Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Montaigne's Tower

Writers' homes are generally worth a detour. Not far from the splendid French town of St Emilion is the home of Montaigne. The family mansion burnt down a hundred or so years ago, but his tower remains. This is where he removed himself in his fifties and began his sequence of essays, pacing round and around the upper library, for walking helped his thoughts flow.
I led my partner James there - Montaigne's writings influences his own early life, and the model of a guy in his fifties who retreated to his tower to write a book which helps society reconfigure itself is tailor-made of James. It's worth heading to the rooms of such creative beings to imbibe some of that alternative current their thoughts charged into the walls.

It was wonderfully empty. We had the whole tower to ourselves for much of a Sunday morning. And graciously a torrent of rain subsided just as we chose to step from the tower, allowing us to walk the orangery and admire the landscape of the surrounding hills.
Everyone who came into contact with the young Montaigne was directed to speak Latin with him (they must have employed very educated gardeners and servants). Montaigne grew up with Latin as his mother tongue, and marvellously managed to ignore it all so as to write his works in French. Still, he had his favourite Latin phrases inscribed in the wooden beams of the library ceiling. It was pleasing, to come to know a man for whom words meant so very much.

The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself - Michel de Montaigne


Anonymous Anonymous said...

io amo montaigne e penso che questo post รจ fantastico! grazie, amici di Montaigne!

1:27 PM  

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