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Durham e-Theses
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Time in the Works of Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) and Giordano Bruno (1548-1600)

ASHCROFT, RACHEL,ELIZABETH (2018) Time in the Works of Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) and Giordano Bruno (1548-1600). Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This thesis explores the philosophical concept of time through a detailed comparison of Michel de Montaigne’s Essais with Giordano Bruno’s six-text series of Italian dialogues. Modern scholarship in the field of time studies has either ignored the true significance of the 16th century, or relied on familiar tropes - including Christian eschatology and apocalyptical end-times - to define time from this period. Instead, this thesis demonstrates that Montaigne and Bruno are excellent examples of two thinkers whose innovative thought led them to consider time in radically different ways to standard 16th-century conceptions of temporality. I use a new conceptual methodology of ‘embodied time’ in order to explore the dichotomy that arises between mental perceptions of time and the physical effects of time. Initially, both Montaigne and Bruno employ images of corruptible bodies in time to emphasise the linear, uncontrollable nature of human time. Yet both thinkers use the temporal freedom of the mind to experiment with seemingly rigid characteristics of time such as death, ageing and change. Montaigne revisits his own near-death experience and rethinks attitudes towards suicide in order to exercise a degree of control over time while Bruno’s radical cosmology dramatically subverts traditional responses to human mortality. Such discussions reveal a willingness to challenge the seemingly rigid nature of time which is simply not reflected in general scholarship on 16th-century time. Furthermore, eternity emphasises the temporal impermanence that characterises human time. This notion of temporal flux leads both Montaigne and Bruno to explore how individuals should utilise the time at hand, which in both cases leads to a call for deep and studied introspection. Finally, their exploration of custom and time reveals a fascinating relationship between the two concepts that holds serious repercussions for the productive use of time they both exhort.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Time, Michel de Montaigne, Giordano Bruno
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Modern Languages and Cultures, School of
Thesis Date:2018
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:17 Jan 2019 13:39

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