Montaigne in The Return of Martin Guerra by Natalie Zemon Davis

1839 Words8 Pages
In “The Return of Martin Guerre,” Natalie Zemon Davis portrays Jean de Coras as a knowledgeable, impartial judge, fully capable of recognizing female intelligence and of looking beyond the status quo in his pursuit of truth. Like any judge, Coras has the discretion to select or omit certain pieces of evidence, the power to shape the official and accepted version of the truth; however, Michel de Montaigne would argue that Coras has a high probability of reaching a distorted verdict. Montaigne’s “Essays” claims that knowledge is acquired through the process of self-questioning, but this self-questioning presumes that knowledge begins with ones own perspectives and not with disciplines (such as a medicine and law), which are bound to…show more content…
King Pyrrhus states, “I know not…what kind of barbarians…these may be; but the disposition of this army, that I see, has nothing of barbarism in it” (Cannibals, 1).
Thus, after witnessing the advanced military formation of the Roman Army, King Pyrrhus changed his judgment and could no longer view the Romans as barbarians. Knowledge then, is required to make a reasonable judgment and knowledge should be acquired firsthand.
In the next paragraph, Montaigne reveals his source of information stems from his servent who witnessed it firsthand: “I long had a man in my house that lived ten or twelve years in the New World” (Cannibals, 1). Knowledge, then, can be acquired from a reliable source. However, Montagine purports that not all knowledge is desirable. This is illustrated when Montagine states, “I am afraid our eyes are bigger than our bellies, and that we have more curiosity than capacity; for we grasp at all, but catch nothing but wind” (Cannibals, 1). Here, Montagine is cautious on the discovery of the New World because the exploration of an unknown region can manifest to something more than one can grasp or it could end up being like the wind—no great discovery at all. It is important to note that Montaigne makes reasonable judgments from the information provided by his servant, who had lived in the New World.
Contrary from educated men, Montaigne’s servant is a simple man who is not compelled to interpret on what he

    More about Montaigne in The Return of Martin Guerra by Natalie Zemon Davis

      Get Access