This chapter accounts for Montaigne's repeated claim that he has made everything in the Essais his own. The category of appropriation is central to sixteenth-century reflection on writing; it can be seen as the underlying theme linking topics such as imitation, translation, and interpretation. ‘De l'institution des enfans’ makes explicit the metaphorical ratio: the father is to the son as the author is to the text. Montaigne declares that he sees as well as anyone that his text-child is far from perfect, and that its imperfection accurately reflects his own. Montaigne extends the parallel between writing and education in a somewhat different direction by suggesting that the writer plays both the role of student with respect to antecedent master-texts and that of teacher with respect to readers, just as the paternal metaphor that commands his chapter.
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