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Selections from the Essays of Montaigne (Crofts Classics)

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  1,674 ratings  ·  83 reviews
These essays from the 16th-century writer Michel de Montaigne reveal the distinctive voice of Montaigne, a tolerant man, skeptical, humane, often humorous, yet utterly honest in his pursuit of truth.
Paperback, 136 pages
Published June 1st 2011 by Harlan Davidson (first published 1592)
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May 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
So now, on this journey of self-education, we arrive at Montaigne, the instrospective French essayist who was both devout papist and syphilitic whore-master. This is exactly the type of internal conflict that I like in a philosopher and avoid in, say, a husband or a physician or what have you.

Of all the reading I've done in the past two years, Montaigne has taken up the most space in my copybook. I wrote down things he said that supported my biases and I wrote down things that challenged them.
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 ...more
Aug 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Alan Hoyle
Aug 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is an absolute perfection and virtually divine to know how to enjoy our being lawfully. We seek other conditions because we do not understand the use of our own, and go outside of ourselves because we do not know what it is like inside. Yet there is no use our mounting on stilts, for on stilts we must still walk on our legs. And on the loftiest throne in the world we are still sitting only on our own rear.

“It seemed to me as if I had written the book in some former life, so sincerely it spoke
In this collection of essays, Montaigne established the essay form in the modern way that we still recognize today. From this collection I would like to focus on one of the most famous essays; namely, "To philosophize is to learn how to die". Montaigne begins by referencing Cicero (who himself was paraphrasing Socrates as he was presented by Plato in his dialogue, Phaedo). He quickly concludes that the purpose of philosophy "is to teach not to be afraid of dying." (p 17) This, however, he ...more
David Sarkies
Jul 22, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like philosophy
Recommended to David by: It was in the Bible college library
Shelves: philosophy
A collection of humanist essays
19 September 2010

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 it. The version that I read was only a collection of his essays, 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 a bit at a time).

Montaigne was a French noble living about the time of Shakespeare (actually a little before) and these essays are more a
Mar 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 07, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The hardest part of this book is knowing that you'll never be able to have Montaigne for a friend.

There is such a huge variety of insight, interesting digressions, humour that a little goodreads review cant really do it justice. There is an eclectic nature to this book which makes it somewhat difficult to read quickly but makes it a truly fantastic book to keep at your bedside and chip away at over time.
Jan 12, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Lynn Weber
Jun 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: renaissance
Surely one of the greatest books of Western civilization. The length was daunting at first, but soon I could not wait to get back to it every evening. Equal parts philosophy and psychology, it marks a clear departure from medieval thinking in its moderation, love for the physical world (including the body), personal nature, and free speculation. Plus it includes, in the deceptively titled “On Some Lines of Virgil,” a lengthy consideration of penis size.
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

Jan 10, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  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
Richard Newton
A great rambling journey of introspection, but like the best of introspective writing the lessons, ideas and topics Montaigne travels through have universal appeal. Here is a man who in one section can read like a modern liberal, and in another very much a man of his time. It is my second reading of this translation, and as so many times with translations I regret my feeble language skills and wonder how much better it might have been in French. A worthy book to dip into time and again.
Oct 08, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Despite some unevenness in the content and readability of these essays, it is a privilege to live inside Montaigne's mind for a time. He was deeply schooled in the classics and manages to weave an impressive number of quotations and references to antiquity around practically every observation. But his style is folksy and humorous enough for a casual reader to be entertained, so the essays aren't too dry or heavy.
Feb 19, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I only read 3 1/2 essays from this but I really enjoyed all three. They were hard to follow at times but very thought provoking.

"On Educating Children"
"On Coaches"
"On Cannibals"
"On Experience" (1/2 of this essay)
Jul 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"To learn that we have said or done a foolish thing, that is nothing; we must learn that we are nothing but fools, a far broader and more important lesson."
Jun 16, 2016 rated it did not like it
I fell asleep while writing this review. So boring...

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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
Nov 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Montaigne speaks across 430 plus years with a voice as fresh and genuine as anyone writing today. In some ways he is a man very much of his time, but he is often startlingly modern, straight talking and honest in his appraisal of the world and himself. I felt an affinity with this fellow, actually a little younger than me. We shared many opinions and experiences, even though we also differed in significant ways as well. I leave him with an appreciation of his humour, his idiosyncratic worldview, ...more
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
Oct 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-read-books
Imagining the frequented surprises of reading Montaigne: one hears one's own thoughts echoed back, crystalized and reshaped in finer polish and warmer humor, from the alien well of a French nobleman several hundred years ago.

Resisting the wild temptation to quote Montaigne, I am moved more by the human intelligence and warmth, unaffected charm and occasional gamboling humor in his rumination on topics large or small, from children's education to being idle. It is not a philosophic text with
Tom Schulte
Jul 27, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  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
G.M. Burrow
Sep 02, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
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 ...more
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
Robert Browning
Jul 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Yohannes Simeneh
a truly marvelous read. Montaigne deserves to be called the father of modern blogging. the problem with most authors is that fact that they don't really acknowledge the little trivial things in our day to day( which actually are the essence of life in its deepest sense)lives and how they would add up to sort of present deep philosophical challenges in our lives. in this regard Montaigne has succeeded in captivating his readers and casting new dimensions on our views of life and its ...more
Aug 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This one is a sui generis. Michel de Montaigne has an enigmatic simplicity to him, often witty and sharp but sometimes embarrassingly contradictory. He's well-educated on certain subjects but a complete ignoramus on others. At times he'll lead you to believe that he's a hard-line conservative but will drop outrageously liberal ideas (for his time) here and there. On one end he'll talk about the most profound and fascinating of topics, and then out of nowhere will digress towards the absolutely ...more
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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 widely ...more
“The most fruitful and natural exercise for our minds is, in my opinion, conversation.” 105 likes
“We trouble our life by thoughts about death, and our death by thoughts about life.” 53 likes
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