Michel de Montaigne: Selected Essays
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Michel de Montaigne: Selected Essays

4.03 of 5 stars 4.03  ·  rating details  ·  1,009 ratings  ·  61 reviews
One of France's great Renaissance thinkers, Michel de Montaigne (1533–92) invented the essay as a literary form. This compilation features the best of his brief, highly readable reflections on poetry, philosophy, theology, law, literature, education, and world exploration.
Remarkably modern in their views, the essays continue to resonate with readers as their author bemoans...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published January 17th 2012 by Dover Publications (first published 1580)
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Jan-Maat
"To learn that one has said or done a foolish thing, that is nothing; one must learn that one is nothing but a fool, a much more comprehensive and important lesson".

There is sheer joy for me in that sentence.

It opens up a new starting point in life, not one of humility but of humour. There is basic honesty about one's own ridiculousness, but also an honesty about the validity and value of one's own experience and life, as clumsy and awkward as this may be.

The honesty and directness about his ow...more
Kelly
Alas, Real Life has intruded, and I had to cut short my acquaintance with M. Montaigne. I had mixed feelings about this, much like you have mixed feelings about a friend coming to save you from a fascinating person you've just met at a party- one with rather a high opinion of himself that he isn't shy of airing, but one that might possibly be well-justified. In a conversation with this person, you might find yourself bereft of something to say to him after the fifth or sixth time his cliche-fill...more
Rhonda
I first read The Essays in high school and was astounded that, amidst all the really terrible literature that I had to read, these essays came through like a breath of fresh air. Admittedly, this wasn't required reading, but it was a fortuitous meeting for my relatively unstructured yet passionate psyche.
What I admired more about Montaigne more than anything was his restraint and dedication to creating a format: each of the essays was constructed with such beauty and grace that each lacked a sen...more
Becca
There are so many kernels of truth in Montaigne's writing that I won't even bother making a list of quotes - but I will say that it's hard to tell that his essays were written in the 16th century. They're an exploration of his true character and I think it's safe to say that not much has changed about the human experience or psyche in 500 years. Montaigne seems so modern (and often so humorous and frank) because he holds nothing back from himself or his readers and that's refreshing to read - to...more
Pedro Freitas
Primeira, superficial e talvez até mesquinha avaliação da obra: Estamos perante auto-ajuda do século XVI. Calma conhecedores literários do senhor Montaigne, estou consciente da blasfémia que aqui disse! Até porque estamos perante um conjunto de ensaios bem melhor embrulhados que qualquer livro peseudo místico/iluminador exposto numa qualquer prateleira de supermercado. Aqui há ética e verdadeiro conhecimento. No fundo Montaigne não é um doutrinador, nem criou uma corrente filosófica qualquer, di...more
Laura
Jan 13, 2012 Laura rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Laura by: Bettie
From BBC Radio 3:

In 1588, the essayist and landowner Michel de Montaigne, set out on a journey round the troubled kingdom of France. He was on a mission - to reconcile the Valois King Henri the Third, a Catholic, with his likely successor, the Bourbon King of Navarre, a Protestant. It's high stakes: intensified Civil War the consequence of failure.

It's a Kindle freebie at Amazon either in English or in French. Thanks Misfit for the tip on Dumas books, I found almost one hundred more books in Fre...more
Atakan Alpakıncı
Müthiş bir zeka ve çoğu konu üzerinde farklı bakış açıları arayanlar için güzel bir kitap. Klasik niteliğinde zaten. Yazıldığı dönemin de özelliklerini baz alırsak savaş ile ilgili konular üzerinde çok durması dikkatimi çekti. Okuyan çok şey kazanır.
Alan Hoyle
Simply wonderful! Montaigne: a man for all ages.

I also really like this translation by M.A. Screech - where other modern(ish)translations I have read reshape the sentence structures to achieve a more familiar modern tone - Screech remains faithful to the Latinate structures that Montaigne employs (for Montaigne's first eight year, he was exposed only to Latin, and, though he wrote in French, Latin remained as his linguistic DNA).

The essays never cease to amaze and delight; they are a wonderful c...more
Bev Hankins
I have to say that Monsieur Montaigne doesn't do a whole lot for me. It may be the translation, but he comes across as rather pompous, full of himself, and long-winded. I think the most irritating thing is that he spends one whole essay ("Of the Education of Children") telling us how tutors/teachers shouldn't just teach children to regurgitate facts or spout the learned words of the great men who come before them, but should be taught to reason and understand what the great men's words meant and...more
Viktoras
Renesanso perlas. Šiuose esė (sakoma, kad šis autorius pradėjo šį žanrą) Mišelis de Montenis (Michel de Montaigne) atskleidžia tikrąją humanizmo ir renesanso minties esmę. Skaitant knygą negalėjau paleisti pieštuko iš rankų, tiek daug nuostabių minčių, kurias norisi pasibraukti, pasižymėti ir nepamiršti. Nors dauguma jų ir taip daug kartų girdėtos, keistas jausmas, skaityti kitų autorių knygas, kurie gimė keletu šimtų metų vėliau ir rasti Montenio išsakytas mintis, pastebėjimus.

