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The Complete Essays

4.22  ·  Rating Details  ·  9,943 Ratings  ·  343 Reviews
Michel de Montaigne was one of the most influential figures of the Renaissance, singlehandedly responsible for popularising the essay as a literary form. This Penguin Classics edition of The Complete Essays is translated from the French and edited with an introduction and notes by M.A. Screech.

In 1572 Montaigne retired to his estates in order to devote himself to leisure,
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Paperback, 1344 pages
Published February 25th 1993 by Penguin Classics (first published 1572)
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Community Reviews

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Geoff
Oct 31, 2014 Geoff rated it it was amazing
Okay I've read enough of this now, in a wide variety of settings, at miscellaneous times, within sundry atmospheres, such as late nights in bed under the lamp's pale glow, bright mornings early at certain tables or on metros, over coffees and over beers or over blended rye or such-like things, in times of happiness and times of depression, in times of relative wealth and in times of poverty, in the stark wet heat of summer and the stark dry freeze of winter, under the rapture of autumn foliage a ...more
Warwick
Clive James says somewhere that certain people throughout history are like ambassadors from the present stationed in the past: though separated from us by centuries, to read them is to share in thoughts and feelings that we recognise intimately as our own. And this is what Montaigne has been for me since I started reading him several years ago. He is the first person in history who strikes me as modern – or at least, the first to put that modern sense of uncertainty and existential nerviness dow ...more
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
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Lotz
e'ssay. (2) A loose sally of the mind; an irregular indigested piece; not a regular and orderly composition.
—From Samuel Johnson's Dictionary of the English Language.

Now I finally have an answer to the famous “desert island book” question: This book. It would have to be. Not that Montaigne’s Essays is necessarily the greatest book I’ve ever read—it’s not. But here Montaigne managed to do something that has eluded the greatest of our modern science: to preserve a complete likeness of a person.
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Lizzy
"I turn my gaze inward, I fix it there and keep it busy. Everyone looks in front of him; as for me; I look inside me; I have no business but with myself, I take stock of myself, I taste myself… I roll about in myself."
Alas, Montaigne inspires me! The Complete Essays covers all king of subjects and it is an almost eternal work in progress for me. It honestly deals with humanity itself. Montaigne is entertaining, compelling, and inclined to digression. I read Montaigne at indiscriminate times
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Julia
Sep 03, 2009 Julia rated it it was amazing
Shelves: on-pause
I kind of half jokingly refer to this book as "the introverts bible". Certainly a must read, especially for those of us who live a more contemplative life. The Essays are moving and funny, edifying, and at times very sad. Montaigne's observations range from the very specific and particular to the huge and universal. I don't always agree with what he says, but I am engaged nonetheless. I feel as I read this book that I'm always in conversation with him.

I know I will be reading and re-reading The
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Jessica
May 14, 2011 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tonight, all across America, tens of thousands of teenagers - perhaps hundreds of thousands - sit in front of laptops, writing essays. It is the most dreaded homework assignment for many of them, and if they go on to college, it will be the assignment most cited as making them lose sleep, their printer to break, their grandmother to die, their car to break down, etc. etc.

Tonight, all across America, tens of thousands of teachers and professors count and recount the remaining essays in their grad
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Szplug
Feb 15, 2011 Szplug rated it it was amazing
Montaigne is one of my all-time favorite dudes - truly a bridge between eras and endowed with enough sagacity and wisdom to guide a nation. Wonderful and warm humanity and sparklingly sere humor, but he can chuck 'em, too: a handful of quiet paragraphs from his essays on Liars and Cowards scorches the flesh from deceitful bones and craven limbs.

Thanks to a screw-up by the company I ordered Screech's translation from I received two copies - one for my desk at the office, one for the table beside
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Tijana
Apr 22, 2016 Tijana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Montenj je moj drug i učitelj <3
Od sve filozofije koju sam čitala (a recimo da sam čitala sve iole bitno, do Kanta. Od Kanta nastaje viševekovna pomrčina u mom čitanju filozofa i traje sve do današnjih dana*) niko mi nije ovako na ličnom nivou drag i prisno poznat. Kad god uzmem Eseje, dovoljno je dvadeset-trideset strana i već se potpuno zanesem i smeškam a Montenj me samo šarmira svojom beskrajnom duhovitošću, tolerancijom i opuštenošću prema životu. Nekako: dobar, pametan, običan čovek, al
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David Sarkies
Mar 25, 2015 David Sarkies rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: People who love philosophical ramblings
Recommended to David by: My bible college lecturer
Shelves: philosophy
A French aristocrat shares his personal opinions
6 January 2013

Normally I would wait until I have finished a book to write a commentary, however this book is a lot different in that is contains a large collection of essays on a multiple of subjects. Secondly, I have not been reading this book continually, but rather picking it up, reading a few essays, and then putting it down again. I originally read a selection of these essays but when I finished it I decided to get my hands on a complete vers
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Jeff
May 02, 2012 Jeff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
so easy to read again and again. if you let him, montaigne will be your buddy for life. this is the great-great-great grandfather of the best blog on life you've read.
Florencia
A Montaigne essay a day keeps the doctor away.

