In 1572 Montaigne retired to his estates in order to devote himself to leisure, reading and thinking. There he wrote his constantly expanding 'assays', inspired by ideas he found in the books of his library and his own experience. He discussed subjects as diverse as war-horses and cannibals, poetry and politics, sex and religion, love and friendship, ecstasy and experience. But, above all, Montaigne studied himself as a way of drawing out his own inner nature and that of men and women generally. The Essays are among the most idiosyncratic and personal works in all literature, and provide an engaging insight into a wise Renaissance mind, which continue to give pleasure and enlightenment to modern readers. With its extensive introduction and notes, M. A. Screech's edition of Montaigne is widely regarded as the most distinguished of recent times.