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The Complete Works Hardcover – Apr 29 2003
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“A faithful translation is rare; a translation which preserves intact the original text is very rare; a perfect translation of Montaigne appears impossible. Yet Donald Frame has realized this feat. One does not seem to be reading a translation, so smooth and easy is the style; at each moment, one seems to be listening to Montaigne himself–the freshness of his ideas, the unexpected choice of words. Frame has kept everything.” –New York Times Book Review
From the Back Cover
“[For Montaigne,] talk—often continuous talk—stands at the top of the pyramid of all human activities . . . In their cultivated discontinuties, in their unexpected division into chapters, in their lightness of tone, in their allusiveness and their tumbling into anecdote and into historical gossip, his essays have brought writing as near as it can come to talk among friends.”
—from the Introduction by Stuart Hampshire
“A faithful translation is rare; a translation which preserves intact the original text is very rare; a perfect translation of Montaigne appears impossible. Yet Donald Frame has realized this feat. One does not seem to be reading a translation, so smooth and easy is the style; at each moment, one seems to be listening to Montaigne himself—the freshness of his ideas, the unexpected choice of words. Frame has kept everything.”
—NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW
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Top Customer Reviews
The essays speak for themselves, or at least should. Their popularity is well known and well deserved, and there are a number of fine essay collections available. What's great about this edition is that included with the classic essays are a few extant letters and Montaigne's travel journals, which were lost until almost two hundred years after his death. These additional pieces are not going to rival the essays in popularity -- the letters are few and formal, for instance -- but if you enjoy the mind of Montaigne you'll enjoy these extra inclusions.
Between June of 1580 and December of 1581, Montaigne -- with four other nobles and a variety of servants -- traveled through France, Germany, Switzerland and Italy before returning to Bordeaux. In the journals you'll find more evidence of the author's deeply interested view of the world around him, set out in that seemingly (and charmingly) haphazard, humane style found in spades in the essays.
In one entry, for instance, you'll find him retelling (with a straight face?) a local story he has heard of a young girl who jumped up and down so strenuously during play that she turned into a boy (Montaigne claims that at least a few locals back up this tale); in other entries you'll find him more down to earth, describing, for instance, the little stoves in the homes of Germany, or the tiles that lined some of the homes in what is now Switzerland, or the murals on the walls of Jeanne D'Arc's father's home.
By 1581, when Montaigne visited Rome, the treasures of the Vatican had become a mandatory stop on any well-informed traveller's itinerary.Read more ›
Montaigne had many influences in his life. He loves Roman history, studies ancient philosophy, and lived during a vicious religious civil war. Montaigne has many opinions, about how to approach life. Sometimes the reader will agree with Montaigne, at other times there is disagreement. Yet there seems to be a bond, that Montaigne makes with his readers.
I would recommend not reading this book cover to cover. I jumped around the various essays, depending on what topic grabbed my attention. I even re-read many of the essays, before moving on to a fresh title. I often felt like the best essay, was the one you had not yet discovered, but will read tomorrow.
I will end by saying; that this collection of essays, is an incredible addition to anyone`s home library. The book ranks as one of the best, I have ever had the pleasure of reading.