BOOK I
1. We reach the same end by discrepant means
2. On sadness
The force of extreme sadness inevitably stuns the whole of our soul, impeding her freedom of action.

Chi puo dir com'egli arde e in picciol fuoco
[He who can describe how his heart is ablaze is burning on a small pyre]
Petrarch, Sonnet 137.

3. Our emotions get carried away beyond us
4. How the soul discharges its emotions against false objects when lacking real ones
5. Whether the governor
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Luís Blue Coltrane
The finest souls are those that have more variety and flexibility.

Book III, 3
Jim Coughenour
Aug 15, 2008 Jim Coughenour rated it it was amazing
Shelves: thinkingcap
I've been skipping my way around Montaigne's superb Essays this summer. This is possibly the best bedside book ever – or if you're a morning person, an excellent companion for a leisurely cup of coffee.

Written almost 500 years ago, these essays are as fresh as tomorrow. Montaigne is always ahead of us. His genuinely compassionate, restless and skeptical mind never flags in its humanistic curiosity – and his quiet observations and tentative conclusions will shock even the most jaded reader with a
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David
Oct 16, 2009 David rated it it was amazing
Michel de Montaigne (1533 – 1592) is famous for shutting himself away in a book-lined tower in 1572 and assaying his thoughts and opinions, essentially attempting to discover what, if anything, he really knew about himself and the human condition. Descartes attempted the same sort of venture in 1637 in his three Discourses, prefaced by his celebrated Discourse on Method, in which his starting point was that all he knew for certain was that he existed, and systematically climbed his way out of a ...more
Janet
Feb 20, 2012 Janet rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy-essay
My favorite philosopher, he's anecdotal rather than dialectical/dialogue or logical/mathematical/linguistical. He was the first writer, certainly the first philosopher, who talked about personal experience of living in the body, with a great generosity of spirit towards the flaws of the human being. He's companionable, he makes you feel that being human is a noble and worthwhile thing, even if you're sick or grumpy or overwhelmed with your own failures. People should throw out all their self-hel ...more
Laura
I am proofreading this book in French through Free Literature, published by Librarie de Paris, 1907.

Premier Volume:
The original file was provided by Internet Arquive.
Megan
Humility is a good quality. Montaigne could have used a little bit of it.
William1
Dec 28, 2014 William1 rated it it was amazing
Second reading.
robert
Jan 02, 2012 robert rated it really liked it
The only essay that I read in its entirety was the long final essay titled "Of Experience" which endeavors to tell us how to live, so that's what I'm addressing here. The translation I read was by Donald Frame because Harold Bloom recommended it.

Harder to read than I would have liked, primarily because you feel like you have to keep starting over because Montaigne keeps changing his focus -- from sleep to food to ovens to laws to death to disease to . . . .

I envy Michel the peace of mind he se
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Perihan
Mar 18, 2016 Perihan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Kitaplar, yaşlılığımda ve yalnızlığımda avuturlar beni. Sıkıntılı bir avareliğin baskısından kurtarır, hoşlanmadığım kişilerin havasından dilediğim zaman ayırıverir beni...
Rahatımı kaçıran bir saplantıyı başımdan atmak için kitaplara başvurmaktan iyisi yoktur, hemen kendilerine beni çekerler, içimdekilerini uzaklaştırırlar. Onları aramadığım zamanlarda bile bana hiç kızmaz, kitaplar her zaman aynı sevecenlikle beni karşılarlar . İnsan hayatı denen bu yolculukta, benim bulduğum en iyi nevale KİT
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Rosa Ramôa
Jun 08, 2016 Rosa Ramôa rated it it was amazing
"Nada nos Satisfaz


