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MONTAIGNE : LES ESSAIS (French) Leather Bound – Jun 19 2007
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"Lecteur, je suis moi-même la matière de mon livre" : c'est ce surprenant aveu de subjectivité qui ouvre l'un des textes les plus modernes de la littérature française, quoique l'un des plus anciens. À la mort de son ami La Boétie, Montaigne décide en effet de prendre la plume pour perpétuer leurs discussions si fécondes. Sur ce mode autobiographique, tous les sujets seront abordés, de l'amitié à l'éducation, de la philosophie à la lecture, de la religion à la mort des hommes. En s'observant lui-même, Montaigne fait ainsi le tour de l'homme, proposant une réflexion essentielle sur sa place dans le monde et sur le champ d'action de la pensée humaine.
Au siècle de Rabelais, des poètes de la Pléiade et de l'humanisme européen, l'oeuvre de Montaigne reste une météorite inclassable, entre écriture personnelle et monument philosophique. Oeuvre d'un homme engagé dans son temps, les Essais allaient fonder toute une tradition d'écriture à la française, de Pascal à Malraux, de Rousseau à Camus. --Karla Manuele --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Back Cover
" Le Montaigne de L'Apologie est un peu comme un Pascal à qui brusquement, par je ne sais quel moyen, la fausseté historique du christianisme aurait été démontrée. Dès lors que reste-t-il de tout ce qu'il a écrit et pensé ? Exactement ce qui en reste pour un non-chrétien, il reste qu'il a pensé, écrit en toute sincérité. " --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.See all Product Description
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I first came to Michel de Montaigne’s Essais, as have many others, through Donald Frame’s very good translation. I’d found a master, or, as Nicolás Gómez Dávila called him, a patron saint. I read the Essays intermittently; later, I taught myself how to read French. (I used "French for Reading.") After I’d read a great many books in modern French, in me, naturally, grew a desire to cast aside a translation and read les Essais in French. First, I browsed modern French translations. Then I took a look at the University of Chicago’s extensive Montaigne Project. I concluded that I, with some help, would be able to tackle les Essais in the original, sixteenth- century, French. I was, in personal correspondence, encouraged by a prominent Montaigne scholar. Still, I hesitated after I’d read Frenchmen’s complaints about the difficulty and obscurity of Montaigne’s style.
Now, a year after starting my journey, I read – slowly but comfortably - les Essais in their original language. I’ve found that it wasn’t so hard as I’d first feared. Would you like to do the same? If so, here’s my advice.
1. Sample les Essais at the University of Chicago’s extensive Montaigne Project. If you like what you read, continue to the next steps.
2. Preview ‘Lire les Essais dans une édition du seizième siècle,’ which is found at the University of Virginia’s website. In particular, read
‘Quelques difficultés de la langue des Essais.’
3. Bookmark ‘Randle Cotgrave's 1611 French-English Dictionary.’ I consult this wonderful dictionary if I encounter an unknown word that’s
not elucidated at the bottom of the page.
4. Download Guy de Pernon’s rendition of les Essais in modern French. It’s available for free. I consult this sometimes.
5. If you don’t have it already, buy Donald Frame’s translation of the Essais. As a last resort, I read this to check my understanding of
difficult passages. (Read his biography of Montaigne, too. M.A. Screech’s “Montaigne & Melancholy: The Wisdom of the Essays” is a
6. Finally, buy the Pléiade edition of les Essais (ISBN: 9782070115051). After long hours researching the various original-language
editions of Montaigne’s Essais, I decided that this was the best. Below, I shall explain the reasons for my recommendation.
(7. Also, you can carry a Kindle version of Montaigne’s masterpiece in your smartphone.)
This edition, by la Bibliothèque de la Pléiade, is a serious and beautiful book, as are all the Pléiade’s. It’s small and thick, printed on Bible paper. It’s expensive, but it will last forever, look stunning in your hand, and, most important, give you everything you’ll need to read Montaigne’s Essais in their original, audacious language. (I purchased mine from Amazon.fr when the price was somewhat lower than it is now.)
First, the text. La Pléiade presents the posthumous edition of 1595, with Marie de Gournay’s preface. I shall not touch the disagreements about the various editions of the les Essais; I can say only that the editors argue strongly that the 1595 edition is closest to Montaigne’s intent. The "layers" of the additions that Montaigne made at different times are not signaled in the text. It is presented as it was first printed: without any paragraphs. The reader faces blocks of text, uninterrupted but by quotations, usually in Latin. At first, this is daunting, but I’ve became accustomed to it. In fact, it pushes me to focus and follow more closely the threads of Montaigne’s discussion. The text has been closely edited. The original spelling has been retained; only in a few cases has the orthography been regularized and made internally consistent. I shall give but a few examples. Ou/où, la/là, and a/à have been distinguished, but adjectives that end in ‘– ez’ remain. Variants from other editions are noted and given in the back of the book. Les Essais account for 1167 pages, after which come the notes.
Second, the apparatus. At the foot of each page are translations of all quotations in foreign languages and notes on vocabulary and syntax. These are essential. In the back of the book, there are 736 pages of notes, printed in a small font, which describe the sources of the quotations, references, and textual variants. In addition, erudite introductions to each “chapter,” as Montaigne called them, are placed at the back of the book. (I usually read them after I’ve finished the relevant chapter.)
This edition is a truly magnificent way to partake of Montaigne’s wise, Christian humanism.
What you're looking at is all of Montaigne's essays, in French, in one volume. There are many extras: introductory essays, footnotes, etc. All the Latin and Greek is translated into French. There is not a single word of English anywhere in the book.
The most important thing you need to know is that in this edition fixes up Montaigne's spelling to be that of current French. It doesn't fix his diction, though, so sometimes you are told about that. But if you've ever peered into unretouched Montaigne, it's a bit like looking at unretouched Chaucer, with the wacky spellings and all. No, the spellings, contractions, and punctuations have all been rendered in modern French, just not his vocabulary and grammar.
I know of a better edition of Montaigne's essays, but not a single volume. (The three-volume job I know retains Montaigne's original spellings.)
The book is larger than a normal paperback, but not oversized. The pages are very thin, though: about the thickness of those used in the Norton anthologies.
The overall editor was Jean Ceard. The publisher is "La Pochotheque." The ISBN is 2253132721.
And if, in desperation, you order it, you actually receive a CD-set completely different from everything mentioned or pictured on this page ??!! Just unbelievable ... .