A generation ago, Montaigne’s two essays on the New World, “Of Cannibals” and “Of Coaches,” did not elicit much critical interest on the part of scholars of French literature. Today, however, “Of Cannibals” is one of the essays most talked about because it fits into recent attempts to understand colonial domination historically as a reciprocal exercise of power between oppressor and oppressed. Critics as diverse as Michel de Certeau, George Hoffmann, Myra Jehlin, Claude Rawson, and Tzvetan Todorov have shown that the pursuit of empire is an encounter not so much with the barbarism of natives, but with the barbarism of colonizers who use the resources of language and symbolic systems to trick the very peoples who greeted them bearing presents.1