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Editions of the text

Montaigne, Essais, book 1, ch 30/31: Des Cannibales. Advised edition: Montaigne, Essais, ed. by Marie-Madeleine Fragonard (Pocket Classiques), a good-value edition with helpful notes. I will be referring to this edition in the lecture, and your seminar tutors will refer to it in seminars.


different editing practices across the editions

Representing the different editions of the Essays

Montaigne published his first book of Essays in 1580 and subsequently added to and re-published his essays. These different layers of the essays (called couches in French) are presented in various ways depending on the edition you consult:

  • The text in the recommended anthology edited by M.-M. Fragonard distinguishes between editions by calling the original 1580 edition A, additions from the 1588 edition B, further additions from the manuscript annotations made by Montaigne in a personal copy of the 1588 edition (the Exemplaire de Bordeaux) C.
  • The on-line Villey-Saulnier Exemplaire de Bordeaux edition presents these additions in two different colours, indicating changes made from 1580 - 1588, and others made up to the time of Montaigne's death in 1592. See the top of the page for the colour code.
  • The Screech translation equally distinguishes between A, B, and C, but lists further additions (by Marie de Gournay) from the 1595 posthumous publication as '95.

The main points to note here is that it can be interesting to see that Montaigne's opinions change and develop over time. You will be expected to have an awareness, but not an in-depth knowledge, of the layered character of the text.

Dealing with Latin Quotations

Montaigne includes quotations from Ancient writers in his essays.

  • M.-M. Fragonard's edition gives a French translation in the footnotes.
  • The Villey-Saulnier Exemplaire de Bordeaux edition does not translate the Latin quotations included in the essay.
  • The Screech translation shows the Latin original and provides an English translation in brackets.

It is important that you consult an edition that allows you to understand the Latin quotations.


Cotgrave's French- English dictionary (this is an early 17th-century bilingual dictionary with a very useable search facility)


Further reading


Useful links


Lecture 1 powerpoint slides(Powerpoint Presentation)

Lecture 1 recording:

Lecture 1 handout

  • page 1(Image file)
  • page 2 (Image file)

Lecture 2 powerpoint slides

Lecture 2 Handout(Word Document)