Michel de Montaigne
Lord Michel Eyquem de Montaigne (miʃɛl ekɛm də mɔ̃tɛɲ), February 28, 1533 – September 13, 1592, was one of the most influential writers of the French Renaissance
French Renaissance
French Renaissance is a recent term used to describe a cultural and artistic movement in France from the late 15th century to the early 17th century. It is associated with the pan-European Renaissance that many cultural historians believe originated in northern Italy in the fourteenth century...

, known for popularising the essay
An essay is a piece of writing which is often written from an author's personal point of view. Essays can consist of a number of elements, including: literary criticism, political manifestos, learned arguments, observations of daily life, recollections, and reflections of the author. The definition...

 as a literary genre and is popularly thought of as the father of Modern Skepticism. He became famous for his effortless ability to merge serious intellectual speculation with casual anecdotes and autobiography—and his massive volume Essais (translated literally as "Attempts") contains, to this day, some of the most widely influential essays ever written.

Que sais-je?

Translation: "What know I?" or "What do I know?"

Je veux qu'on me voit en ma façon simple, naturelle, et ordinaire, sans étude et artifice; car c'est moi que je peins...Je suis moi-même la matière de mon livre.

Translation: I want to be seen here in my simple, natural, ordinary fashion, without straining or artifice; for it is myself that I portray...I am myself the matter of my book.

Certes, c'est un subject merveilleusement vain, divers, et ondoyant, que l'homme. Il est malaisé d'y fonder jugement constant et uniforme.

Translation: Truly man is a marvellously vain, diverse, and undulating object. It is hard to found any constant and uniform judgement on him.

As for extraordinary things, all the provision in the world would not suffice.

Book I, ch. 14

In my opinion, every rich man is a miser.

Book I, ch. 14

Things are not bad in themselves, but our cowardice makes them so.

Book I, ch. 14

C'est de quoi j'ai le plus de peur que la peur.

Translation: The thing I fear most is fear.

Je veux que la mort me trouve plantant mes choux.

Translation: I want death to find me planting my cabbages.

All the opinions in the world point out that pleasure is our aim.

Book I, ch. 20

He who would teach men to die would teach them to live.

Book I, ch. 20