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The Complete Essays

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  10,082 Ratings  ·  323 Reviews
In his Essays Montaigne warns us from the outset that he has set himself 'no goal but a domestic and private one' yet he is one author whose modernity and universality have been acclaimed by each age since he wrote. Probing into his emotions, attitudes, and behavior, Montaigne reveals to us much about ourselves.
Kindle Edition
Published by Penguin Classics (first published 1572)
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Sep 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
"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 myself; 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 kind 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 ti
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
Roy 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. Mo
Apr 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 17, 2017 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Montaigne writing in his library, a blogger in his private Internet...
Aug 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“El hombre es un objeto extraordinariamente vano, diverso y fluctuante”.

Es una lástima que una vez concluido un libro sólo queden restos de él en la memoria y esto sólo por un muy corto tiempo, para luego desaparecer casi por completo, permaneciendo sólo un lejano y tal vez distorsionado recuerdo de su contenido, casi como si el libro nunca hubiese pasado por nuestros ojos. Lo digo porque estoy seguro que casi todas las ideas vertidas en esta obra por el célebre pensador y escritor francés, Mic
A Montaigne essay a day keeps the doctor away.

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
David Sarkies
Jul 23, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Hayatla ilgili neredeyse aklımıza gelebilecek her şeyi yazmış Montaigne. Ve bunu o kadar samimi bir şekilde yapmış ki okurken sanki Montaigne karşımda ve bana öğüt veriyormuş gibi hissettim. Hatta bazı yerlerde "ee napmam gerek bu durumda?" diye düşünürken bir sonraki cümlede cevaplarımı buldum. Kesinlikle okunması gerektiğini düşündüğüm ve benim de tekrardan okuyacağım güzel mi güzel eserlerden biri.
Jim Coughenour
Aug 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy, ethics
A very colourful collection of thoughts/essays, written in a time it was not usual to expose oneself. I admire Montaigne's honesty and straightforwardness. He observes daily live and especially his own behavior. The extensive use of latin citations (as was common use by humanists of that time) was irritating at first, but I got used to it. From a historical point of view his longer essay "Apology for Raymond Sebond" was very interesting; in it Montaigne pointedly acknowledges the limitations of ...more
Jul 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Inventer--and perfecter--of the "trial composition," essayer. None better, after four centuries, though we have improved lying through essays. We call it "news": global warming? What global warming. NSA Spying? What spying--all legal.
Oct 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
“Montaigne was persuaded that everything had already been thought and said, and was anxious to show that man is always and everywhere one and the same.” - Introduction to the Essays by Andre Gide (From The Heritage Press, 3 Volume Edition, 1946)

(N.B. I have inserted a lot of quotes from Montaigne because he is the most qualified to talk about Montaigne, and he is speaking much more adeptly than what I could ever hope to say; they also give you a flavour of the Essays)

Dan Maude
Jun 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Montaigne has been an excellent companion during my yard work and gardening chores this spring. The Audible book is based on the Frame translation - some people complain about it because Frame does not use Montaigne's original quotations (just the English translation) while Screech provides the original quotation, plus the English translation. For listening, Frame is great, and both editions are pretty similar to me, as I know no French, Greek, and just a few altar boy Latin words. (The Screech ...more
Rosa Ramôa
Jun 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"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
May 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Yıllar öncesinde yazılan bir şey bugün hala nasıl geçerliliğini koruyabiliyor? Hayran kalıyorum böyle kitaplara. Kendinize iyilik yapmak istiyorsanız Denemler'i kesinlikle okuyun. Bu eseri yılda bir kere okumaya karar verdim. Her yıl kendi kişiliğimi, davranış ve düşüncelerimi toparlamam için bana çok iyi yol gösterici olacak. Eminim. Okuyun.

* Bilgisizliği kavramak, bilimi kavramak için gerektiği kadar bilgi ister.

* Bir amaca bağlanmayan ruh, yolunu kaybeder. Çünkü her yerde olmak, hiçbir yerde
May 29, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 24, 2015 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kobo
1) Geen boek wat je "even" leest. De eerste en nog steeds de rijkste, persoonlijkste en beroemdste essaybundel van de wereldliteratuur. 1480 pagina's, en gelukkig als e-book. Ik ben er nu bijna een half jaar in bezig, af en toe een essay, en nu tot 38% gevorderd. Met een beetje geluk krijg ik het in 2016 uitgelezen.
Vaak boeiend, soms wat stoffig (maar mag het met een boek uit 1580?) maar ook opvallend vaak nog actueel. Mijn e-book staat vol met geselecteerde uitspraken en aantekeningen. Wat een
Jun 13, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
This is a book I am always reading and have been for years. I rarely read more than an essay at any given time, but what riches Montaigne offers. I'm currently rereading as I read Sarah Bakewell's How to Live: A Life of Montaigne.
Dec 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reading this essay collection has been "a domestic and a private" goal....Montaigne is the originator of the modern essay; he is as foundational to nonfiction as Shakespeare is to drama.
Prooost Davis
Jan 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Montaigne was a 16th century French aristocrat whose father raised him speaking Latin as his native language so that he wouldn't struggle learning it like the other boys. With this book he invented essays and they are some good reading. Each essay tackles a random topic, but he often strays off subject into fun tangents. He stated that all he knows is himself so that is what he wrote about. But really he knew a whole lot about a whole lot. He writes about honor, love, horseback riding, kidney st ...more
Douglas Dalrymple
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.
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  • The Essays
  • Maxims
  • Pensées
  • Gargantua and Pantagruel
  • Philosophical Dictionary
  • The Recognition of Śakuntalā
  • 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
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...
“On the highest throne in the world, we still sit only on our own bottom.” 1675 likes
“The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself.” 1193 likes
More quotes…