Thursday, April 15, 2010

Essay: "On Some Verses of Virgil." Michel de Montaigne (2)

Review: The essay is 54 pages long and interspersed with lines from Virgil’s poetry. The whole thing is one continuous digression. He begins with old age, switches to marriage and then the essay becomes a sex manual on just about every aspect of the subject that the reader can imagine, with a three-page digression on writing.

Quotes: [The most prurient discussions from this essay will not be reproduced here. For that, you’ll have to read the essay.]

“What has the sexual act, so natural, so necessary, and so just, done to mankind, for us not to dare talk about it without shame and for us to exclude it from serious and decent conversation?”

“…as in the matter of books, which become all the more marketable and public by being suppressed.”

“A good marriage, if such there be, rejects the company and conditions of love. It tries to reproduce those of friendship.”

“I have seen in my time, in high places, love shamefully and dishonestly cured by marriage.”

“Women are not wrong at all when they reject the rules of life that have been introduced into the world, inasmuch as it is the men who have made these without them.”

“For that law that commands them [women] to abominate us because we adore them and to hate us because we love them is indeed cruel….”

“…a lady who had not been tempted could not boast of her chastity.”

“That man knew what it was all about, it seems to me, who said that a good marriage was one made between a blind wife and a deaf husband.”

To be continued.

The Art of the Personal Essay. Ed. Phillip Lopate. New York: Anchor Books. A Division of Random House, Inc. 1995.

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