Šiai knygai tink...more
Robert
The French nobleman Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) was one of the originators of the modern discursive essay, a walk through and around a subject as if it were a garden or an interesting property or house. He is a hinge figure, in some senses, between the classical era (still a great influence on the educated classes of Europe) and the subsequent ventures into the Age of Reason and Romanticism.

Montaigne isn't a writer to be read front to back. He's to be read a little bit at a time. His chief s...more
David Sarkies
It took me a while to actually get into this book, but now I have completed it, I must say that I am quite glad that I read this. The version that I read was only a collection of his essay, so today I made my way to the second hand bookshop and pick up a copy of his complete essays (which I plan on reading by bits).
Montaigne was a French noble living about the time of Shakespeare (actually a little before) and these essays are more a collection of thoughts that he writes throughout his life. We...more
CJ Bowen
"In truth, either reason is joking or her target must be our happiness" 17

"Life has no evil for him who has thoroughly understood that loss of life is not an evil." 24

"Life itself is neither a good nor an evil: life is where good or evil find a place, depending on how you make it for them." 32

The usefulness of living lies not in duration but in what you make of it. Some have lived long and lived little." 34

p. 54 "Some philosophers..."

"Learning must not only lodge with us: we must marry her." 73

"...more
M. Milner
Any Montaigne is more or less something I'd recommend (aside from his distasteful opinions towards women, he's remarkably timeless), so I'm concerned here mostly with the edition I read: J.M. Cohen's older translation for Penguin Classics, which has been reissued with as Montaigne: Essays. It's maybe a little stuffy, but it's a charming translation, well annotated with lots of notes (mostly to identify and translate the various quotes Montaigne sprinkled throughout his text). The introduction is...more
Unbridled
Took a surprisingly long time to finish this book. It's a short book, but writ (translated) with ye olde English grammar and spelling, which is like reading a foreign language though the words are (mostly) so obvious in meaning. Gide's introduction is excellent. Montaigne had a beautiful and winding mind - must be a French thing - well ahead of his time (he was a favorite of Shakespeare). The following quote is one of the 'easier' passages to understand; but only upon re-reading did I appreciate...more
Mommalibrarian
This is not the exact book I read. Mine was Michel de Montaigne: Selected Essays translated, and with introduction and notes by Donald M. Frame, published for the Classic Club by Walter J. Black, Inc., Roslyn, N.Y.

Montaine is not a person I would enjoy befriending. He proudly states on several occassions his contempt for science; he prefers the ancient Greek and Roman writers to anything more recent. He tells us he is lazy, unattractive, and uninformed about even the most casual explanations of...more
Bria
I can see why every intellectual you run across recommends him so highly. The admissions he makes about his own personality and quirks are those that, although ostensibly presented as a weakness or failing, are really desired or admired by self-absorbed misanthropes such as myself. When I read Montaigne, who is so highly regarded by the history of literature, confessing to being not only unwilling but unable to perform the small and harmless acts of dissembling or dishonesty that basic human int...more
Tom Schulte
Jul 27, 2011 Tom Schulte rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Tom by: find books by title / author / isbn
This book is translated into what I'd call King James English, so it is all "meseemeth" and "peradventure". However, no beauty comes through in this archaic tones, as it does with the excellent quotes he gleans, such as some quotes I like from what Montaigne has compiled here:

"A Man can never take good heed, Hourly what he may shun and speed."
- Horace

"That wise man I cannot abide, That for himself cannot privde."
- Euripedes

Now Montaigne himself came to loathe the focus on learning he gave ma...more
Gwen Burrow
Monsieur Michel reminded me of Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye. Holden would give a speech at school and never stick to his topic, but instead hopscotch from one thing to the next no matter how many times his audience yelled “Digression!” That’s what reading Montaigne was like, except I never felt like yelling “Digression!” He was too interesting and all. His essay on death was the best, and I don’t think this because I’m morbid or anything (like my sisters say), but because what he s...more
Selin Yıldız
kendini beğenmek insanın özünde, yaratılışında olan bir hastalıktır. insan yaratıkların en zavallısı, en cılızıdır öyleyken en mağruru da odur. şurada, dünyanın çamuru ve pisliği içinde oturduğunu, evrenin en kötü, en ölü, en aşağı katında, göklerin kubbesinden en uzakta, üç cinsten yaratıkların en kötü haldekileriyle birlikte, dünya evinin en alt katına bağlı ve çakılı olduğunu bilir, görür ve yine hayaliyle, aydan yukarılara çıkıp gökleri ayaklarımın altına indirmek sevdasıyla yaşar.

aynı haya...more
Larry Hostetler
Sometimes the classics elude me. This book was a struggle to get through. Not just because it was written half a millennium ago.

