Collections > Electronic Theses and Dissertations > "Je suis moy-mesmes la matiere de mon livre": Sexual Ambiguities and Friendship in Montaigne's Essais

While ambiguity's ultimate role is to create "infinis Essais" in the minds of Montaigne's readers, gender, sexuality and friendship play decisive roles in the significance of this ambiguity. Montaigne's oscillation between misogyny and feminism is manifested in the female voice and female persona that the essayist establishes for himself. His exploration of friendship with men and women offers the reader a plethora of contradictions, problematizations, destabilization and uncertainty; "De l'amitié" is at the same time an hommage to and mourning for Etienne de La Boétie. Montaigne makes his readers consider love between men in ways they most certainly had not before. He recreates the ancients' debate about love between men, thus continuing their contemplation of homosexuality to an infinity that is atemporal. Montaigne's friendship with Marie de Gournay enables her to multiply the meaning of his Essais with a feminist objective, thereby problematizing the misogynistic passages in Montaigne's Essais.