Medieval writers knew nothing of the negative modern view that memory is 'merely' reiteration of something previously given, and so by definition inferior to creative imagination: they regarded it as the mark of a superior moral character as a proof of intellect. Memory is a recurrent theme of the Essais, implicitly as well as explicitly. Although Montaigne's writing is a compendium of general wisdom, it is also the portrait of an individual who trumpets his particularity at the same time as declaring that he epitomizes the human condition. Though the Essais record the development of his thoughts and person over time, Montaigne sometimes obscures the fact by insisting that he is concerned not with duration, but with the present moment. Montaigne on memory is paradoxical: he sometimes gainsays the importance of lived experience in contributing to man's sense of individuality, but he evaluates experience positively in one of his most famous essays.