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52 of 56 people found the following review helpful
on 14 January 2009
This review is intended as a counterbalance to the featured 2-star one, as it seems to me that this edition is unfairly disparaged by that earlier reviewer simply because it contains American spellings. Montaigne pleads for tolerance: `every man calls barbarous anything he is not accustomed to; it is indeed the case that we have no other criterion of truth or right-reason than the example and form of the opinion and customs of our own country' (*Essays*, I, 31). Both this translation and Michael Screech's are superlative and would be excellent choices. Buy them both!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 6 August 2012
Irrespective of the translation, which seems a topic that divides opinion, this is a vast book - 1,336 pages - and badly let down by the total lack of an index. Since Montaigne is famously apt to throw in asides and comments on all sort of topics during the course of a single essay, the title of the essay alone is woefully inadequate to locate remembered passages and topics.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 22 July 2013
Glorious work, well presented. The paper could be thicker and the typeface better but as Montaigne would say, life isn't perfect. It's the contents that matter.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 27 November 2013
Let me qualify what I am about to say, firstly by laying aside any real objections to why you should not buy this. The bottom line is, that this is an excellent edition with sturdy binding in an aesthetically pleasing cover. As are all Everymans' editions, I find little to fault with them.
That said, one of the key peculiarities and fascinations of Montaigne's writings are the quotations which are peppered across his whole canon. Depending on your inquisitiveness or academic purity, I find that the one real issue in this edition is the translation then omission of the original ancient quotations (mostly Latin.)
This for me, removes something of the soul from Montaigne's work, and is an essential feature that has been discarded in this translation. The English equivalents are there but, the aesthetic quality is lost.

Yes, I am coming across as rather purist here, but I thought you should know before buying. An index would be nice too.

Returning to my opening remarks, you will find it still a great read, but it might be better.
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Bought for my youngest son at his request though my old version had an excellent index. It has disappeared -probably borrowed and not returned as my house is full of books I can-t willingly part with.
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on 6 August 2013
The book is full of magical gems, snippets of information and not just meaningless soundbites. Rather heavy though - perhaps this is one book that is better read on kindle.
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on 10 February 2014
Well written, comprehensive, every one should have a balanced knowledge of religion, its roots, its place in the world, before they judge others and their religion.
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on 29 November 2014
Fascinating, absorbing and very useful. What a marvellous style. The essays are outstanding. My first introduction to truly wonderful writing.
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on 23 June 2014
Contender for the greatest piece of non fiction ever written?
No.
Nothing and no-one could approach it.
End of. Right.
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27 of 41 people found the following review helpful
on 28 August 2005
"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 writing and 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. There he had attached important relations, had operated with prostitutes notoriously and had squandered one the family wealth, until the father pulled the emergency brake and called him back to Bordeaux, where he had to begin a boring job at the local court (if we can trust the speculations of the French biographer Lacouture). Historically more secured is Montaigne's political identity: the France of his time had torn up, the faith splitting escalated in the "St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre" in Paris on 24 August 1572, bloody amuck in many other French cities followed, also in Montaigne's Bordeaux. He had been the mayor, and particularly in the second term of office 1583-85, he skillfully succeeded to calm down the parties (Catholics tried to slaughter the Protestant Huguenots). His "ideology-free" position had been developed in expanded studies of the classical philosophers - and in a thereupon diametrically opposite literary attempt to justify an own individual kind of thinking and writing: precisely analyzing human conditions (using oneself as the only field, we can explore without too much strange mistakes) without being paralyzed by social regulations of how to search and communicate. "I do not proclaim doctrines of faith, but not obligatory opinions, which you can classify as a gesture alike children, trying to show their experiments: they only want to learn, not to instruct or indoctrinate." The skeptical, further-asking, essentially open dialogue of Montaigne influenced such thinkers as Diderot, Lichtenberg or Nietzsche. His writing method encouraged philosophy, psychology - and hundreds of essayists. Indeed we hope, that Montaigne's voice will never get lost ...
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