Interspersed throughout there are quotes from even older classics, and for that reason I appreciated the writing. There were some great quotes and good perspectives, but since it was basically a philosophical treatise I was not engaged nor my attention captured.

A series of essays, the translation seemed very erudite, and I was confident that the translator worked to f...more
Dainius Jocas
Jei turėčiau užduotį pasibraukti viską, kas toje knygoje vertinga, turbūt lengviausiai ją įgyvendinčiau perspausdindamas visą knygą bold italic raudonu šriftu.

Labai prancūziška. Dar pridėsiu, kad yra be galo nerimta apie save galvoti labai rimtai. Bet apie save, anot Montenio, būtina daug ir rimtai galvoti stengiantis tą niekšą pažinti. Todėl visas gyvenimas išvirsta į kažką labai ribotai rimto mąstant visokias nesąmones. Žavu.
Marti Martinson
In my best Comic Book Guy voice, "Coolest Renaissance dude, ever."

This edition is selections from his three volume work. One could simply quote dozens of dozens of pithy, deep, flighty, comic, or serious sentences, but this should really be READ. The sections on the education of children and parental affection are amazing for being 16th century; they'd be amazing for the 21st. Yes, he is a big old chauvinist in places but he is not hateful. 4 instead of 5 stars.....

But I would like to share JUST...more
Bill
I anticipated a philosophy book when I started reading this. I had a real "take my annual medicine" attitude, especially given how old the essays are.

All of these are eminently readable, though, if (pleasantly) meandering. While the subject matter is philosophical, the writing is not intently logical, often choosing instead to meander around anecdotally.

I've got a few quotes written down, but I do have to say this is a book I feel like I should've gotten more out of. Maybe that's the lack of fo...more
Laila
Uzun zamandır okudugum kitaplar boyle keyif vermiyordu diyerek baslayayim. Her sayfasinda hayata dair bir seyler buldugum yazildigi donemden bu gune insanı ve ona dair her seyi kapsayan mantikli onermeler sunan Montaigne kitabi.

Ozellikle "yamyamlar uzerine" bolumunu okurken cok dusundugumu soyleyebilirim. Algilari ve gorunenin otesini yalin bir dille size aktarisiyla dusunce yapinizi temelden degistirebilecek bir eser.

Her insanin hayatinin belli donemlerinde yeniden okumasi gerekir dedirtecek...more
Robert Browning
To be honest, I've read several of the essays but not all. It's very astounding that the insight of this writer has carried forward over the years into today. Montaigne's observations about the way humans think are witty and still relevant. His essay on the Power of the Imagination shows Montaigne was a behavioral psychologist before there was psychology. Similarly, his essay "On Cannibals" shows he was a cultural anthropologist before anthropology. I hope to come back and read his remaining ess...more
James Violand
Jul 02, 2014 James Violand rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone with gray matter.
Shelves: own
A brilliant man's observations. A classic on how to engage a reader by making the mundane intersting
Miray
"Ortaokulda doğru şeyler de okumuşum" dedirten.
Frosh
I’ve read a handful from the Donald Frame translation but prefer Screech. If anyone can be placed on a plane with Shakespeare for me, it is Montaigne. This selection includes some of the big ones, such as “On some lines of Virgil,” “On experience,” “On education,” “On fear,” and so on to the tune of 400 superlative pages. The Complete Essays is the true gem, but I bought that for the apartment; this one is for the train.
Hans de Zwart
How to Live: A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer made me want to read some of Montaigne's essays. They were quite wonderful and are a treasure trove of wise quotes. Montaigne now has made me want to read more of the classic Greeks. Onwards!
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17241
Michel Eyquem de Montaigne was one of the most influential writers of the French Renaissance. Montaigne is known for popularizing the essay as a literary genre. He became famous for his effortless ability to merge serious intellectual speculation with casual anecdotes and autobiography — and his massive volume Essais (translated literally as "Attempts") contains, to this day, some of the most wide...more
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“The most fruitful and natural exercise for our minds is, in my opinion, conversation.” 49 likes
“Let the tutor not merely require a verbal account of what the boy has been taught but the meaning and the substance of it: let him judge how the child has profited from it not from the evidence of his memory but from that of his life. Let him take what the boy has just learned and make him show him dozens of different aspects of it and then apply it to just as many different subjects, in order to find out whether he has really grasped it and make it part of himself, judging the boy's progress by what Plato taught about education. Spewing up food exactly as you have swallowed it is evidence of a failure to digest and assimilate it; the stomach has not done its job if, during concoction, it fails to change the substance and the form of what it is given.” 22 likes
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