Sarah Bakewell‘s National Book Critics Circle Award-winning biography, How to Live, or, A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer, begins:

The twenty-first century is full of people who are full of themselves. A half-hour’s trawl through the online ocean of blogs, tweets, tubes, spaces, faces, pages, and pods brings up thousands of individuals fascinated by their own personalities and shouting for attention. They go on about themselves; they diarize, and chat, and upload photographs of everything they do. Uninhibitedly extrovert, they also look inward as never before. Even as bloggers and networkers delve into their private experience, they communicate with their fellow humans in a shared festival of the self.

For sure. Still, I think that 16th-century writer Michel de Montaigne, the original personal essayist, might have been quite the tweeter.

@mdemontaigne: I never sleep in the daytime and only enjoy sex lying down
@mdemontaigne: I am fond of eating fish
@mdemontaigne: my ears often get itchy inside
@mdemontaigne: When I play with my cat, who knows whether she is not making me her pastime more than I make her mine?

Bakewell talks about her book on Tuesday, October 18, at the Book Stall at Chestnut Court in Winnetka.