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The Essays of Montaigne - Volume 01 by [Montaigne, Michel de]
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The Essays of Montaigne - Volume 01 Kindle Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • File Size: 184 KB
  • Print Length: 68 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publication Date: May 12, 2012
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0082RBJ26
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,709 Free in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Free in Kindle Store)
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By Anthony J. Gillespie on November 6, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This first volume provides a nice introduction that consists mostly of biographical information. The rest of this slim edition is made up of his collected letters. These may be of interest to serious scholars, but most can be skipped. The one I like best is the last, his letter to his reader. With no chapter/section breaks available on the free Kindle version, it can be a bit time consuming to find the section you want.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Michel de Montaigne, The Complete Essays

Unlike Francis Bacon's (1561-1626), Montaigne's essays, written while Bacon was still a boy, are reflexive, personal and eccentric. Both founding fathers of this diffuse genre habitually announce a topic, and then write on it, but where Bacon is terse Montaigne is rambling. Bacon is general, where his predecessor is personal, typified by a comparison of the two men's essays on Solitude and Friendship.

Both men share the need to cite authorities, naturally Greek or Latin, and both enjoy pronouncing moral maxims. `Whosoever is delighted in solitude, is either a wilde beast, or a God,' declares Bacon. Man needs a friend to open his heart to, says Bacon, referring to Caesar and Brutus and others such as Tiberius Caesar who built a temple to friendship.

Montaigne, in Chapter 38 of the Essays, drifts from his alleged topic of Solitude to speak at length of officials who serve themselves rather than the public. He then regales the reader with an account of Albuqurque, Viceroy of the Indies, who rescued a boy in a shipwreck only to save his own skin, using the boy as a shield `that the boy's innocence might serve to protect him.' Whither Solitude? He then proceeds to quote Virgil, Horace and Diogenes Laertius, giving the reader a discourse on reason and prudence, concluding that travel is not the answer to a man's problems, for he always carries them with him: `If a man do not first discharge both himself and his mind of the burden with which he finds himself oppressed, motion will but make it press the harder and sit the heavier, as the lading of a ship is of less encumbrance when fast and bestowed in a settled posture.' All this to say that although it may broaden the mind, a man cannot escape his problems through travel.
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Started out with the Cotton translation but found it very challenging, heavy going, often incomprehensible. The extra dollars for the Screech translation were well worth it - delightful by comparison. Would be interested in other translations by him.
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This first volume of Montaigne's works is actually a collection of his letters, rather than his essays. As an ebook, this is a good edition--there are very few errors, suggesting the text was either hand-keyed or the OCR was carefully reviewed by a human operator.
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This book contains some very interesting material - the discussion about stoic and epicurean philosophy for example but also a lot of material that is not very engaging at all. It also is constructed as a series of essays in roughly chronological order. Not for everyone.
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With Montaigne, take your time, savour him a little at a time. He teaches us how to live, how to think about things, how to get your head straight in a world of turmoil and change. But never preaches, never moralizes, never puffs himself up. He puts you in touch with the moral philosophers of the classical world and you can watch him evolve from a stoic to a skeptic, from a man learning to die to a one who has learned to live.
I re-read the essays about once a year. The best translations for modern readers are by M. A. Screech (Penguin) or Donald Frame (Everyman's Library). Frame has the advantage of including Montaigne's extant letters and travel journals.
Excellent introductions to Montaigne's life and thought can be found in Sarah Bakewell's "How to Live: Or a Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer" and Saul Frampton's "When I am playing with my cat, how do I know that she is not playing with me: Montaigne and Being in Touch with Life." Read Bakewell and Frampton before, during, or after reading Montaigne himself.
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If you'd like to know a bit about humankind and perhaps yourself this might help. Wise perceptions of self and other.
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Italian author Italo Calvino once wrote that "A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say." This is a classic by the creator of the essay as a literary genre which needs no introduction. The reader just have to delight in the author's unbeatable wit. A free spirit, Montaigne's uncomparable erudition provides numerous examples for his theses that are worth a complete course on Ancient History, Classic Philosophy and the Bible. Had he ever read this book, Professor Higgins would have never maintained, as he did in My Fair Lady, that "The French never care what they say, actually, as long as theY pronounce it properly". The English edition is a great help for those struggling with the original version, written in convoluted XVI-century French _ and, of course, a savvy cost-benefit bet!
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