- Paperback: 416 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Books; Revised ed. edition (July 1, 1993)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 014017897X
- ISBN-13: 978-0140178975
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.7 x 7.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 135 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #206,443 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Montaigne: Essays Paperback – July 1, 1993
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From the Back Cover
Taken together, this selection of essays forms an exquisitely drawn portrait that depicts the strength and warmth of Montaigne's personality. And, as J.M. Cohen observes in his introduction, 'One sees, as one reads him, how broad his mind was, and how many of the ideas of the next two centuries he grasped by anticipation.'
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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To start with Translation: Both major translations are excellent in their own way, but some differences are of note. When a translation is done, usually the translator will translate the major language of the text, French in this case, and leave quotes by the author from other languages, mostly Latin in this case, untranslated. The translator will provide a note with the translation of the quote, and preferably the source of the quote.
This is where Screech and Frame differ considerably. Screech does what should be done, and Frame just translates everything into English with no significant notations other than the person quoted. This means, however, that one may prefer one translation over the other based on this alone. For example, one that wishes to take a more scholarly look will likely use Screech (or the original), and one that simply wants to read for pleasure may have no problem using the translation by Frame. Also, Screech is British and Frame is American, so one may have other preferences for style.
As for the Physical Copy:
The physical copies of Frame's translation (Stanford and Everyman's) are vastly superior to the Penguin Classics Screech version. The Penguin paperback is thick, but in keeping with the generally small form factor, the print is terribly small, and the paper is of a horrible quality, which is the reason I also purchased the Kindle version.
As for the Kindle version:
The Penguin Classics Kindle file is much more pleasant to read and deal with than the paperback alternative. However, there are many errors in the Kindle version that are not present in the paperback version. It appears some items get corrected occasionally, but still, it is not nice to charge so much for the Kindle version, and not have it completely proofread and ready for primetime.
This actually lead me to have a conversation with a Penguin representative about the quality of the Kindle version, and in that conversation, I learned something I had not realized before. Penguin does not produce the Kindle version. Amazon does. So, all of the quality issues I have noticed in the past about Kindle versions essentially are the fault of Amazon rather than the publisher listed. I suppose the publisher only sells Amazon license to produce the Kindle file and sets price limitations, and Amazon does the rest. This needs to change, because there needs to be more quality control.
***EDIT 02/01/2016: SEE COMMENT BELOW BY RAFA. APPARENTLY, IT IS THE PUBLISHER'S FAULT, NOT AMAZON'S.***
However, because of the limitations of the Penguin paperback, I would still recommend the Kindle version if one is to read Screech.
Five stars for Montaigne's Complete Essays, regardless of which version one chooses to read.
The Frame volume includes other works by Montaigne such as his travel journals. Thus, it is more complete than either Cotton or Screech. This volume is over 1300 pages and is not very portable. Still I recommend it as being more complete and a little more readable.
GREAT & CELEBRATED BOOK (difficult read), fast shipping, came exactly as described. This is the ONE for those who are ready to dive into the deepend. This is the serious one. Every essay is different and wonderful. I am attaching photographs of THIS version (Screech) so that you can see what you are diving into. My copy has been noted as I have been teaching him.
The writer to publish the first personal essay, and most essays are short and intriguing in that they use psychology to communicate his messages. This is done through poetry, historical references, linguistics, theology, imaginary scenarios and intriguing language. every essay is a paradox. You do not need to know that, hence the enjoyable aspect. Montaigne has influenced writers/figures like Eliot, Freud, Shakespeare, Descartes and more.
It's important only if you are interested (or are required) in understanding the translation process. Screech dives into the history that influenced Montaigne's essays. His introduction tells you a bit about Montaigne, but it is not that long and can be skipped. He also explains how he went about translating his version of this collection.
OMISSIONS OF WORKS IN SCREECH’S BOOK
There's stuff missing in a bunch of the collections because he has written so much. If you are looking for something rare or specific, you should look which book it is before purchasing. All of them are available on Amazon..
HELP FOR STUDENTS
Some college professors are adamant that only this book be read. You might need to write papers with citations. This book is very different than the other books. Screech's is better for students and scholars. It includes citations and the very short Latin and French quotes that he uses, though all of it is translated into English for you. The Latin and French line/quotes/references are usually very short. The translations are right next to quotes in parenthesis. If you purchase a different collection, you will have a very difficult time with writing papers because of the varying translations.
Overall, this is a phenomenal read produced by a prolific and prominent man. Screech does a great job. This is the best book of the collections that I have purchased, though it is the most difficult to understand. Again, this collection is more for scholars and academics. Montaigne is studied to this day, nearly as much as Shakespeare because of the sheer difficulty of the paradoxes presented, but, they are enlightening and enjoyable. In terms of literature, Montaigne is one of the "trickiest" reads (he calls himself tricky-- it is a bit of his trademark).
His writing style is relaxing and candid. The book is broken up into numerous seemingly disjointed sections and can be read for 10 minutes or a couple hours at a time. Montaigne writes in a friendly tone but also covers plenty of serious subjects. This book is unique in providing what life was like for one man who lived over four centuries ago.