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Montaigne (Pushkin Collection) Paperback – November 10, 2015
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"Thanks to Stone's assiduous translation, Zweig's fascinating meditation on the writer in whom he saw himself mirrored appears now for the first time in English. Zweig weaves biographical elements into his study—Montaigne's study of Latin at age four, his retirement from his public duties as a French nobleman at age 38—but the book is more properly an introduction to an endlessly inquisitive thinker who never stopped searching for the truth... This captivating study portrays a writer whose life and work can be summed up by his constant posing of the question, 'How should I live?'" — Publishers Weekly
'Zweig's accumulated historical and cultural studies remain a body of achievement almost too impressive to take in' - Clive James
'[Pushkin Press's republication of Stefan Zweig's work] has been entirely successful. Zweigmania seems to break out with the publication of each book, with readers discovering his work by word-of-mouth and by accident' - Guardian
'[Zweig's] life and work tell of the perilous flimsiness of our world of security-a message that many insistently deny, but somehow need to hear' - John Gray, New Statesman
About the Author
Stefan Zweig was born in 1881 in Vienna, into a wealthy Austrian-Jewish family. He studied in Berlin and Vienna and was first known as a poet and translator, then as a biographer. Between the wars, Zweig was an international bestseller with a string of hugely popular novellas including Letter from an Unknown Woman, Amok and Fear. In 1934, with the rise of Nazism, he left Austria, and lived in London, Bath and New York-a period during which he produced his most celebrated works: his only novel, Beware of Pity, and his memoir, The World of Yesterday. He eventually settled in Brazil, where in 1942 he and his wife were found dead in an apparent double suicide. Much of his work is available from Pushkin Press.
Translated from the German by Will Stone.
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Those who have read other of Sweig's biographies will not be surprised at the lack of citations for quotes in the text. I noted the lack of footnotes in Marie Antoinette: The Portrait of an Average Woman. While at first this may have irked me in this latter book, I grew not to mind it at all. And in Montaigne it really did not bother me as I knew that the source was Montaigne unless another source was mentioned, such as a letter from the king. I am only mentioning this as it is a Zweig quirk, not a publishing error.
I highly recommend this as a brief and engaging introduction to the life of Montaigne and a glimpse into the Essays. What better service can a biography provide than to whet the appetite for the works of its subject.
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review.
First, let me say that you should get your hands (literally) on this book to see how a beautiful book is made. Pushkin Press is serious about creating wonderful pieces of art. I am a bit of a sucker for carefully done books, but this book offers more than aesthetic satisfaction.
Zweig's book is short, but contains much food for thought. I find Monataigne compelling in many ways, yet badly deceived in his own quest for being an authentic human. Still, there were many insights which made me chew on significant matters.
I must say that the introduction by Will Stone is wonderfully written.