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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life, The Universe, And Everything
De Montaigne withdrew to his estates towards the end of his life to allow himself to think and to read from his impressive library, noting his thoughts and opinions as he went along. He writes on a wide variety of topics, from Cannibals to childcare, from drunkenness to prayer. It is a very personal account, so much that it feels like a part of De Montaigne still lives...
Published on 30 April 2009 by JH Dickinson

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45 of 47 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars a disappointing translation, er...possibly
The praise other reviewers have heaped upon the author is wholly justified.

I have loved my copy of the earlier Penguin Classics selection, translated by J M Cohen, to death. So I was looking forward to renewing it with a more up-to-date edition.

However, having recieved this, which is said to be a translation by M A Screech, I have to confess my...
Published on 7 Oct 2010 by Tarkus


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45 of 47 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars a disappointing translation, er...possibly, 7 Oct 2010
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This review is from: The Essays: A Selection (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
The praise other reviewers have heaped upon the author is wholly justified.

I have loved my copy of the earlier Penguin Classics selection, translated by J M Cohen, to death. So I was looking forward to renewing it with a more up-to-date edition.

However, having recieved this, which is said to be a translation by M A Screech, I have to confess my disappointment. It certainly provides more explanatory material, in the form of footnotes and annotations. But whilst I don't have the scholarship to judge whether this is a more strictly accurate translation, there is little doubt that it is a less fluent one. To take some examples at random:

Screech: 'And therefore, reader, I myself am the subject of my book; it is not reasonable that you should employ your leisure on a topic so frivolous and so vain'.

Cohen: 'So, reader, I am myself the substance of my book, and there is no reason why you should waste your leisure on so frivolous and unrewarding a subject'.

Screech: 'The most beautiful of lives to my liking are those which conform to the common measure, human and ordinate, without miracles though and without rapture'.

Cohen: 'The finest lives are, in my opinion, those which conform to the common and human model in an orderly way, with no marvels and no extravagances'.

Screech: 'It is an accomplishment, absolute and as it were God-like, to know how to enjoy our being as we ought'

Cohen: 'The man who knows how to enjoy his existence as he ought has attained to an absolute perfection, like that of the gods.'

The differences are subtle, but the accumulation of them, page on page, makes the Cohen translation a much more pleasureable read.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life, The Universe, And Everything, 30 April 2009
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JH Dickinson (York, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Essays: A Selection (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
De Montaigne withdrew to his estates towards the end of his life to allow himself to think and to read from his impressive library, noting his thoughts and opinions as he went along. He writes on a wide variety of topics, from Cannibals to childcare, from drunkenness to prayer. It is a very personal account, so much that it feels like a part of De Montaigne still lives through the book, and you understand him better as you read deeper into his work.

This is a book that could otherwise be dismissed as the ramblings of an old man, were it not for De Montaigne's extensive knowledge. He is erudite, intelligent, very well-read, and at times even witty, so it is a pleasure to listen to his thoughts and ruminations. There are some delightful diversions into anecdote, and many period details also - the contemporary understanding of pregnancy in particular leaves much to be desired!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Communicating across the centuries, 31 Mar 2010
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This review is from: The Essays: A Selection (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
A great book to dip into, Montaigne was a man of his time but the way he thinks and writes is very contemporary.
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The Essays: A Selection (Penguin Classics)
The Essays: A Selection (Penguin Classics) by Michel Montaigne (Paperback - 26 Aug 1993)
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