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3.99  ·  Rating details ·  1,381 ratings  ·  151 reviews
Auteur de nombreuses biographies (Fouché, Balzac, Marie­-Antoinette, Magellan,... ), Stefan Zweig dresse avec psychologie le portrait d'un homme libre et tolérant. Alors qu'il fuit la guerre dans le lointain Brésil, Stefan Zweig cherche dans l'œuvre de Montaigne à soulager son désespoir, mais aussi dans l'expérience vécue d'un homme qui se trouva dans une situation proche ...more
128 pages
Published (first published 1942)
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Thinking the Unthinkable

Emotionally and politically, if not yet militarily, the presidency of Donald Trump has had the same impact on the world as the election of Adolf Hitler in 1933 or the assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand in 1914. It is a shocking, incomprehensible fact which becomes more shocking and incomprehensible every day. Trump establishes a demarcation between one world and another. I don’t feel it an exaggeration to echo Zweig’s feeling for Montaigne’s situation of “precisely a
Lee Klein
Oct 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Zweig is the best. Secular humanism uber alles! Great to return to him after a year or so away and think the same general thought: I need to read everything he's written, particularly these short biographies. This is a step in that direction. It's really a pretty slight but insightful/enjoyable rundown of Montaigne's life, paralleled by Zweig's own. Zweig wrote this in Brazil shortly before he killed himself with his second wife, exiled from the irretrievably ruined European culture he thrived i ...more
Dec 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in biography, Zweig, philosophy
Thank you to Pushkin Collection for re-publishing Stefan Zweig's biography of Montaigne. Zweig's personal, somewhat casual, yet highly informed style of writing for biography totally engaged me in Montaigne's life and also led me to a renewed wish to read the Essays sooner rather than later. In this current age of vile and petty discourse, I enjoyed the call to searching for "knowing the self." Very little of this is in evidence in the public forum today leaving Montaigne's wish for solitude so ...more

Autumn Rhythm, by Jackson Pollak

Denn es gehört zu den geheimnisvollen Gesetzen des Lebens, daß wir seiner wahren und wesentlichen Werte immer erst zu spät gewahr werden: der Jugend, wenn sie entschwindet, der Gesundheit, sobald sie uns verläßt, und der Freiheit, dieser kostbarsten Essenz unserer Seele, erst im Augenblick, da sie uns genommen werden soll oder schon genommen worden ist.()

Though Stefan Zweig (1881-1942) and his first wife, Friderike, escaped the Nazis by fleeing to England in
Paul Sánchez Keighley
In this biography, we see Zweig projecting his worries onto Montaigne, drawing parallels between Europe’s descent into insanity in the mid-20th century and the wars of religion that shook Europe in Montaigne’s day and age. Montaigne doubted and second-guessed every thought that went through his head, but one of the few maxims he ever penned was: 'The most important thing in the world is to know how to be oneself.' And in those times of mass fanaticism, Zweig sought consolation in Montaigne’s wor ...more
Jan 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Can you imagine a better biographer than Stefan Zweig?

And is there a more interesting subject, in this genre, than Michel de Montaigne?

The best biography I have read on one of literature’s most interesting yet obscure figures.

Montaigne, from a philosophical viewpoint, is one of the most relatable and organic thinkers I have been introduced to through the medium of words.

He, Montaigne, lived during the 1500's.

Great. Worthy of seven point five stars.
In his Essays Montaigne sought, as he says on more than one occasion, to present nothing more or less than himself. He is the book; the book is Montaigne. And yet the Essays is a sort of mirror in which every reader finds his own image reflected. Perhaps it says something about the essential likeness of people that such varied readers can find in a book written by a leisured aristocrat in a stone tower 500 years ago a record of their own private self.

Stefan Zweig’s biography illustrates the poin
Dec 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’ve read around Montaigne and now have tackled a bit of his writing with the delicate and sensitive help of Zweig. This book is a fine meditation on a freethinker’s life— especially for our chaotic days.
“He who thinks freely for himself, honors all freedom on earth.”
and conversely, “Que sais-je?”
A gorgeous and evocative mini biography. Absolutely loved it!
I received an ARC from Pushkin Press through Edelweiss.

Stefan Zweig was forced to flee his home in Austria as the Nazis were taking control of his motherland. For years he wandered around Europe as a nomad with no real place to call home. As Europe is ravaged by war, he finds his way to the German community of Petropolis in Brazil and in 1941 he decides to write this brief biography of Michel de Montaigne with whose life he identifies on many levels.

Montaigne comes from a long line of hardworkin
Aug 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
I have to admit being a little biased with this book as Montaigne is my all time third favourite philosopher behind Socrates and Neechy. I liked this little book by Zweig and decided to read it having finished Chess Story not that long ago. The book is a very short book about the life of Michel De Montaigne. If you don’t know who Montaigne is then kindly defriend me (just kidding). He was basically a rich aristocratic dude born around the 15oos in France. I didn’t realise this but he was half Je ...more
James Smith
Dec 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
A marvelous little study in which Zweig clearly casts Montaigne as a proto-Zweig. Also confirms that Montaigne, anticipating Rousseau, is the antithesis of Augustine--and yet also so close.
Sep 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely outstanding. I challenge you not to love it. Profound, informal and erudite. Great writing.
Simon Howard
Aug 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A little while ago, a friend told me to read Stefan Zweig and to start with his biography of Montaigne. This seemed like such a weirdly esoteric recommendation that it's sat on my "to read" list for ages. But it is wonderful!

