The aim of this paper is to explore the Montaigne's use of enargeia in three essays: “Des Cannibales,” “Des Coches” and “De l'exercitation.” During the French Renaissance, enargeia remained a central means by which writers transferred living experience into language. The elaborate visual possibilities offered by enargeia, encapsulated in the writings of Quintilian, were popularised in France through the diffusion of Erasmus's rhetorical handbook De diuplici copia verborum ac rerum. However, the sense of graphic presence and truth conveyed by Erasmus's handbook came to be challenged through the increasing awareness of the disparity between living experience and verbal language. In his Essais, Montaigne's awareness of the deceptive properties of visual representation allows him to explore, often playfully, the pleasures and instabilities of linguistic expression, and to gain a heightened insight into the perceptual inadequacy which characterize much human behaviour. In this way, Montaigne poignantly demonstrates the instructive nature of rhetorical theories on which he draws to illustrate his understanding of human experience.
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