Peter Burke's conference will focus on the invention by Montaigne of a new literary genre, the essay, and in the reasons why the writer considered this invention was needed. Nevertheless, Montaigne did not construct this genre ex nihilo. In the first part of the conference, "The essay before Essais", he will describe some close genres, with which Montaigne was familiarized, and from where the idea of his book bloomed. In the second part of the session "The essay after Essais" he will address how was Montaigne received, and particularly, the essay concept (including the term "essay" in several languages). In the same way, we will pay special attention to the tradition of the essay genre in England and in Spain.