What inspired Shakespeare? Did he have a muse in the form of the writings of Montaigne? Stephen Greenblatt thinks so and that is the subject of his interview with Charlie Rose where they discuss his book Shakespeare's Montaigne. A book about William Shakespeare and his reading of Montaigne.
Michel de Montaigne was a French nobleman that Shakespeare never met, although they lived during the same times. There is some evidence that he read Montaigne's essays and drew influence for some of the characters in his plays after what he read.
Born in France at Château de Montaigne in the year 1533 Montaigne was sent to live with a peasant family until he was three years old in order for him to understand what that life is like. After returning to his parents his tutor, servants, and anyone else that talked to him were instructed to only speak with him in Latin. In this way Latin became his first language
Château de Montaigne, Montaigne's family home (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
By thirteen years of age he had graduated from Collège de Guyenne and began to study law. Nearing his forties, with a career in law and as a statesman behind him, he retired. That's when he began to write his essays. Setting himself up in a room of a tower in the family's chateau (which is reminiscent of the Biltmore Estate here in the Carolinas) he began to write. He wrote deeply personal and transparent accounts of himself, the people he knew, and the human condition.
Is this what inspired Shakespeare? Listen to the conversation below and see what you think.