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The Complete Works of Michael de Montaigne; Comprising the Essays

4.54 of 5 stars 4.54  ·  rating details  ·  387 ratings  ·  32 reviews
Humanist, skeptic, acute observer of himself and others, Michel de Montaigne (1533—92) was the first to use the term “essay” to refer to the form he pioneered, and he has remained one of its most famous practitioners. He reflected on the great themes of existence in his wise and engaging writings, his subjects ranging from proper conversation and good reading, to the raisi...more
Paperback, 774 pages
Published August 30th 2010 by Nabu Press (first published 1592)
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Rowan
Aug 08, 2007 Rowan rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anybody with pretensions to being educated.
If you haven't read (at least some of ) this, I'm afraid you are a bit of an ignoramus. Montaigne invented the word and the form we know as an 'essay' and his philosophical writings are about everything: kidney stones, religion, reality, melons, knowledge, death, shapely calves. He will shock those of you who are obsessed with the modern world with the piquancy of his observations. Read it!
Robert Farwell
For me the greatest approbation for a book I've just read is a simple declaration that this is a book I'll read again, and perhaps one that I'll read regularly. This is a desert island work for sure. It (for me) fits into the same mental shelf space as Aurelius Marcus' Meditations or Herodotus' The Histories or Adams' The Education of Henry Adams. Some pieces of nonfiction should probably be considered a type of humanist sacred-text. One more book I've got to grab if the house is on fire. One mo...more
Brian
Highly referential, but thrillingly timeless. Meandering thoughts on human nature at large. Where you might begin to fear his digressions will leave you lost, there is suddenly stunning insight, and refreshing, even evocative summation. Perhaps it is an attempt to enumerate some grand philosophy on human behavior, yet it weaves historical and personal anecdotes of tragedy and comedy, providing a kind of in depth exploration of the human psyche, but for the layman. Funny, sincere, and palatable f...more
Peter
This book is permanently next to my bed. I consider Montaigne as my most important mentor and soulmate. So much to learn from this philosopher with a love and empathy for all life, an understanding in the psyche of politics and business and a sense of humour that puts everything in perspective and makens him even more sympathetic. Wonderful man. No wonder Shakespeare admired him...
Richard Freeman
Montaigne is the model of that ingredient built into all of us that could be called honesty and integrity. He has few fixed dogmas or preoccupations (although he does believe in the value of prayer and the presence of a diety). His view of humankind is a picture of an inconsistent and delightful species and is as interesting and compelling drunk or sober (see his essay "On Drunkeness"). All that one should read and learnn is in these pages and if it isn't then follow Montaigne's advice and read...more
Levi
always a pleasure to dip into this one.
the man is a treasure trove of insight, incident and literary/historical anecdote.
love love
love
this book... but i'm in no rush to 'finish' it.
Joe Hunt
This is one of those people

we should be ashamed, if we haven't read _at least the tiniest bit of_ him.


The Father of the Essay, right?

I teach college composition, and always make it a point to have the children read:

a. On Laziness.

http://essays.quotidiana.org/montaign...

b. Of a Monstrous Child

http://essays.quotidiana.org/montaign...

(p.s. I guess the keeper of that website, quotidiana, is slightly famous--

teaches at BYU.)



Anyhow...I first picked up the book in LA, circa 2001.

I was working at Goodwi...more
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Apr 28, 2010 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Lisa (Harmonybites) by: Good Reading: 100 Significant Books
Montaigne is known as the father of the essay for good reason--he coined the very word for them. An essai is french for attempt--which gives you a sense of Montaigne's style and intent. They're very conversational, as if he's thinking out loud. A little rambling, yes, in the way the conversation with a friend can be, jumping from subject to subject. Some reviewers complained he's vain--well, he is a bit of a know-it-all, including a great deal of quotes from classical sources: Homer, Aesop, Euri...more
Bruce
This volume contains not only Montaigne’s essays, the only writings that he intended for publication, but also his travel writings and letters, these last being of lesser importance than the essays themselves and taking up but a small portion of the entire volume. The essays are of most interest, and I shall devote my brief remarks to them alone.

