“Montaigne proved himself a literary revolutionary from the start, writing like no one else. . .”

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I’ve always been interested in how writers choose to structure their stories. I was particularly curious about the narrative architecture of this book because it’s a biography about someone who is famous for the revolutionary way he constructed his autobiography. If this author had chosen to describe events chronologically, it would have looked as if she had learned nothing from him about how to explore ideas, weave in anecdotes, and pepper it with passages from a surprising range of sources. The good news: this book has a brilliant construction. It asks the question “How to live?” and provides twenty answers.

Sarah Bakewell, How to Live — or — A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer (New York: Other Press LLC, 2010), p.224.

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