Montaigne’s Dance, 1580s
This chapter explores Montaigne’s theory of gesture in the Essais. Montaigne elaborated an ethos of gesture that grounds the move toward a burlesque style. Montaigne’s project to reconstitute the self in writing can be interpreted as a gestural portrait whose basis is improvisatory. It examines the nature of that improvisation through an analysis of the terms nature, ceremony, and custom in the Essais. Montaigne is also the proponent of a new form of dissonant expressivity in gesture. His frequent references to dance constitute a network of reflections inaugurating key issues of the dance in Modernity. This chapter also demonstrates that the concept of construction, rather than reconstruction, is germane to renaissance moral philosophy.
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