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Customer reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4

TOP 500 REVIEWERon 19 November 2008
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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on 29 December 2011
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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on 4 October 2009
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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on 8 September 2013
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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