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The Complete Essays of Montaigne Paperback – 30 Jun 1958


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Product details

  • Paperback: 908 pages
  • Publisher: Stanford University Press (30 Jun. 1958)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0804704864
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804704861
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 5.1 x 22.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,322,543 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Rob on 13 Jan. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the original edition of 'The Complete Essays of Montaigne', translated by Donald Frame and published by Stanford on 30 June, 1958 (ISBN-10: 0804704864). It is a fairly big book, but pleasant to handle and easy to hold for reading. It has the great merit of having a large legible typeface on very white acid-free paper. It is however very expensive at £33.73 for the Stanford paperback as compared with the Everyman 'The Complete Works (ISBN-10: 185715259X, hb) which reprints the Donald Frame translation in toto and also gives you all of Montaigne's other writings. It costs only £14 on Amazon.

However, there are two other points that would recommend this Stanford publication: (1) It is the edition that is often cited by commentators who give references to its pagination. Ann Hartle, for example, in her very interesting though somewhat dully written book (Michel de Montaigne, Accidental Philosopher) refers to the Stanford page numbers and gives no other indication to let us know which essay she is referring to. (2) The newly published MP3 Audio Book of the Complete Essays (ISBN-10: 1455828300)also uses the Donald Frame translation and refers to the Stanford edition's page numbers in the audio text.