Montaigne lived during the last half of the sixteen century in Bordeaux and the Dordogne valley of southwestern France. A landowner and sometime governm...more
Jim
A series of contemplations on various aspects of life. It is dated (duh!) by a low regard for women and applying the technology of the day to philosphical problems. The essays are strongest in their discussions of the merits of ancient roman and Greek writers -- Seneca, Plutarch, livy, Caesar, Socrates, Tacitus. He recommends Tacitus, Seneca and Caesar.

The reason Montaigne is still read today is due to his witticisms and observatiuons about life. "... nothing annoys me so much in the stupid as...more
Thomas Moore
I can't say enough good about this man. He is just about the wisest and most humble guy I've had the pleasure to meet. He ranks with Shakespeare and Cervantes as one of the Gods. A book to read anytime, anywhere, just pick a subject and see what he has to say. It can make you a better person.
William
These essays are entertaining as well as interesting and profound. I recommend just starting with one, and if you don't like that one, jump to another. Here is a man who said, "All man's difficulties stem from an inability to be alone."
Hadrian J.
One never reads this book as much as pick it up from time to time to reflect on any of the amazing essays. I started highlighting any interest abstract but ended up with a book full of notes! Ever a faithful companion.
Michael
"I may contradict myself, but truth I never contradict." Montaigne's attempts (essais) show us how to navigate a world of multiplicity, difference, and becoming. A beautiful, mellow read.
Gert de Cooman
I've read these works a number of times, both in Dutch and in French. They have taught me humility, and that there is a lot to love about life. Being able to read these, for one thing.
James
The Frame translations. Simply the best -- one of the great 20th century translations from French into English.
Deborah
worth it just for the titles of the essays. i expect i'll be reading this book for the next decade or so.
Alan Hoyle
Montaigne is essential reading, and this is a beautifully produced volume that with last a lifetime's use. The only reason I have not given it five stars is that I think the translation by Screech is more faithful - some people do prefer this translation, so, if you can, have a look at a bit of each and decide which suits your taste - - - but get one of them, and read it!
Zach
Montaigne, in his Essays, tends more towards engaging than profound, but his early skeptical humanism and revealing self portrait is a very worthy read. His classical scholarship is quite impressive, although his veneration of the Romans and Greeks does occasionally get out of hand. In many ways, his ideas are of his time as well as ahead of it, but that makes him all the more human and interesting.

The major takeaway from his travel journal that I got was that I am very glad that kidney stones a...more
Nick
I'm slowly working my way through Montaigne's complete works. A reference in another book inspired me to go back to this author, whom I hadn't read since college. His essays are alternating fascinating (when it's a topic that still has resonance today) and tedious (when it's something that we no longer think much about). For its time (the 1500s), the work is extraordinary, because it's personal, 'modern' in tone, and relatively broad-minded. The piece on spending seemed timely, given our financi...more
Benjamin
I never fail to find pleasure returning to Montaigne; this is a brilliant translation!
Michael Clement
I first read this three years ago and was bowled over, finally a philosopher for Everyman. What a treat! His writings are so good that I am reading them again and am enjoying them as much, if not more, as the first time. I can foresee myself reading them again in another few years. This definitely a book for your collection.
Dallin Bruun
Highly quotable guy, but I'm slightly disappointed. I was excited to get this for Christmas. I read his two most celebrated essays, and I thought, "Gee, this guy really loves the classics. So do I."

I say that knowing I'm the stupid one, the same way you think people are stupid who criticize Shakespeare. It's like a thousand pages, so I think I'll never read the entire thing, but I'm sure one lazy Sunday I'll read one of his essays and everything will suddenly click.

