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On Friendship

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  856 ratings  ·  74 reviews
Throughout history, some books have changed the world. They have transformed the way we see ourselves - and each other. They have inspired debate, dissent, war and revolution. They have enlightened, outraged, provoked and comforted. They have enriched lives - and destroyed them. Now Penguin brings you the works of the great thinkers, pioneers, radicals and visionaries whos ...more
Paperback, 115 pages
Published September 2nd 2004 by Penguin (first published 1580)
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Peter Weissman
May 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who likes discursive essays
If he had a more manageable name, there should be an equivalent to "Shakespearean" for Michel de Montaigne, and the label to refer to essayists of his level. As with Shakespearean, you have to pay attention lest the dense, meaningful sentences fly past. And frankly, there are times, and moods, when he's too dense for me to appreciate, or I'm too dense and have to put him aside.

Like another wonderful essayist, William Hazlitt, Montaigne often takes a circuitous path, following the associations of
I couldn't help saying "What a misogynist!" out loud while I was reading this book. I seriously didn't know Montaigne had such stone-age views on women.
Sure, there were some great observations and concepts most of which were really spot on, but I couldn't really enjoy them because of all the lady-hating bits. It was as if he couldn't control himself at every 2nd or 3rd page and blurted out offensive nuggets of some so-called wisdom.
I know I know, "At that time, these were the common ideas of eve
Apr 25, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
This little volume contains On Friendship and five or six other essays by de Montaigne. The initial paragraph drew me in.
I was watching an artist on my staff working on a painting when I felt a desire to emulate him. The finest place in the middle of the wall he selects for a picture to be executed to the best of his ability; then he fills up the empty spaces all round it with grotesques, which are fantastical paintings whose attractiveness consists merely in variety and novelty. And in truth wh
Jul 19, 2008 rated it did not like it
These essays show a shallow, self-absorbed aristocrat with time on his hands to remark upon things in which he has no great insight or understanding. Unpleasant and uninstructive reading.
Sep 25, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: essays
I bought this paperback last year at a Kinokuniya's Sales Promotion in Bangkok, I guessed no one paid any attention to it or few readers read Montaigne nowadays. This Penguin book's in the Great Ideas series, thus, there're 7 essays selected from his "The Complete Essays" translated by M. A. Screech whose translation, I think, is more enjoyable to read than the Donald M. Frame's.

I'd like to call these essays as a series of the great books since the year, 1580, on its cover should denote somethin
Nazim B.
Aug 30, 2007 rated it liked it
The "Great Ideas" series from Penguin Books has become my 'before-bed' books. This book is one of them.
Charlotte Dann
Misogyny! But also contemporary, relatable wisdom. Video review. ...more
Liz Polding
Jul 20, 2014 rated it it was ok
Interesting, but the fairly relentless misogyny got up my nose rather and clouded my judgement. Of its time in that regard, I suppose and there were some enlightened moments, such as the unusual (for the time) stance against the corporal punishment of children.
Oct 03, 2020 rated it liked it
A brief treatise on the merits and attributes of a “true” friendship in which both parties are halves of one whole, as well as a tender ode to a late friend which has left Michel de Montaigne feeling more than ever like half a person, half a soul.

”If a man should importune me to give a reason why I loved him, I find it could no otherwise be expressed, than by making answer: because it was he, because it was I.”
Daniel Wright
If I'm honest, I wasn't prepared to like Montaigne before I started, and this little book did nothing to overturn my prejudice. He is so unspeakably smug he makes Richard Dawkins look like a wilting violet.
It's like taking a glimpse of the past through his thoughts and words albeit misogynistic in nature. Not a highly pleasurable read but I love his philosophy.
Aug 03, 2010 added it
Shelves: read-in-2011
It's fitting that the folks at Penguin chose the theme of friendship for their mini-collection of Montaigne essays (the fifth in their Great Ideas series), because at this point, after spending an academic year writing about the French essayist in a tight-knit group of collegiate buddies, and revisiting him with my blogging pals as part of my Essay Mondays project last year, I do indeed feel as if the man were an old friend of mine—warm and witty, occasionally exasperating but always a fascinati ...more
Jul 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: french-lit
I knew nothing of Michel de Montaigne other than his name. After reading this little gem, I can say I enjoyed his simple, down-to-earth philosophy. Although the title suggests a treatis on friendship (which is very well stated), there is also material on being a father and on moderation. Surprisingly, very little seems dated and one can live with what he suggest as good advice. He backs up his claims with endless Greek and Latin scholars (Plato to Seneca) and even mentions the recent, bloody end ...more
Greg Linster
Sep 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
"On Friendship" is one of my favorite essays written by Michel de Montaigne.
Oct 27, 2016 rated it it was ok
If you like your philosophy with a healthy dose of good old-fashioned 16th century sexism then this is the book for your
Rui Coelho
Dec 20, 2016 rated it liked it
I only liked the communist parts.
Maailah Blackwood
Aug 10, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: philosophy
Montaigne offers some insightful points of views on friendships, conversations and idleness... however, the misogyny ruins it at some points, making it hard to get through without rolling your eyes.
Feb 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This would absolutely be five stars if not for the occasional really repugnant misogyny.

