Tuesday, August 04, 2009

I think not ...

... The English Montaigne. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Hazlitt is a great writer of English prose - one of the greatest, in fact - but he not to be compared with Montaigne beyond the fact that both wrote what they called essays. Montaigne wrote in order to explore his mind in search of truth. Hazlitt wrote to expound the truth he thought he had arrived at. He has nothing of Montaigne's easy temper and tolerance. He tends to be a wise guy. He never was a wise man.


  1. I have not thought of Hazlitt in the way that you have characterized him, particularly in opposition to or comparison with Montaigne. I shall have to take another look at both to allow myself the opportunity to make comparisons. Thanks for instigating yet another reading challenge for me.

  2. That's an interesting way of thinking about Hazlitt, which I hadn't really considered before. But I find I agree on all points. Montaigne is far more of my role model, even (or especially) on my own blog, when it comes to writing essays.

    I also owe a debt to PL Travers, whose essay style she described as "thinking is linking," which meant it could as discursive as Montaigne's even while it was all circling around some unified theme.