Professor Richard Scholar Publishes Revised Edition of 'Montaigne and the Art of Free-Thinking'

  • Montaigne and the Art of Free-Thinking
23 February, 2017

Oriel Fellow and Professor of French and Comparative Literature Richard Scholar has recently published a revised paperback edition of his book Montaigne and the Art of Free-Thinking with Peter Lang Oxford.

The book explores from a fresh perspective 16th-century French writer and philosopher Michel de Montaigne's famous Essais. Scholar argues that Montaigne inherits and improvises upon the language of free-thinking to create a mode of thinking and writing – the essay – whose adventure is for its reader to continue. Education, religion, scepticism, politics, friendship, sex, and style – Montaigne’s major themes are revealed here in the making of a text that practises freedom of thought by putting it to the test.

Professor Scholar's book was originally published in hardback in 2010 to appreciative reviews:

‘[An] excellent study of the essayist’s freedom of thought.’ – John O’Brien, Times Literary Supplement

‘Despite his surname, Richard Scholar wears his considerable learning lightly in this elegant introduction to Montaigne’s Essais, an introduction of interest to seasoned as well as green readers of the text…. Just as Montaigne extols freedom of judgment by means of examples both ancient and modern, so too Scholar moves back and forth through time with a Montaignian ease.’ – Zachary S. Schiffman, H-France Review

‘A learned, well-written, and useful companion to the Essais.’ – Times Higher Education Supplement

Professor Scholar has revised and updated the text of 2010 for the new paperback edition. As he explains, the new edition did not require the major repositioning that some academic books receive when their publishers take the initiative of issuing them in paperback: ‘This book was in fact commissioned for simultaneous publication in hardback and paperback. No sooner was it finished, however, than it ran up against a major event in financial history – the credit crunch of 2008 – which caused the publishers of Montaigne and the Art of Free-Thinking to scale down their ambitions and bring the book out in hardback alone. I could not help feeling that the book had not had the chance to run its full course. So I was pleased as well as surprised to learn that the publishers are now able and willing, seven years on, to provide the book with the chance to reach a new readership.’

Professor Scholar has been a Fellow and Tutor in French at Oriel since 2005 and teaches French literature and thought.