Montaigne on the limitations of the interpreter

Jamie Effros, English 171, Sages and Satirists, Brown University, 2002

At the end of "Of Cannibals," Montaigne makes a final stab at the role of the interpreter, deeming him an interpreter of events, and as such in a position of profound power.

I had a very long talk with one of them: but I had an interpreter who followed my meaning so badly, and who was so hindered by his stupidity in taking in my ideas, that I could get hardly any satisfaction from the man. When I asked him what profit he gained fro his superior position among his people (for he was a captain, and our sailors called him king), he told me that it was to march foremost in war.

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Last modified 6 February 2002