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The Complete Works of Michael de Montaigne; Comprising the Essays

4.43  ·  Rating details ·  783 Ratings  ·  40 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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Darwin8u
Jan 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: aere-perennius, 2012
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
Rowan
Jul 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  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!
Sookie
Apr 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Montaigne is timeless. His essays are the very definition of timeless classics. Though he was more well known as a statesman than an author, his essays laced with personal anecdotes, quotes from Greek classics and offered an every man's perspective to those subjects that have been classically complicated. His subject of interests vary from education of children to smelly people; from solitude to problems with popularity. He isn't being ironic when he calls out noteworthy philosophers. Instead he ...more
Brian
Aug 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Andrew
I'd read many of the essays before, and found them to be remarkably iconoclastic and forward-thinking. Here was a guy, alone in his tower in the Périgord, who faced modern life straight on, and suggested that we shouldn't impose our own value system on other societies, that too many schools reward pedantry at the cost of independent thought, and that the highest value should be placed on skepticism, reflection, honesty, and empathy, while his neighbors were busy slaughtering each other for payin ...more
Peter
May 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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...
Bruce
Apr 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Joe Hunt
Oct 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Richard Freeman
Dec 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Apr 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Jim
Apr 12, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Harlen Bains
Apr 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can't really describe how much I enjoyed reading this book. Montaigne reads like a mentor giving you advice and insight on everything from sex, marriage, and aesthetics (great focus on the face and calves) to death, war, and kidney stones.

Though some of the essays weren't super interesting there were always nuggets of wisdom hidden throughout. This might be the best book I've read in more than a year.
Thomas Moore
Jan 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Hadrian J.
Dec 27, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
William
Mar 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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."
James
Feb 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Frame translations. Simply the best -- one of the great 20th century translations from French into English.
Gert de Cooman
Mar 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
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.
Deborah
Nov 19, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
worth it just for the titles of the essays. i expect i'll be reading this book for the next decade or so.
Chris Via
Nov 09, 2016 marked it as intermittently-reading  ·  review of another edition
How could I not love Montaigne? He lived the life I wish I could live: locked away in a far turret within the fortified walls of his family's château, Montaigne spent his later years basically cloistered in his library, reading and writing, and eventually spawning the form known as the essay. One looks at pictures of the famous tower and dreams.

Having only known Latin until the age of 6, Montaigne's influences are to be expected, especially in light of the historical era of the Renaissance: Virg
...more
Steven Pautz
Dec 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gift, physical, favorites
This massive tome of essays is one of the most interesting things I've ever read -- and probably the longest as well. It's interesting, varied, and fascinating, and although it has its awkward parts I'd rank it as literally life-changing.

The majority of this work is Montaigne's actual Essays: he published three books filled with writings on various topics and thoughts -- from philosophy to history to random musings to 16th century events -- in a new-at-the-time style: somewhere between stream-of
...more
Andrew Davis
A truly desert island book, considered by some to be the last one to be read in one’s life, made me think I still have a few more books to read before returning to it.
Quotes from Montaigne:
• This book is not an elementary manual for apprentices: it is the masters’ Koran, the quintessence of philosophy: a work not for tasting but for digesting and chilifying, the last book one should take up and the last one should put down.
• A soul anxious about the future is most vulnerable (Seneca)
• A man led
...more
Zach
Aug 21, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
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
Oct 22, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dallin Bruun
Dec 29, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 15, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Michael Clement
Mar 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
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.
Lorinda
Dec 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Alan Hoyle
Aug 25, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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!
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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 wide ...more
More about Michel de Montaigne...
“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.”
17 likes
“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.” 12 likes
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