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Showing 1-10 of 77 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 117 reviews
VINE VOICEon December 20, 2013
Montaigne's Essays are one of the more enjoyable massive tomes of renaissance writing available, and if reading in English, one has two major modern choices of translation, Screech and Frame.

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.


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.
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on July 16, 2016
I have three translations of Montaigne - Cotton, Frame (this one) and Screech (no kidding). The Cotton translation was done in the late 18th century and is some what difficult to read. Frame was done in the 1950's and is very readable. Screech is more recent and is also quite readable. Frame simply translates Montaigne's frequent Latin quotes whereas Screech presents the Latin along with the translation. While this may be more scholarly, it is distracting if you don't read Latin.

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.
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on November 17, 2013
At first I had reservations about buying this because Penguin's site gives a table of contents for this book that is actually from Montaigne's SELECTED Essays. I didn't want to pay this much for a selection, but I took a chance, and was relieved to find that this IS the COMPLETE Essays. The caveat is that although this is a beautiful book, it has no footnotes, introductory material or index. Hence, it is a nice reader's edition, but those looking for a deluxe hardcover version of the 2003 paperback with all its features will be disappointed.
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on April 4, 2017
Full Review- Book, Montaigne, Differences Between Two translated Version & Photos

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.

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..

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).
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on October 19, 2010
This Kindle edition of Montaigne's Complete Essays get a three star rating because as of today Amazon is still treating different translations as if they are the same thing. So, if you are looking at something costing about a dollar, you are probably looking at an old translation by Charles Cotton, which is widely available for free on the internet from sources such as project Gutenberg, and I'd give it a rating of one star. On the other hand, if you are looking at something costing around $15, it might be a modern translation by M. A. Screech (from Penguin) and I will give it a five-star rating. Please be aware that these prices are subject to change in the future. If you are not certain which is which, download a sample first to make sure it is the edition you want.

The Charles Cotton translation Michel de Montaigne - The Complete Essays (mobi), dated back in the 17th century, could be a little hard to understand sometimes. If you prefer (as I do) to read a modern translation of Montaigne, M. A. Screech's excellent translation has just become available on Kindle The Complete Essays. It is a little more expensive than the Cotton translation, but well worth the money. I also have the complete essays translated by Donald Frame The Complete Essays of Montaigne, which I actually like a little more because I have been reading the book for a while. But it is a physical book and I don't think it is available on the Kindle yet.
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on November 2, 2016
I have read Montaigne for years including during higher education. While his views reflect a different era his observations of the human condition are relevant. “Man is stark mad; he cannot make a flea, and yet he will be making gods by the dozens.”
―Michel de Montaigne - words of wisdom! I nearly called my son 'Etienne' who was Montaigne's best friend.
Worth the read and enjoy the philosophy
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on March 25, 2015
I was very frustrated to realize that this version is missing many essays. Part One for example consists of 57 essays, this version provides 14. Thus the flow of the book is disrupted and the author intended order is destroyed. I wish this would have been advertised in the description.
Instead of just listing what it contains, it should have stated that it is not containing the majority of the essays.
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on June 8, 2015
De Montaigne, in his chateau tower (his wife occupied the other tower), felt complete freedom in writing whatever he thought about anything. He was not restrained by religion, popular ideas on decency, or anything much. Hence most of his writing is as refreshing as it may have been the day it was written. It would be trite to call him a thoroughly modern man but you feel that as he is "speaking" to you over more than four and a half centuries. Yet he would have little time for much of what is covered by the word "modern" these days. It has been one of my better purchases over the last few months.
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on April 8, 2017
it might take me a year, but I will finishe this 1000 page journey. I only wish the publishing of this book had been of better quality. Hard to hold, tiny print. Two volumes of a better made book would be appreciated, I am sure.
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on October 27, 2013
Montaigne is regarded as one of the greatest writers of the Western tradition because of his profound understanding of human nature. Reportedly, Shakespeare read and drew on Montaigne's insights. This Penguin edition has a modern English translation (by M.A. Screech) which makes the essays very accessible. (Some other, older translations are hard going from a language point of view.) These are essays to dip into - and to learn from, even though Montaigne always said he was only writing personal thoughts and was not trying to teach. Definitely a book for your library!
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