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How to Read Montaigne Paperback – 6 Aug 2007


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Product details

  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Granta Books; Reprint edition (6 Aug 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1862079447
  • ISBN-13: 978-1862079441
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 494,085 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

'It will surely remain as the definitive short study on Montaigne for years to come'
-- TLS

About the Author

Terence Cave is Emeritus Professor of French Literature at the University of Oxford, Emeritus Research Fellow of St John s College, Oxford, and a Fellow of the British Academy. He is the author of The Cornucopian Text: Problems of Writing in the French Renaissance and other studies in early modern French culture.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
When I recently retired to domestic life, determined to concern myself, as far as I was able, with nothing but spending my few remaining years in leisure and privacy, it seemed to me that I could do my mind no greater favour than to leave it in complete idleness, allowing it to commune with itself, to settle and find a fixed point within itself: something I hoped it could from now on achieve more easily, having in the course of time become more weighty and more mature. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Ralph Blumenau TOP 500 REVIEWER on 19 Nov 2008
Format: Paperback
This short book is not the easiest of reads, but it is very illuminating, showing, as it does, that Montaigne's Essais are primarily and in an original way about a way of thinking rather than about the contents of the thought. Essai was a word meaning an attempt, not a word describing a literary form as it was soon to become; it describes the attempts of Montaigne to capture and record precisely thought processes as they came to him, the precision matched with the fleeting nature of the thoughts, which often immediately evoked their opposites. Cave shows the careful choice of words and metaphor and how Montaigne's apparent randomness and digressions are actually cleverly crafted. There is no commitment to any certainty - hence the motto on one side of a medal he struck: Que sais-je? (Answer: `only one thing with certainty - myself'), matched on the reverse with a pair of scales to represent that one view needs to be weighed against another. He has often been described as a sceptic, and indeed he had quotations from sceptic philosophers painted on the beams of the ceiling in his library/study; but he knew that even scepticism had its drawbacks and dangers, and it is clear that he had some basic beliefs, and that at the centre of all his fleeting impressions there is a solid I. The book confirms the traditional picture of a sharp-minded but very attractive character.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By C. M. Bates on 29 Dec 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Montaigne is hard to read, especially if French is not your native language. This book is a great, short and very readable guide to reading, and most importantly, understanding Montaigne. It certainly enhanced my understanding and enjoyment of reading Montaigne. I would highly recommend this little book.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By James S. Helgeson on 4 Oct 2009
Format: Paperback
This is an elegant, lucid introduction to Montaigne. It is as rewarding as a short book of this sort can be.

It's very unfortunate that it should have gone out of print so quickly. (Funny that the prices, even for used copies, seem to have risen far above the initial offer, so it seems to be a good investment as well!)

Please reprint, and quickly.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful By razzmattas on 8 Sep 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bout this for somebody...
They lie it but haven't read it yet.
They prefer to read the actual Montaigne first!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 1 review
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
A revolutionary experiment in recording thought 19 Nov 2008
By Ralph Blumenau - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This short book is not the easiest of reads, but it is very illuminating, showing, as it does, that Montaigne's Essais are primarily and in an original way about a way of thinking rather than about the contents of the thought. Essai was a word meaning an attempt, not a word describing a literary form as it was soon to become; it describes the attempts of Montaigne to capture and record precisely thought processes as they came to him, the precision matched with the fleeting nature of the thoughts, which often immediately evoked their opposites. Cave shows the careful choice of words and metaphor and how Montaigne's apparent randomness and digressions are actually cleverly crafted. There is no commitment to any certainty - hence the motto on one side of a medal he struck: Que sais-je? (Answer: `only one thing with certainty - myself'), matched on the reverse with a pair of scales to represent that one view needs to be weighed against another. He has often been described as a sceptic, and indeed he had quotations from sceptic philosophers painted on the beams of the ceiling in his library/study; but he knew that even scepticism had its drawbacks and dangers, and it is clear that he had some basic beliefs. The book confirms the traditional picture of a sharp-minded but very attractive character.
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