Montaigne's monster-book: Deformity and monstrosity in the "Essais"
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The deployment of the monster and the monstrous in Michel de Montaigne's Essais is an irregular progression of the 16 th century European discourse on the monster that merits a closer study by dent of its singular nature. In accordance with this goal, this project seeks to trace and examine the usage of the terms monster and monstrous throughout the Essais. These terms are presented as the key to interpretation of Montaigne's work. Montaigne uses both monster and monstrous to describe himself and his book, playing upon a contemporary double sense of monster that both designates a deformed body and a sign of potentially grave consequence, in order to establish a new conception of the monster that lies not without but within. He extends his book as at once a deformed, abject body but also as a sign, a sign of his own nature and that of all humanity. This project uncovers the significance of the monstrous within Montaigne's text as a means of interpretation of the text itself, as well as its greater significance to the 16 th century discourse on the monster as a whole.