The Essays: A Selection

The Essays: A Selection


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The Essays: A Selection by Michel de Montaigne

A survey of one of the giants of Renaissance thought, The Essays: A Selection collects some of Michel de Montaigne's most startling and original works, translated from the French and edited with an introduction and notes by M.A. Screech in Penguin Classics. To overcome a crisis of melancholy after the death of his father, Montaigne withdrew to his country estates and began to write, and in the highly original essays that resulted he discussed themes such as fathers and children, conscience and cowardice, coaches and cannibals, and, above all, himself. On Some Lines of Virgil opens out into a frank discussion of sexuality and makes a revolutionary case for the equality of the sexes. In On Experience he superbly propounds his thoughts on the right way to live, while other essays touch on issues of an age struggling with religious and intellectual strife, with France torn apart by civil war. These diverse subjects are united by Montaigne's distinctive voice - that of a tolerant man, sceptical, humane, often humorous and utterly honest in his pursuit of the truth. M.A. Screech's distinguished translation fully retains the light-hearted and inquiring nature of the essays. In his introduction, he examines Montaigne's life and times, and the remarkable self-portrait that emerges from his works. Michel de Montaigne (1533-1586) studied law and spent a number of years working as a counsellor before devoting his life to reading, writing and reflection. If you enjoyed The Essays: A Selection, you might like Francis Bacon's The Essays, also available in Penguin Classics.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780140446029
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/28/1994
Series: Penguin Classics Series
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 480
Sales rank: 313,242
Product dimensions: 5.11(w) x 7.80(h) x 0.85(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Born in 1533, Montaigne studied law and spent a number of years working as a counsellor before devoting his life to reading, writing and reflection. He died in 1586. Dr M.A. Screech is regarded as the world's greatest authority on Montaigne.

Table of Contents

Note on the Text
The Annotations
Note on the Translation
Explanation of the Symbols
Book I
1. We reach the same end by discrepant means
8. On idleness
16. On punishing cowardice
18. On fear
20. To philosophize is to learn how to die
26. On educating children
27. That it is madness to judge the true and false from our own capacities
31. On the Cannibals
32. Judgements on God's ordinances must be embarked upon with prudence
39. On solitude
56. On prayer
57. On the length of life
Book II
1. On the inconstancy of our actions
2. On drunkenness
5. On conscience
8. On the affection of fathers for their children
11. On cruelty
32. In defence of Seneca and Plutarch
35. On three good wives
37. On the resemblance of children to their fathers
Book III
2. On repenting
3. On three kinds of social intercourse
5. On some lines of Virgil
6. On coaches
11. On the lame
13. On experience

Summary of the Symbols

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The Essays: A Selection 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Starrfish More than 1 year ago
I love Montaigne's essays. They give you a wonderful taste of classically-inspired Renaissance thought, even as Montaigne ponders issues that are still highly relevant today. This selection limits the number of essays down to a more manageable length for the average reader, while still showing you the breadth and scope of Montaigne's writing. I haven't read this in the original French but the translation seems good to me, and Screech's writing style is appropriate for Montaigne's time period without being inaccessible or too difficult to understand. It really is a very intellectual book, but if you enjoy thinking about human nature, human society, and morality, or if you're interested in historical perspectives on the world then this would be a great book for you, especially since Montaigne writes with so much personality, empathy and feeling. It may be intellectual, but it's far from being dry and academic. It's a book that's meant to make you think more deeply about your own life and the lives of those around you.