Michel Eyquem de Montaigne (28 February 1533 – 13 September 1592) was one of the most influential writers of the French Renaissance. He spent most of his life in his castle, solitary, dedicated to his studied and thoughts. He is known for popularizing the essay as a literary genre – merging serious intellectual exercises with casual anecdotes or autobiography. His massive volume Essais = (“Attempts”) contains, to this day, some of the most widely influential essays ever written. Montaigne had a direct influence on writers all over the world, including René Descartes, Blaise Pascal, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Friedrich Nietzsche, Isaac Asimov, and possibly on the later works of William Shakespeare.