So, if you are thinking of buying either of these two books, then you should buy the Donald Frame translation in the more expensive Stanford edition. The Frame translation, however, does not print the original Latin quotations, which is a bit of a loss. If you just want a good translation, then M.A. Screech's Penguin Classics paperback version at £13.84 would be just fine (ISBN-10: 0140446044). Screech handles the quotations much more appropriately and like Frame, his translation is based on Paul Villey's edition of the Bordeaux Copy.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 28 Aug. 2005
Format: Paperback
"My library is in the third story of a tower; on the first is my chapel, on the second a bedroom with ante-chambers, where I often lie to be alone; and above it there is a great wardrobe. Adjoining my library is a very neat little room, in which a fire can be laid in winter, and which is pleasantly lighted by a window..." Michel de Montaigne (1533 - 1592) wrote in the chapter "On Three Kinds of Relationships".
Montaigne liked being retired, seeking distance to a world of bloody fights between religious groups. Did these things develop, 400 years later? Montaigne tried to escape dogmatic thoughts finding a new way of hammering out thoughts via his typical relaxed method of writing. Living 200 years earlier than the other genius of essay, the poor Soeren Kierkegaard, Montaigne was not as filled up with anxiety as the Danish philosopher - he instead managed to stay calm with a solid resource of optimism, though things outside his favorite tower often run very worse.
His courageous goal was the overcoming of the stereotyped medieval conception of the world, in which humans usually had been overwhelmed by church- or government-authorities like puppets on a string. Montaigne established the departure to individual noticing, founded an anthropocentric view of world. This probably had something fresh to his contemporary readers.
Montaignes program was to dip down in ones own mind: "Everyone, who is listening to his inner landscape of thoughts, is able to discover his identity, so that he is able to repel everything, which does not fit this." About his style of writing essayist Elias Canetti noticed: "Montaigne is most beautiful, because he does not hurry."
Aged 17 Michel de Montaigne had ridden to Paris, to complete his humanistic education.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 22 reviews
86 of 95 people found the following review helpful
Montaigne as a Model of the Reasonable Use of Reason. 23 Jun. 2001
By tepi - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Those who discover Montaigne should count themselves very lucky. There are so many authors competing for our attention today, so many brilliant and less than brillliant men and women both contemporary and of the past, so many poets, novelists, philosophers, thinkers of every stripe, that Montaigne's voice can easily get lost in the general racket, like the voice of a single cricket on a noisy summer's night.
But Montaigne's voice is well worth singling out for special attention, like that one cricket whose song is especially musical, because there has never been anyone quite like him, nor anyone who has produced such a wealth of sensible observations on life and everything that goes to make it up.
We love Montaigne for his humanity, his wisdom, his clear insight into human nature, his tolerance of our weaknesses and failings, his love and compassion for all creatures whether man, animal, or plant, his calm, gentle and amiable voice, his stately and dignified progress as he conducts us through the vast repository of his mind. But above all we love him for his plain good sense.
Despite his distance in time, we can open these essays almost anywhere and immediately become engrossed. Some of what he says, particularly about our weaknesses and failings, may not be particularly welcome to some, though the open-minded will acknowledge its self-evident truth. Montaigne was not afraid to speak his mind, and as a man who was interested in almost everything, his observations range from the curious through to the truly profound.
At one time we find him, for example, discussing the best sexual position for conception, at others such deep notions as that in fact we are nothing; there is a disease in man, the opinion that he knows something; thought as the chief source of our woes; in man curiosity is an innate evil; only a fool is bound to his body by fear of death; nature needs little to be satisfied; there is only change; our absolute need for converse with others; how man should lay aside his imagined superiority; how reason is not a special unique gift of human beings, separating us off from the rest of Nature; of how we owe justice to men, and gentleness and kindness to animals, which like us have life and feelings, and even to trees and plants.
And so on through manifold topics, both weighty and light, his observations illustrated by stories contemporary and ancient, drawn not only from his incredibly wide learning, but also from his experience as man of the world.
The examples I've cited seem to me pitifully inadequate as describing or even suggesting the breadth of his thought - just a few examples selected at random that happen to appeal to me. Montaigne is too big to capture in a few words. His mind was as capacious as his enormous book, and he had something to say about almost everything. His is not so much a book as a companion for life.
Montaigne as that single special cricket singing away in the forest of learning along with thousands of others, is not only worth singling out because of his vast repertoire of songs, but even more because of the special way he sang them. What makes him so important and so valuable, especially to us today, is that he was characterized above all, not merely by reason, which is common enough, but by a REASONABLE, AND NOT EXCESSIVE, USE OF REASON. In other words, he knew that reason had its limits, that it was a tool limited in its applicability and useful only for certain purposes, and he had the good sense to know when we should stop.
There is in Montaigne a sanity, a balance, an affability, and a modesty and tolerance that is found in no other European thinker, and that reminds one more of the Taoist sage. But instead of fastening on the truly civilized pattern exemplified by Montaigne, Europe instead chose Descartes, Apostle of the Excessive Use of Reason, and with what results we know.
The Cartesian ideology of Reason fueled and continues to fuel the relentless Juggernaut of Reason now underway that threatens to end up crushing everything beneath its wheels. Montaigne would have been appalled. He stood for something more human.
57 of 65 people found the following review helpful
A review of Frame's translation 29 Feb. 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I know that Donald Frame has been widely praised for the quality of his translation and having used it side by side with the original I wouldn't disagree. There are however two points where I would like to voice a differing opinion. Any translation of a work should only presume to translate one language--if the author employs quotations in his work in languages other than his own they should remain untranslated in the body of the work (translations of Latin and Italian can either go side by side or in footnotes). This preserves the quality of presentation that the author strove for and is especially important with Montaigne, part of whose charm resides in his famous erudition. On the other hand, one area that a translation rightly smooths the path for a modern reader is in providing citations for Montaigne's quotations. Frame neglects to do this and while one can expect to know the exact locus of some of Montaigne's quotes, the educational environment of our day and his differs to such an extent that a worthwhile edition would provide references to passages cited--after all, Cicero survives in some 30 volumes and any given sentence is not that easy to track down.
46 of 54 people found the following review helpful
The voice of a good friend 8 May 2001
By Michael Sympson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Should I ever be forced to run away from war and disaster with nothing else but one book in a torn briefcase, or find myself at the business-end of a feeding tube in a hospital waiting for my last breather, then Montaigne would be a strong candidate to keep me company in this last and loneliest hour. Not that I have a hard time to choose, there is really only one other book I would consider, and it is most definitely not the bible, but Montaigne always conveyed to me the warmth and comfort of a good friend. Even when he sometimes loses me and prattles away on some obsession of his, it is like listening to your best friend without really listening, you are just glad he is there. What is it about this Frenchman I wonder, that has endured for such a long period of time? Shakespeare too still speaks to us, but often in a somewhat muffled voice, time and distance are beginning to tell Ð but Montaigne, who predated Shakespeare and even provided Hamlet with a few clues and phrases, strikes us still as fresh and modern as ever. He is one of those writers of which I have read every line ever printed; and apart from his essays, the itinerary of his travel to Italy has always been of particular interest to me, because it describes places I used to know intimately. How could times have changed so much, and certainly not always to the better. But in Montaigne this remote period becomes alive again, its comforts (or the lack of it), its smells, its behaviors, and of course the food (Montaigne was French after all) maintain their tangible presence and a glow like the memories of a distant childhood. Essays are supposed to enquire into some topic and come up with something conclusive to say about Ð well except for the real great essayists like Charles Lamb who never get that far to be conclusive on anything whatsoever. Same here. Montaigne is perhaps the earliest example in Western literature after the fall of Rome, of a writer who gives us Ònature seen through a temperament,Ó (Zola) and Montaigne is nothing if not a temperament. Well read people may contest this and point to Franoise Villon or Chaucer as earlier examples Ð I wonÕt argue, but who of these gentlemen is still so very much alive as our Monsieur Montaigne? No dictionary or glossary needed, just snuggle up in your favorite armchair and enjoy. When going through Jean-Yves TadiŽÕs monumental biography of Marcel Proust I was surprised to find so little evidence that Proust should actually have cared very much for Montaigne. Given his time and curriculum it stands to reason that Montaigne had been a must read, too familiar to fuss about. Or the great novelist preferred for once to cover his tracks, because Proust can be seen in many ways, one would be as the other of the 2 greatest French essayists. Authors have pedigrees (their favorite authors) and a reader has preferences (his favorite authors): if given the choice between Donne and Herbert I go for Dryden. (Really! ItÕs a bargain: you get Plutarch, Virgil, and Ovid as a bonus. Donne is just Donne, and Herbert just a case of well-spoken paranoia.) With Montaigne you open a window to the entire heritage of classic antiquity Ð sometimes it is like old gramophone recordings of long forgotten opera stars. In fact I always found Seneca a bearable read only in MontaigneÕs way of quoting him. Which brings us to the question which translation to use. I own both, Donald M. FrameÕs translation of the complete works, and CottonÕs staple translation of the essays. Which of the 2 comes closer to the tone of the original? Because despite a certain brand of bogus criticism in the vain of Northrop Frye and Òpost modern deconstructionÓ an authorÕs voice really matters. He might be many things, one of which is to be the messenger and witness of his own period, its concerns, its paraphernalia, its perspectives and smells, its way to express itself. So, without putting down Mr. FrameÕs seminal accomplishment, I for once shall hold on to my old Hazlitt edition of CottonÕs translation, and put Frame out on sale. It may not be the slickest read around, but at least the pacing and the rhythms of CottonÕs prose are the closest thing you can get of the original and it has earned Montaigne a citizenship in our own language.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
superlatif 7 Jan. 2010
By Caraculiambro - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I've had this thing since the late 80s. Even then I was amazed by it. It should have been called "The Ultimate Montaigne," because unless you want to put the original text on the facing pages, I don't see how this could ever be improved.

