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At first this was a surprise to me as I flicked between them, but it's a good illustration of the fact that English has changed a lot more in four hundred years than French has.

Bestselling in Michel De Montaigne

Many were the times that I turned to the Middle French to illuminate what seemed an obscure passage in my native language. It's only when you read the original — c'est assez de tramper nos plumes en ancre, sans les tramper en sang — that you realise Florio's first comma is the fulcrum on which two perfectly-balanced halves of the sentence pivot.

Take another look at the very end of that quote on the conquest of Mexico, above. Pour le destruire, on cerche un champ spacieux en pleine lumiere; pour le construire, on se musse dans un creux tenebreux et contraint. Each one avoideth to see a man borne, but all runne hastily to see him dye. To destroy him we seeke a spacious field and a full light, but to construct him we hide our selves in some darke corner and worke as close as we may. It is our dutie to conceale our selves in making him; it is our glory, and the originall of many vertues to destroy him being framed.

The French is precisely assembled, and Florio ignores the precision entirely. Where Montaigne is a Rolls-Royce engine, Florio is a cartoon jetpack. And yet! Where Florio fails to capture his source is precisely where he best represents the allusive, poly-synonymous essence of his own native tradition.


  1. Don Diego de noche (Spanish Edition)!
  2. The Post-American World: And The Rise Of The Rest?
  3. The Chondrocranium of Cryptoprocta ferox (Advances in Anatomy, Embryology and Cell Biology).
  4. La moneta (Farsi unidea) (Italian Edition);

Well, I won't push that any further, and Montaigne himself would doubtless have disagreed. There is no age but saith as much of hirs. For those curious about Florio, the NYRB has published a selection of his versions of the Essays under the intensely irritating title of Shakespeare's Montaigne , though neither Montaigne nor Florio need Shakespeare's coat-tails to ride on — and anyway, apart from one famous bit in The Tempest , the evidence for Shakespeare's having read Florio is not very exciting.

In the end though, whatever language you read Montaigne in, his humaneness and his sympathy will stay with you. By the time he writes the final volume he is at the end of his life, and his tone has not become bitter or regretful in the least. Everywhere he shows a desire to find a middle way between the intellectual and the physical, the elevated and the practical, which I find extremely cheering.

He invented an entire genre, but no one has achieved greater effects with it than he did himself. C'est non seulement la fondamentale mais la plus illustre de vos occupations…. Avez vous sceu mediter et manier vostre vie? Pour se montrer et exploicter nature n'a que faire de fortune: elle se montre egallement en tous estages et derriere, comme sans rideau.


  • Philosophy (and writing) as a way of life.
  • The Complete Essays;
  • Les Chambres closes: Histoire dune prostituée juive dAlgérie (POCHE) (French Edition).
  • Hee hath passed his life in idleness, say we; alas! I have done nothing this day. What, have you not lived? It is not only the fundamentall, but the noblest of your occupation. For a man to shew and exploit himselfe nature hath no neede of fortune; she equally shewes herselfe upon all grounds, in all sutes, before and behinde, as it were without curteines, welt, or gard. Have you knowne how to compose your manners? Have you knowne how to take rest?

    View all 30 comments. May 30, Roy Lotz rated it it was amazing Shelves: highly-recommended-favorites , prose-style , person-of-letters , francophilia , supermassive. It would have to be.


    1. The Complete Essays by Michel Montaigne;
    2. La lezione di Martini: Quello che da ateo ho imparato da un cardinale (Italian Edition).
    3. Distance, silence: Du je le plus difficile à découvrir, celui qui vit au jour le jour, se déploie le multiple je sous toutes ses facettes, sans le ... de mon histoi (Temps Réel) (French Edition);

    But here Montaigne managed to do something that has eluded the greatest of our modern science: to preserve a complete likeness of a person. Montaigne lives e'ssay. Montaigne lives and breathes in these pages, just as much as he would if he'd been cryogentically frozen and brought back to life before your eyes. Working your way through this book is a little like starting a relationship. But eventually the exhilaration wears off. You begin looking for other books, missing the thrill of first love. But what Montaigne lacks in bells and whistles, he more than compensates for with his constant companionship.

    You learn about the intimacies of his eating habits and bowel movements, his philosophy of sex as well as science, his opinion on doctors and horsemanship.

    Essays (Montaigne) - Wikipedia

    He lets it all hang out. And after a long and stressful day, you know Montaigne will be waiting on your bedside table to tell you a funny anecdote, to have easygoing conversation, or to just pass the time. This book took me a grand total of six months to read. I would dip into it right before bed—just a few pages.

    Sometimes, I tried to spend more time on the essays, but I soon gave it up. He has no attention span for longwinded arguments or extended exposition. As a result, whenever I tried to spend an hour on his writing, I got bored. Plus, burning your way through this book would ruin the experience of it. This is a very perceptive comment.

    For me, there was something quasi-religious in the ritual of reading a few pages of this book right before bed—night after night after night. For everything Montaigne lacks in intelligence, patience, diligence, and humility, he makes up for with his exquisite sanity. I can find no other word to describe it. Dipping into his writing is like dipping a bucket into a deep well of pure, blissful sanity. Montaigne makes the pursuit of living a reasonable life into high art.

    For Montaigne, self-knowledge is the key to knowledge of the human condition. Montaigne is a Skeptic one moment, an Epicurean another, a Stoic still another, and finally a Christian. You may take pride in a definition of yourself—a communist, a musician, a vegan—but no simple label ever comes close to pinning down the chaotic stream that is human life.

    We hold certain principles near and dear one moment, and five minutes later these principles are forgotten with the smell of lunch. The most dangerous people, it seems, are those that do try to totalize themselves under one heading or one creed. How do you reason with a person like that? Now I can move on to another bedside book. But if I ever feel myself drifting towards radicalism, extremism, or if I start to think abstract arguments are more important than the real stuff of human life, I will return to my old friend Montaigne. This is a book that could last you a lifetime.

    View all 17 comments. Tonight, all across America, tens of thousands of teenagers - perhaps hundreds of thousands - sit in front of laptops, writing essays.

    The Complete Essays

    It is the most dreaded homework assignment for many of them, and if they go on to college, it will be the assignment most cited as making them lose sleep, their printer to break, their grandmother to die, their car to break down, etc. Tonight, all across America, tens of thousands of teachers and professors count and recount the remaining essays i Tonight, all across America, tens of thousands of teenagers - perhaps hundreds of thousands - sit in front of laptops, writing essays.

    Tonight, all across America, tens of thousands of teachers and professors count and recount the remaining essays in their grading pile. It is their most dreaded teaching activity. It is painstaking. It is grammar.

    Essays of Michel de Montaigne — Complete by Michel de Montaigne

    It is word by word. In , Michel de Montaigne, the world's first essayist and self-acknowledged inventor of the genre, set out to "attempt. He did not know, nor did he care whether he succeeded. He wanted only to write to understand himself better.