FYI France

File 3: Ejournal and archive

by Jack Kessler,

September 15, 2016 issue. This file presents an archive copy of the issue of the FYI France ejournal, ISSN 1071-5916, which was distributed via email on September 15, 2016.

From this point you can link / jump up to the main page for,

3.00 FYI France: Ejournal and archive

or to,

The FYI France Home Page

Versions of the following have appeared online regularly, since 1992, as a feature of the FYI France ejournal, ISSN 1071-5916, which is distributed for free via email every month except August. Ejournal subscriptions may be obtained via email request to:

Here this file is one of a number made available -- hopefully attractively, all in one place, and relevant to libraries and online digital information work in France and Europe. Please email suggestions for improvements to me at




How Montaigne wrote the Essais: the Exemplaire de Bordeaux


F or those who have studied France, there as elsewhere, Montaigne represents some of the finest writing, and general thought, ever produced by that fine and thoughtful culture. A chance, then, to view Montaigne's thinking in-action: he wrote in his books! -- Montaigne's marginalia, scribbled in his own hand in the margins of an edition of his famous Essais! -- a treasure of the Bibliothèque de Bordeaux, on-display there for the first time in a quarter-century, for 3 months this Fall -- as presented & explained & translated in the following --




"Comment Montaigne écrivait ses Essais : l'Exemplaire de Bordeaux"

"How Montaigne wrote the Essais: the Exemplaire de Bordeaux"

posting by Nicolas Barbey July 6, 2016 in Collections, Partenaires
[on Gallica blog, excerpts tr. here by JK]>


"Our manuscripts from the hand of Montaigne are not many. This is why the existence of an edition of the Essais abundantly annotated by their author takes on such exceptional importance. Simultaneously printed and handwritten, known as the Exemplaire de Bordeaux (EB), this document is the only handwritten record remaining to us of the development of this work of Montaigne.

"Preserved at the Bibliothèque de Bordeaux since the end of the 18th century, digitized in Spring 2016 in a partnership between the Bibliothèque nationale de France and the Ville de Bordeaux, it now is available online via the digital libraries of two institutions, Gallica,

and Séléné,



[And now: The EB on-display -- Sep 20 through Dec 17, Bordeaux

"...the EB has not been shown to the general public since 1991. It will be shown for three months, from September 20 until December 17, on the occasion of the exhibition Montaigne Superstar organized by the Bibliothèque de Bordeaux. Do not miss this unique event!..."]


The "Essais" of Montaigne, an exceptional example, on Gallica.

The birth of the Exemplaire de Bordeaux

"Between 1588 and 1592, the year of his death, Montaigne worked on a new edition of his Essais. For this purpose he used a version not taken from the latest edition in print, that of 1588, and he began to enter in it his corrections and additions.

"At first he prepared his document for the printer, but, bit by bit, as the notes accumulated, the project became a working-copy in constant evolution.

"Montaigne compares his undertaking to a child who grows, employing a passage from Virgil, 'vires acquirit eundo' -- 'gathering strength as it goes' -- and writing himself on the title-page of his manuscript.

"The most common changes Montaigne made to his book were elongations, additional developments of certain parts of his text.

"In this manner he increased the length of his text by a third, adding a great number of new citations. The most famous addition is that found on the verso of leaf 71. It concerned La Boétie. Montaigne completed the printed phrase as-follows: "If one pushes me to say why I loved him, I sense that this can only be explained, 'because it was him, because I was me'".



The tribulations of the EB

"What happened to the EB? At his death, Montaigne was interred at the church of the Couvent des Feuillants de Bordeaux. The EB was offered by the widow of the writer to that religious congregation, as witnessed by the handwritten ex-libris of that community on the title page. It stayed there to the end of the 18th century. The library of the Feuillants being confiscated by the Révolution, the EB was taken into the collections of the library of the City.

"From time to time various Bordeaux scholars rediscovered it, the Académiciens Jean Barbot and François de Lamontaigne in particular. But it was above all François de Neufchâteau who, during a stay in Bordeaux, became greatly interested and wanted to compare it with the edition of Marie de Gournay. Because of the differences he found, the necessity of re-examining the Montaigne of the Essais to him seemed evident.