Se ocasionalmente nos ocupássemos em nos examinar, e o tempo que gastamos para controlar os outros e para saber das coisas que estão fora de nós o empregássemos em nos sondar a nós mesmos, facilmente sentiríamos o quanto todo esse nosso composto é feito de peças frágeis e falhas. Acaso não é uma prova singular de imperfeição não conseguirmos assentar o nosso contentamento em coisa alguma, e que, mesmo por desejo e imaginação, esteja fora do nosso poder escolher o que nos é nece
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Ryan
Imagine for a moment, that by simply opening a beautifully preserved, leather-bound book, you’d be able to participate in a uniquely illuminating heart-to-heart talk with a French Renaissance luminary, on virtually any timeless topic: from drinking, sex, love, poetry, philosophy and countless more. All in a manner of style that is surprisingly similar to how we communicate with one another today: informally, without artificial flourishes or ornate extravagance. The man in question is Michel de M ...more
Adnan
Jan 21, 2016 Adnan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Montaigne'nin Kendimi Anlamak ile başladığı ilk denemesinde, "Birçokları içip sarhoş oluyor diye, şarabı yasak etmek yanlıştır; fazla kaçırılan şeyler hep iyi şeylerdir. Kendinden sözetmenin kötü sayılması bence yalnız, halkın düşeceği kaba hatalardan ötürüdür. Bu türlü kurallar budalalara vurulan dizginlerdir: Ne azizler -ki kendilerinden pekâlâ sözederler- ne filozoflar, ne bilginler bu kuralları dinler; onlara hiç benzememekle beraber ben de bu kuralları dinlemiyorum. Onların ereği kendilerin ...more
Nelson Zagalo
Os “Ensaios” de Montaigne criam a partir da sua leitura uma experiência magistral em termos da aprendizagem de si, obrigando-nos a confrontar a importância da leitura e do seu impacto sobre o nosso ser. Montaigne começou esta obra em 1571, com 38 anos, tendo terminado a mesma apenas na sua morte, em 1592, com 59 anos. Os “Ensaios” foram um projeto de vida, mas mais do que isso ou talvez por isso mesmo, demonstram em si o processo de transformação intelectual de um ser humano. Neste caso falamos ...more
Michael
Jun 16, 2013 Michael rated it it was ok
Shelves: classics
If you've secretly believed that no person could consider himself educated until he had read Montaigne, among many others -- I am here to set you free. It's not that the inventor of the essay is that terrible; he's OK (though no Aldous Huxley -- those are essays worth reading). He covers a lot of ground, he skips about fearlessly even in one essay, and he has a great way of putting in quotes from his own reading, Juvenal, Ovid, Horace, Catullus, Virgil and Propertius. But he is not a first-class ...more
Prooost Davis
May 06, 2012 Prooost Davis rated it it was amazing
I've been burdening my Facebook friends with Montaigne quotes for several months now. Michel de Montaigne (1533 - 1592) was the inventor of the personal essay (in French, essai meaning "attempt"). He did not use the modifier "personal," but he did say that the only subject he felt qualified to write about was himself. With that stated restriction, Montaigne wrote about everything, and brilliantly.

The complete essays run to over 800 pages, but I didn't regret a single page. For the most part, his
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Douglas Dalrymple
Aug 20, 2008 Douglas Dalrymple rated it it was amazing
I keep a portrait of Montaigne on my wall next to Shakespeare, Cervantes, Dostoyevsky and Melville. If there's any complaint in that arrangement it's that the latter four were concerned with explicitly creative forms, drama and the novel. Montaigne was more a philosopher. And yet he becomes in his essays a fully realized character in his own right. As one might say of Robert Burton and his 'Anatomy' - the book has become the man, and the man the book.
Lynn
Nov 21, 2015 Lynn rated it it was amazing
I have only read two of Michel de Montaigne’s essays so far and I am already interested in what more he has to say. The way he writes and his way of thinking is so creative and is what hooked me from the beginning.
Although I only did my class project on one of the essays called “Of Cannibals” I went ahead and read the next one as well. My classmates and I decided to do Of Cannibals because it was so interesting that we also wanted to learn more about it and teach our other classmates about our f
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David
Mar 28, 2015 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I won't lie and say that this was a complete breeze to get through, but it is highly readable for essays written at the end of the 16th century. I don't know if that speaks to Montaigne or the translator more, but we'll at least partially assume Montaigne. His style and approach are certainly interesting. I just can only get so interested in a book of essays.
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  • The Essays
  • Maxims
  • Pensées
  • Gargantua and Pantagruel
  • Philosophical Dictionary
  • The Recognition of 'Sakuntala: A Play in Seven Acts
  • The Essential Epicurus
  • Praise of Folly
  • New Science
  • Dialogues and Essays
  • Essays and Aphorisms
  • The Way Things Are: The De Rerum Natura
  • The Life of Samuel Johnson
  • بوستان سعدی
  • Confessions
  • The Enneads
  • Epitome of Copernican Astronomy and Harmonies of the World
  • Essays and Lectures
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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