Essay Library

There are currently 100 essays in the Library – please come in and browse.

Use the ‘additional suggestions’ box to tell us if your favourite essay or author is missing, or comment boxes on each essay’s page to discuss the selection, including where you feel we should have selected another essay by the same author. We will expand the Essay Library in future, using suggestions and comments received. Example intro length, with link to more if needed.

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On the Lame (Book III, Essay 11, 1580-95)

by Michel de Montaigne


An essay that combines Montaigne’s review of what it was like to have sex with a lame woman with the profound theme of mankind’s tendency to self-deception. It begins,...

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On the Use of Reason by Irrational Animals (Moralia, vol.12, 46-127 as date unknown)

by Plutarch


Plutarch uses Homer’s Odysseus to dramatize a first-century debate about consciousness and character. Odysseus is trying to get his compatriots turned back from pigs into men by ...

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An Account of My Hut (Hojoki)

by Kamo No Chomei


The pre-eminent example of Japanese ‘recluse literature’ and part of the ‘zuihitsu’ genre (personal essays and prose fragments, usually responding to the writer’s surro...

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On Old Age (De Senectute)

by Cicero


The 84-year-old author, using Marcus Cato as narrator, and playing wittily with the allowances made for elderly garrulity and digression, advises us to trust Nature’s wisdom, ada...

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