Sunday, December 19, 2010

On blogging through the ages

A fascinating NY Times book review article of Sarah Bakewell's book "How to Live" on the life of Michel Eyquem de Montaigne, the first "blogger." Merci JB. The article discusses the provenance of the essay:
Montaigne is considered the creator of the essay, a form that melds the intellectual and the personal, and his musings have inspired countless writers, including William Hazlitt, Friedrich Nietzsche and Virginia Woolf. Ms. Bakewell would add every blogger, tweeter, Facebooker and YouTuber to that list.

“This idea — writing about oneself to create a mirror in which other people recognize their own humanity — has not existed forever,” Ms. Bakewell writes. “It had to be invented. And, unlike many cultural inventions, it can be traced to a single person.”

Montaigne wrote about whatever crossed his mind: animals, sex, magic, diplomacy, violence, hermaphroditism, self-doubt. “Essayer” means “to try” in French, or as Ms. Bakewell adds, “to test, or to taste it, or give it a whirl.”

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