......Saul Frampton, in one of the best books I have read on Montaigne, takes as his starting point the moment, late on, when Montaigne erases from his ceiling an inscription from Lucretius – “There is no new pleasure to be gained by living longer” – and replaces it with this more affirmative one from Ecclesiastes: “You who do not know how the mind is joined to the body know nothing of the works of God.”
Montaigne’s project has shifted from the philosophy of death to the philosophy of life; from being not afraid to die to being not afraid to live. “Living happily,” Montaigne now believes, “not dying happily, that is the source of human contentment.”
De La Boétie had croaked on his death bed, as his jaw was forced open to insert medicine. “Is life worth so much?” Montaigne’s answer has taken a while in coming, but his response is unequivocal. “Yes!” – or as Frampton evocatively puts it: “Montaigne combs the shoreline where death claws at life and builds a shelter from what he finds there.”......