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An Apology for Raymond Sebond (Penguin Classics)

4.2 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0140444933
ISBN-10: 0140444939
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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English, French (translation)

About the Author

Michel Eyquem, Seigneur de Montaigne, was born in 1533, the son and heir of Pierre, Seigneur de Montaigne (two previous children dying soon after birth). He was brought up to speak Latin as his mother tongue and always retained a Latin turn of mind; though he knew Greek, he preferred to use translations. After studying law he eventually became counselor to the Parlement of Bordeaux. He married in 1565. In 1569 he published his French version of the Natural Theology of Raymond Sebond; his Apology is only partly a defense of Sebond and sets skeptical limits to human reasoning about God, man and nature. He retired in 1571 to his lands at Montaigne, devoting himself to reading and reflection and to composing his Essays (first version, 1580). He loathed the fanaticism and cruelties of the religious wars of the period, but sided with Catholic orthodoxy and legitimate monarchy. He was twice elected Mayor of Bordeaux (1581 and 1583), a post he held for four years. He died at Montaigne (1592) while preparing the final, and richest, edition of his Essays.
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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (January 5, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140444939
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140444933
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #465,458 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Michel Eyquem de Montaigne (1533-1592) was never famous for staying on topic. The titles of his essays, and this book is his longest essay, are pretexts for writing about what interested him at the time. If you don't know any more about Raymond Sebond after reading this essay than you did before, don't worry about it! If you gave it a slow, thoughtful read, you have experienced one of the greatest minds in all of history asking what was the value of man's mind to arrive at the truth.

The answer could be expressed as the saying for which Montaigne is most famous: "Que scais-je?" or "What do I know?" Reason may be what separates man from the animals, but what benefit has man derived from it? Is he any happier for it? Is he any closer to the ultimate truth?

As one who has loved the _Essaies_ (French for "attempts") for many years, my advice to readers is to take them a little at a time. Don't be put off by all the quotes from Classical Antiquity. This was, after all, the Renaissance; and Montaigne was, like many of his contemporaries, delighted to see reflections of his thoughts in the writings of the Greeks and Romans. (Rabelais in _Gargantua and Pantagruel_ did the same thing.) Many of those quotes are interesting enough to make we want to follow up on Lucretius, Cicero, Marcus Manilius, and others whose names predominate through the essay.

Montaigne had the motto "Que scais-je?" inscribed on the walls of the tower on his property. He was the ultimate skeptic, but (forgive the pun) he essayed to explain his thoughts more thoroughly, perhaps, than any man who ever lived. I heartily suggest you read this, and follow it up with a reading of his greatest essay, "Of Experience."
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Very insightful for a point of view not many think about.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
One of my all time favorite college reads
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Format: Paperback
The Apology which Montaigne wrote for the work of Raymond Sebond arose from his understanding of a book, Theologia Naturalis, written in an obscure form of Spanish, which Montaigne's father ("in the `last days' of his life") requested that Montaigne translate into French for the benefit of those who were engaged in the struggles of the Reformation, "a period of intellectual ferment and of religious and political disarray." (p. ix). Montaigne finished and dedicated his translation on the day of his father's death, 18 June 1568, when Montaigne was 35, married, and engaged in a legal position. The Apology does not identify which of its ideas were original with Sebond. There is no index, so I am unsure of how often the name Sebond appears in the text The Introduction on pages ix to xxxiii explains the circumstances and theology of the book philosophically, as understood at All Souls College, Oxford, on Easter 1986. The dedication and "Montaigne's translation and adaptation of the Prologus of Raymond Sebond" appear on pages xl to xliv. Those who have a complete edition of the ESSAYS OF MICHEL DE MONTAIGNE should be able to find the material in this book at II:12, though this book is clear in which portions appeared in 1580, 1582, 1588, or from the "text of the manuscript edition being prepared by Montaigne when he died, interpreted in the light of the posthumous editions." (p. xxxv).
On the doom or dumber question, we can find, "Philosophy in general agrees that there is an ultimate remedy to be prescribed for every kind of trouble: namely, ending our life if we find it intolerable." (p. 62). This is associated with, "As the Greeks said at their banquets: `Let him drink or be off! (Aut bibat, aut abeat!
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