Medieval writers knew nothing of the negative modern view that memory is ‘merely’ reiteration of something previously given, and so by definition inferior to creative imagination: they regarded it as the mark of a superior moral character as well as a proof of intellect. 1 The Renaissance, by contrast, selectively disapproved of cognitive memory on the grounds that it failed to encourage independence of thought; yet writers of the period still respected the past enough to allow its lessons to inform the surge of creativity. Montaigne exemplifies this dual attitude. His contempt for the art of memory may be the distaste which the free spirit feels for the rule-bound rhetorician, but he reserves the right to dip eclectically into the ‘paper memory’ of literary tradition whenever he needs its support.