Thanks to my friend, Kjell (to whom go grateful thanks), I have been reading Sarah Bakewell’s excellent How to Live: A Life of Montaigne in one question and twenty attempts at an answer. Inventor of the ‘essay’ as we would understand it, Montaigne was an agreeable man who meandered through life with curiosity and constantly reflected about himself and his experiences and the world about him. He wrote these reflections out in a series of around one hundred essays, on such diverse themes as friendship and cannabilism and names and smells and cruelty and experience. As Bakewell informs readers towards the end of her biography, successive generations have found inspiration in Montaigne for different reasons and in different ways but somehow the spirit of his essays and his everyman philosophy of life have remained pertinent. Virginia Woolf described this phenomenon as a ‘chain of minds’: “All share a quality that can be thought of as ‘humanity’: the experience of being a thinking, feeling being who must get on with an ordinary human life… even the most ordinary existence tells us all we need to know: ‘I set forth a humble and inglorious life; that does not matter. You can tie up all moral philosophy with a common and private life just as well as with a life of richer stuff.’ Indeed, that is just what a common and private life is: a life of the richest stuff imaginable.” (pp. 317-318) It’s a fine book about a man described by one journalist as ‘Europe’s first blogger’.