"He had the precious manuscript brought to Paris, and in 1802 Jacques-André Naigeon published a new edition of the Essais, the first to draw from the EB. The book itself might have remained in Paris, but Jean-Baptiste Monbalon, librarian of the Ville de Bordeaux from 1796 to 1830, arranged for its return in 1807. It has been held ever since at the heart of the collections of the Bibliothèque Municipale of which it is one of the most prestigious treasures.

The bookbinder and his knife

"One other experience of the EB is its having endured a terrible degradation. In the 18th c. the Feuillants, thinking they were doing-good, decided to have the book re-bound... Sadly-uninspired, the bookbinder cropped the pages more than was needed, losing much of Montaigne's marginalia...



The EB and the phantom-manuscript

"Since 1802 and the Naigeon edition, the use of the EB in editing the Essais always has been controversial. Some consider it to be the sole authentic text. Others oppose this, the greatest loyalty being to the edition of 1595 established by Marie de Gournay.

"The legitimacy of the 1595 edition seems established today, notably because the differences between the two texts appears to suggest that there is another manuscript by Montaigne, today lost -- Montaigne probably gathered his corrections and assembled them in another copy for a printer -- it is that manuscript which Marie de Gournay would have used for the 1595 edition. So the EB would have been an intermediate-state, not publishable as it is.



For more information, consult the Facebook page featuring Montaigne himself --

-- and view, on the YouTube channel of the BnF, the video presenting, "La Numérisation de l'Exemplaire de Bordeaux".

Nicolas Barbey -- Département du Patrimoine, Direction des bibliothèques, de la lecture publique et des médias culturels de la Ville de Bordeaux.

Notice du document:

Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592), Les Essais, Exemplaire de Bordeaux (EB), 1588 Essais de Michel seigneur de Montaigne. Cinquiesme edition, augmentée d'un troisiesme livre et de six cens additions aux deux premiers. A Paris, Chez Abel L'Angelier, au premier pillier de la grand Salle du Palais. Avec privilege du Roy. 1588 [4]-496 [i.e. 504]-[1] p. : ill. gr.s.c. (titre front.) ; in-4 Bibliothèque municipale de Bordeaux, S 1238 Rés. C




Happy rentrée!

And please vote wisely, people: this year if you are américain, next year if you are french...







FYI France (sm)(tm) e-journal ISSN 1071-5916
      |         FYI France (sm)(tm) is a monthly electronic
      |         journal published since 1992 as a small-scale,
      |         personal experiment, in the creation of large-
      |         scale "information overload", by Jack Kessler.
     / \        Any material written by me which appears in
    -----       FYI France may be copied and used by anyone for
   //   \\      any good purpose, so long as, a) they give me
  ---------     credit and show my email address, and, b) it
 //       \\    isn't going to make them money: if it is going
                to make them money, they must get my permission
in advance, and share some of the money which they get with me. 
Use of material written by others requires their permission. 
FYI France archives are in various places on the Internet, i.e. 
at (PACS-L), 
or Suggestions, reactions, criticisms, 
praise, and poison-pen letters all gratefully received at .
        	Copyright 1992- , by Jack Kessler,
	all rights reserved except as indicated above. 




From this point you can link / jump up to,

The FYI France Home Page ,

or you can link / jump over to:

1.00 FYI France: Print Libraries in France
2.00 FYI France: Digital Libraries in France
3.00 FYI France: E-Journal and Archive
4.00 FYI France: Publishers in France
5.00 FYI France: Book-Dealers in France
6.00 FYI France: Calendar
7.00 FYI France: Discussion and Debate
8.00 FYI France: La Francophonie
9.00 FYI France: Internet Training & Consulting
10.00 FYI France: Essai
11.00 FYI France: Translation Services
12.00 FYI France: Bibliographies / Resource Lists

or you can,
Return to the top of this page .

M. Eiffel

Copyright © 1992- by Jack Kessler, all rights reserved.
W3 site maintained at
Document maintained by: Jack Kessler,
Last update: September 19, 2016