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The 'gentlemanly' ideal as it appears in the Essais of Michel de Montaigne.

Head, Jennifer (1994) The 'gentlemanly' ideal as it appears in the Essais of Michel de Montaigne. Masters thesis, Durham University.



This thesis looks at an ideal of social intercourse, which obtained in France in the second half of the sixteenth century and which can be traced in Montaigne's Essais. We begin by. defining a number of terms employed in the thesis concerning contemporary social groups and moral concepts. There follows an investigation of the composition of the society in which Montaigne and his immediate forbears lived. We note the relative flexibility of the boundaries between noble and non-noble at the beginning of the century and the various means by which the latter sought to accede to positions of greater social prestige and financial privilege. The importance of education as an element of social training is discussed with reference to the case of Montaigne and the influence of the Humanists on his experiences is traced through his father's handling of the matter. The insistence upon the moral benefits of a liberal education which emerges from this study, leads us to investigate the ideal of manners formulated in Baldassare Castiglione's Book of the Courtier, as this work is one of the most well-known conduct manuals of the period. We then analyse the points of comparison between Castiglione and Montaigne, first taking the essay 'De la Praesumption' as a specific instance of Montaigne's awareness of the same code of manners as Castiglione. The final part of the thesis attempts to trace Montaigne's application of this code to practical situations and looks at areas of his behaviour such as dress, gesture and language for evidence of these rules of conduct. We note how the rules are interpreted by Montaigne, both in his public role as soldier, mayor of Bordeaux and lord of the family estate and in the private domain of his literary creation.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Thesis Date:1994
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:16 Nov 2012 10:50

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