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Montaigne running down the voodoo:


You have here, Reader, a book whose faith can be trusted, a book which warns you from the start that I have set myself no other end but a private family one. I have not been concerned to serve you nor my reputation: my powers are inadequate for such a design. I have dedicated this book to the private benefits of my friends and kinsmen so that, having lost me (as they must do soon), they can find here again some traits of my character and of my humours. They will thus keep their knowledge of me more full, more alive.

If my design had been to seek the favour of the world I would have decked myself out better and presented myself in a studied gait. Here I want to be seen in my simple, natural, everyday fashion, without striving or artifice: for it is my own self that I am painting. Here, drawn from life, you will read of my defects and my native form so far as respect for social convention allows: for had I found myself among those people who are said still to live under the sweet liberty of Nature's primal laws, I can assure you that I would most willingly have portrayed myself whole, and wholly naked.

And therefore, Reader, I myself am the subject of my book: it is not reasonable that you should employ your leisure on a topic so frivolous and so vain.

Therefore, farewell.

This is the intro to Montaigne's Essays. A copped a selected version yesterday, but I am thinking I need to get the whole thing. I can't remember who suggested I read this dude, but I wanted to thank whoever it was. (Please feel free to take credit in comments below.) 

I think this statement is filled with irony, and perhaps even false-modesty. But it really explains a lot about why I write. I've said, repeatedly, that my own aims are selfish, that I don't much look to changing people—white, black, whatever. It's always nice when that happens, but it's not the reason for me to write. It's much more internal, much more selfish than that.

Anyway, I saw this and immediately thought, not just of my work, but of Malcolm's Autobiography. I'll blog as I go through. I'm thinking of going back and buying the complete version.
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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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