What saved most of this for me, though, was actually one essay in particular from this mini-collection: "On the art of conversation." To me, it was more about persuasive conversations and specifically on leadership, but I can't really argue with Montaigne's titles for his own work. Some of my favorite quotes, some of which had me laughing out loud:

"There is in truth no greater silliness, none more enduring, t
Dec 05, 2009 rated it liked it
This book, like all the Penguin Great Ideas books, is almost tiny enough to fit in your pocket- a big plus. The whole thing wasn't about friendship- it was just a bunch of essays about a variety of day-to-day topics, mostly about how to live. It was a little stodgy and, this guy doesn't seem too fond of women, but it held my interest. I did love the way he wrote about friendship with such a romantic tone: "We were seeking each other before we set eyes on each other"- that's the way I feel about ...more
Matt Ryall
Jul 07, 2011 rated it liked it
De Montaigne weaves wise quotes from the ancients together with anecdotes from his time (late 16th century France) to advise us on how to view friendship, relationships between family members and the pursuit of learning. This book gives a huge number of launching points off into other literature through its hundreds of references.

I found the shorter essays at the end of this collection much more enjoyable than the first eponymous one, On Friendship. I'd suggest skipping ahead to some of those if
Jonathan Rose
Aug 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Another interesting read by an equally interesting author. Montaigne is considered one of the most brilliant essayists to have ever lived, and it's not difficult to see why, and while he was still plagued by the blatant sexism that was so prevalent during his era, his knowledge was nonetheless wonderful to read, for it was, as is often the case with "brilliant philosophy" remarkably simple in its logic, a simplicity that is sorely needed in contemporary society, but then again, the more things a ...more
Oct 29, 2016 rated it liked it
All that the reviewers said it was, it is. A set of philosophical essays on the nature of literary friendship relationships. It did have a section where he lit me up a bit - he wrote extremely well about how friendships can sometimes lead us astray, referencing the women in the movie Thelma and Louise - I had wished for more contemporary examples in the other sections. All in all, fine but not remarkable.
May 07, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I was so excited to read this book, then I read it and hated it. "Sexist pig" is the thought still running through my head. BUT! In trying to be objective--and forget the pointedly unkind thoughts on women as friends--I appreciated his thoughts. Who were all the women he met?! They all must have been horrible to make him form such an awful opinion of women as friends! Ugh!
Nia Nymue
Jul 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
Montaigne's tone was very amusing - he is so egocentric. Perhaps I was only amused because I read with this in mind. He has some interesting things to say - like the other books in the Great Ideas series, it's not meant to be read at one go - or at least, I think it shouldn't be read in that way. It ought to be read in small doses, for you to digest and critically analyse.
David Williamson
Sep 17, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not one of his most interesting essays, but due to my earlier rants on Plato's idea of friendship, love and desire, it was in fact totally necessary. Bad Plato! Naughty Plato!

Montaigne seems to have brought some sesne to the subject.
Jul 24, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2007
An interesting and diverse colection of essays. Beautiful edition and cover from Penguin.
Jul 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you read only one Montaigne essay I think this might be the one.
May 09, 2012 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: essays
I found the Screech translation superior to the Cohen translation in clearness and readability.
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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

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“What hits you affects you and wakes you up more then what pleases you.” 10 likes
“Friendship on the contrary is enjoyed in proportion to our desire: since it is a matter of the mind, with our souls being purified by practising it” 3 likes
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