"How to live is a superb, spirited introduction to the master, and should have its readers rushing straight to the essays themselves" (Adam Thorpe Guardian)
"Sarah Bakewell has written a marvellously confident and clear introduction to Montaigne...a rare achievement. Sarah Bakewell deserves congratulations for opening Montaigne to new readers so very appealingly" (Evening Standard)
"Illuminating and humane book... It's rare to come across a biographer who remains so deliciously fond of her subject... How to Live will delight and illuminate" (Independent)
"Bakewell writes with verve. This is an intellectually lively treatment of a Renaissance giant and his world" (Daily Telegraph)
From the Inside Flap
It may seem surprising to suggest that we twenty-first-century Westerners should trace our heritage to a sixteenth-century Gascon nobleman who retired to a book-filled tower and devoted his days to 'folding his gaze inward'. But it is true: we are all Montaigneans.
We owe to Montaigne the idea that immersion in one's inner world can be a sociable act, and that what makes us an individual also brings out the humanity we share with others. Living from 1533 to 1592, in a France dominated by bloody and miserable civil war, he maintained as private a life as possible while writing a hundred or so lively, revealing pieces which he called essais, or 'tries'. He talks about
feelings that are hard to express or even to notice: about the experience of being lazy, or brave, or indecisive; about lying; about obsessive fears of death or illness, and the way they seem to recede as
actual misfortunes increase. He often describes the sheer pleasure of being alive - a sensation he has learned to enhance simply by paying close attention to it.
This book tells his life story - the first biography in English for nearly fifty years - examining his youthful journeys to Italy and his friendships, with the scholar and poet Etienne la Boétie and with his protégée and virtual adopted daughter Marie de Gournay. But it also traces the way generations of readers have felt drawn to him since his death, recognising their own features in his self-portrait. Ultimately it asks what we today, might discover from looking in that portrait - or rather, in that mirror.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Back Cover
'An illuminating and humane book... It's rare to come across a biographer who remains so deliciously fond of her subject' Independent
How to get on well with people, how to deal with violence, how to adjust to losing someone you love? How to live?
This question obsessed Renaissance nobleman Michel Eyquem de Montaigne, whose free-roaming explorations of his thought and experience were unlike anything written before. Into these essays he put whatever was in his head: his tastes in wine and food, his childhood memories, the way his dog's ears twitched when it was dreaming, events in the appalling civil wars raging around him. The Essays was an instant bestseller, and over four hundred years later, readers still come to him in search of companionship, wisdom and entertainment - and in search of themselves.
This first full biography of Montaigne in English for nearly fifty years relates the story of his life by way of the questions he posed and the answers he explored.
'Bakewell writes with verve. This is an intellectually lively treatment of a Renaissance giant and his world' Daily Telegraph
'Splendidly conceived and exquisitely written... It should persuade another generation to fall in love with Montaigne' Sunday Times
'This welding together of biography and self-help mirrors exactly the project of Montaigne's Essays' Financial Times
'A bright, engaging book that can only enthuse you to read the essays themselves ... Try it and you will make a new, most intimate friend' Daily Mail