If you're doing Montaigne in English, you will never find a reason to use another edition. All of Montaigne's essays complete, and all with Frame's useful and non-condescending footnotes right on the bottom of every page: translating the Latin, providing helpful historical or contextual information, etc.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
REVIEW FOR UNABRIDGED, MP3 audiobook version 24 Nov. 2012
By A. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: MP3 CD Verified Purchase
Each morning I wake up at 6am, eat a bowl of oatmeal, then walk downstairs to spend some time on the elliptical machine before heading out to my sedentary desk job. I purchased a mini stereo system that plays MP3 CDs and I listen to audiobook essays while I exercise.

So far I've listened to Frame's Translation of Montaigne's Essays, Dryden Translation of Plutarch's Lives (http://www.amazon.com/Plutarchs-Lives-Vol-Part-Plutarch/dp/0786110406/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1353780747&sr=1-5&keywords=Plutarchs+Lives%2C+Vol.+1), as well as various Emerson Essays (http://www.amazon.com/Essays-Ralph-Waldo-Emerson-Second/dp/1455154180/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1353780876&sr=1-3&keywords=ralph+waldo+emerson)

What a truly great way to start the day. Even if the rest of the day is an utter, unbearable, drawn-out disaster it is still a day worth living because I spent an hour improving my mind and body. Montaigne, Plutarch, and Emerson are stirringly wise. In the morning their words rouse my mind and bestow pragmatic advice. Their writings are rich yet sprightly.

Next I plan to listen to Lucius Annaeus Seneca, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius.

I realize this review is more about me and my morning routine than Montaigne's greatness or Donald Frame's inimitable translation, but enough reviews have been written on those topics; this book is essential for living. I just want to share a fulfilling routine I have established and recommend purchasing duplicates--the book and the MP3 CDs--so that you can listen to the essays at times when it may be inconvenient to read them.
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