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.
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03 October 1993
Book 1: we reach the same end by discrepant means; on idleness; on punishing cowardice; on fear; to philosophize is to learn how to die; on educating children; that it is madness to judge the true and the false from our own capacities; on the cannibals; judgements on God's ordinances must be embarked upon with prudence; on solitude; on prayer; on the length of life. Book 2: on the inconstancy of our actions; on drunkenness; on conscience; on the affection of fathers for their children; on cruelty; in defence of Seneca and Plutarch; on three good wives; on the resemblance of children to their fathers. Book 3: on repenting; on three kinds of social intercourse; on some lines of Virgil; on coaches; on the lame; on experience.
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.