The University Library has a remarkable collection of books connected with Michel de Montaigne’s life (1533-1592) and times, including ten volumes from Montaigne’s own library. This collection was assembled by the Montaigne scholar and financier Gilbert de Botton (1935–2000) and came to Cambridge University Library in 2008. An exhibition of books from the Montaigne Library of Gilbert de Botton was held in that same year, and a description of the collection is available through the Rare Books department webpage. A catalogue is available as an appendix to the monograph on the Montaigne Library by Philip Ford (B151.MON.3 and Cam.b.2008.30).
The UL continues to buy modern scholarly works on Montaigne, and to build upon the remarkable collection formed by de Botton. A work published in 2002 helps to expand the UL’s holdings in this area:
“Somme, c’est César–” : première reproduction, en fac-simile, de l’exemplaire des Commentaires de César, annoté par Montaigne / Michel de Montaigne ; publié par André Gallet ; avec une introduction par André Gallet ; une notice bibliographique de Francis Pottiée-Sperry ; et une note historique par Emmanuelle Toulet (F200.c.4.2)
This comprises a brief (40 page) introduction, followed by a facsimile reproduction of Montaigne’s copy of the 1570 edition of C. Iulii Caesaris Commentarii, novis emendationibus illustrate. For the purposes of the Library, this is primarily of interest for scholars of Montaigne—in the UL we already have six 16th century editions of Caesar’s commentaries. However, its acquisition helps the UL to fulfil de Botton’s desire to recreate Montaigne’s library—either by buying Montaigne’s personal copies, where available, or other works known to have belonged to or been read by him.