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 Inside Flap
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 masterly and engaging writings, his subjects ranging from proper conversation and good reading, to the raising of children and the endurance of pain, from solitude, destiny, time and custom, to truth, consciousness, and death. Having stood the test of time, his essays continue to influence writers nearly five hundred years later.
Also included in this complete edition of his works are Montaigne's letters and travel journal, fascinating records of the experiences and contemplations that would shape and infuse his essays. Montaigne speaks to us always in a personal voice in which his virtues of tolerance, moderation, and understanding are dazzlingly manifest.
Donald M. Frame's masterful translation is widely acknowledged to be the classic English version.
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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.