The article provides a short overview of the 400-year-long reception of the seminal work by the French renaissance writer. It discusses the question of Montaigne's fathering the genre of essay and the possibility of acknowledging his oeuvre as the most typical, prototype-like example of the kind emerging in the Early Modern literature. The main interest is focused on the possible reading tactics used to interpret Essais, suggested or enacted by its followers, editors, critics, researchers and by Michel de Montaigne himself. Two mainstream practices are emphasized: the more traditional, unifying and classifying, leading to an image of the Essais as a coherent, humanist manifesto; and the new one, undertaken by postmodern critics who stress the inexhaustivity, illimitability, undecidability of the essayistic text turning into a perilous territory of the combat between the deceptive self controlling the essay and the one who attempts to read it.
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