Let's just mark this review as...more
Missy
OK, so I haven't read this in its entirety, but I recently pulled if off the shelf after misplacing The Two-Income trap for well over a week (just found it today - thanks movers, who shoved it into a random box). I first read a number of essays from this book my sophomore year in college, in Professor Ray's fantastic Hum 210 class. Thumbing through it over the past week made me want to sit down and dedicate some time to the essays vs. skim them.
Lorinda
I enjoyed all 1,045 pages of the Complete Essays but I think they got better towards the end. I admire his amiable writing style and his profound tolerance. I wish it were easier to mark and find passages for return reading since the titles of chapters are not too helpful. The translation is clear and maintains a gentle flow throughout the essays.
Jeremy Egerer
I've never read any essays quite like Montaigne's. Everything from friendship to education to philosophy is covered, in the most thoughtful, educated, and eloquent way possible -- a picture of a great man's soul, worth reading and worth sharing. I wish there were more stars... and I'm not even done with the Essays yet.
Taylor
Michel de Montaigne is the greatest essayist of all time. There's hard to find flaws in his writing, if there even are any to begin with.
Shirley
a series of beguiling, reflective, strikingly sincere reflections. phenom
Brian
Feb 12, 2012 Brian marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Recommended by Rob Farwell
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  • Essays (Everyman's Library Classics)
  • The Plague, the Fall, Exile and the Kingdom, and Selected Essays
  • The Major Works
  • Letters on England
  • Operette Morali: Essays and Dialogues
  • The Stoic Philosophy of Seneca: Essays and Letters
  • Monadology
  • On Duties (Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought)
  • The Essays
  • The Nude: A Study in Ideal Form
  • The Theory of Communicative Action, Vol 2: Lifeworld & System: A Critique of Functionalist Reason
  • Principles of Human Knowledge & Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonius
  • The Discourses
  • On Grief and Reason: Essays
  • The Annals/The Histories
  • Walter Benjamin: Selected Writings, Volume 1, 1913-1926
  • Cultural Amnesia: Necessary Memories from History and the Arts
  • How to Live: A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at An Answer
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
More about Michel de Montaigne...
The Complete Essays The Essays: A Selection On Friendship On Solitude (Penguin Great Ideas) Сонгомол эсээнүүд

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“Democritus and Heraclitus were two philosophers, of whom the first, finding the condition of man vain and ridiculous, never went out in public but with a mocking and laughing face; whereas Heraclitus, having pity and compassion on this same condition of ours, wore a face perpetually sad, and eyes filled with tears.

I prefer the first humor; not because it is pleasanter to laugh than to weep, but because it is more disdainful, and condemns us more than the other; and it seems to me that we can never be despised as much as we deserve. Pity and commiseration are mingled with some esteem for the thing we pity; the things we laugh at we consider worthless. I do not think there is as much unhappiness in us as vanity, nor as much malice as stupidity. We are not so full of evil as of inanity; we are not as wretched as we are worthless.

Thus Diogenes, who pottered about by himself, rolling his tub and turning up his nose at the great Alexander, considering us as flies or bags of wind, was really a sharper and more stinging judge, to my taste, than Timon, who was surnamed the hater of men. For what we hate we take seriously. Timon wished us ill, passionately desired our ruin, shunned association with us as dangerous, as with wicked men depraved by nature. Diogenes esteemed us so little that contact with us could neither disturb him nor affect him, and avoided our company, not through fear of association with us, but through disdain of it; he considered us incapable of doing either good or evil....

Our own peculiar condition is that we are as fit to be laughed at as able to laugh.”
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“Let the tutor make his charge pass everything through a sieve and lodge nothing in his head on mere authority and trust: let not Aristotle's principles be principles to him any more than those of the Stoics or Epicureans. Let this variety of ideas be set before him; he will choose if he can; if not, he will remain in doubt. Only the fools are certain and assured. For if he embraces Xenophon's and Plato's opinions by his own reasoning, they will no longer be theirs, they will be his. He who follows another follows nothing. He finds nothing; indeed he seeks nothing. We are not under a king; let each one claim his own freedom. Let him know that he knows, at least. He must imbibe their ways of thinking, not learn their precepts. And let him boldly forget, if he wants, where he got them, but let him know how to make them his own. Truth and reason are common to everyone, and no more belong to the man who first spoke them than to the man who says them later. It is no more according to Plato than according to me, since he and I understand and see it the same way. The bees plunder the flowers here and there, but afterward they make of them honey, which is all theirs; it is no longer thyme or marjoram. Even so with the pieces borrowed from others; he will transform and blend them to make a work of his own, to wit, his judgment. His education, work, and study aim only at forming this.” 11 likes
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