This is a beautifully written and very short biography of a man who lived an astounding life at a pivotal moment in history. Zweig's prose - almost every line of which feels quotable - seems to capture the vital essence of someone who lived hundreds of years before him. Mont
Jan 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"In Europe's collective cultural achievement, its historic cornerstones laid by the genius of select individuals, Zweig saw the European ideal he treasured above all else." (18-9)

"Always, whatever his [Montaigne's] mode of living, he kept for himself alone the most authentic and subtle element of his being. He left the rest to prattle on, to move with the herd, to get borne aloft, to preach and parade; he left the world to follow its chaotic crazed paths and only concerned himself with one ting:
Nov 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
An excellent book. I have read and enjoyed others books by Stefan Zweig. I really enjoyed Nietzsche. He has a tendency to choose difficult, humanistic and spiritual striving people to write about. Monataigne was a person, despite living over four hundred years ago, at a time of great difficulty following a time of great conflict and war, who embodied an evolutionary way. His writing reflects Montaigne’s attempt to understand and live in a way that was authentic in its being and that involved an ...more
Jul 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
I love Stefan Zweig's writing. Just a couple of days ago, I read another biography of Montaigne, so it didn't take much for me download this short biography. What's interesting about this book is that Zweig wrote this near the end of his life, living in exile. He came across a copy of Montaigne's Essays.
It has certainly encouraged me to keep reading Montaigne.
Jeremy Egerer
Nov 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Toot toot! It's Montaigne, the bald man who was woken up with flute all his childhood. What did he do? Whatever he wanted. What did he want? To not do what everybody else wanted. How did this end? With him becoming one of the greatest and most inspiring thinkers of all time. Would he approve of this review? Absolutely not. ...more
Sep 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
My 'go to' book on Montaigne when I need solace. Handy small size for pockets/bags. ...more
Jun 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In "Three Guineas," Virginia Woolf asks what can we do to prevent war. She comes up with a series of practical answers to the question in a flourish of rhetoric and rhetorical analysis.

Writing at roughly the same time as Woolf and reacting to the same plague of tyranny and fascism that has beset Europe, Stefan Zweig takes a different tack. In his slender volume on Montaigne, Zweig asks:

"In such epochs where the highest values of life – our peace, our independence, our basic rights, all that ma
Apr 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really like Montaigne, or I should say, books about Montaigne. The biographer makes some interesting comments about how you need to have sufficient life experience for this to be relevant. I think that's true for all books- they speak to a particular audience. I happen to be about Montaigne's age, also with kids, and jobs etc. It's a big pool of people, I know. But this book would've been terrible just 5 years ago for me.

My highlights:
He committed suicide after working this biography- it was a
Vera Spinola
Mar 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
I've enjoyed reading this book. Althoug Montaigne was a gifted mind, the author doesn't make him a hero with no flaws. Montaigne was extremely egocentric and selfish in many ways. He used to isolate himself in his tower to find out who he was, to listen to his inner voice and write. He didn't care much for his wife or children. He came from a wealthy and aristocratic family. He had solid principles of dignity and kept an independent way of thinking and living. Although he occupied high public po ...more
Mary Karpel-Jergic
A wonderful little book packed with information about Montaigne, delivered with an easy, casual style of writing. Initially, I was a little disappointed because I was hoping for more direct quotes from Montaigne's essays, but once I started reading it, giving it my full attention, the book blossomed into a phenomenal encapsulation of Montaigne's life and his writings, written by Stefan Zweig, himself a man worthy of a biography. I do think that Montaigne's chronic illness played a part in his ou ...more
Aug 11, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like the way Zweig has to show and write about famous people as they were "normal" and I also like Montaigne, whom I didn't know so much about. I specially liked his idea of being as true to himself as he could, even if that made him, most of the time, a selfish man.

Mi piacciono molto le descrizioni di Zweig delle persone famose, della sua capacitá di renderle in qualche modo "normali", inoltre non conoscevo Montaigne se non in generale, e questo libro mi ha portato ad apprezzare la sua idea d
Sharon Lee
Oct 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
As a biography this is an excellent slim volume and leads me to think I should hunt down more of Zweig. The writing is elegant and earnest.
The introduction was so heavy handed and academic it almost put me off reading the book.
I have most Likely broken some logic by reading this without having first read Montaigne’s essays. But if this nutshell of a biography is accurate then I doubt very much that I would be interested in Monsieur Montaigne’s thoughts as he strikes me as a self indulgent, spoi
Mar 07, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Zweig paints an interesting picture of Montaigne. He is a man of the world, unprejudiced, who seeks the self in all of life's experiences. Books and travel passionate him; they are the pillars of learning. Zweig's affinity for Montaigne's character is inevitable. He himself was in exile in Brazil from a Europe at war and was trying to overcome human violence and brutality through the finding of the self and the meaning of life to some extent. ...more
Sep 02, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Towards the end of his life Stefan Zweig discovered Montaigne and this biographical essay expresses what the writer came to mean to him. A personal and emotional response, the book gives an insightful and perceptive introduction to Montaigne’s writings, and is also a welcome addition to Zweig’s own writings. Another gem from Pushkin Press.
Luna  Saint Claire
May 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
Read this for research -- It was very interesting, and extremely helpful. The philosophy and passion of his thinking is insightful and thought provoking. I recommend this short, gem of a book. I must now pick up Sarah Bakewell book "How to Live" about the life of Montaigne. to be continued... ...more
Aug 20, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not a bad read, but a lot of fluff that would probably have been left out had Zweig lived to edit it.
Chiefdonkey Bradey
Vile apparatchiks could not silence this wonderful voice
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Stefan Zweig was one of the world's most famous writers during the 1920s and 1930s, especially in the U.S., South America, and Europe. He produced novels, plays, biographies, and journalist pieces. Among his most famous works are Beware of Pity, Letter from an Unknown Woman, and Mary, Queen of Scotland and the Isles. He and his second wife committed suicide in 1942.

Zweig studied in Austria, France

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