The Complete Essays
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Michel de Montaigne was one of the most influential figures of the Renaissance, singlehandedly responsible for popularising the essay as a literary form.
In 1572, Montaigne retired to his estates in order to devote himself to leisure, reading and reflection. There he wrote his constantly expanding 'essays', inspired by the ideas he found in books from his library and his own experience.
He discusses subjects as diverse as war-horses and cannibals, poetry and politics, sex and religion, love and friendship, ecstasy and experience. Above all, Montaigne studied himself to find his own inner nature and that of humanity. The Essays are among the most idiosyncratic and personal works in all literature. An insight into a wise Renaissance mind, they continue to engage, enlighten and entertain modern readers.
Born in 1533, Michel de Montaigne studied law and spent a number of years working as a counsellor before devoting his life to reading, writing and reflection. He died in 1586.



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Date de parution 09 avril 2024
Nombre de lectures 4
EAN13 9789897782152
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 1 Mo

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Michel de Montaigne
Table of Contents
The Life of Montaigne
The Letters of Montaigne
The Author to the Reader
Book 1
Chapter 1 — That Men by Various Ways Arrive at the Same End
Chapter 2 — Of Sorrow
Chapter 3 — That Our Affections Carry Themselves Beyond Us
Chapter 4 — That the Soul Expends its Passions Upon False Objects, where the True are Wanting
Chapter 5 — Whether the Governor of a Place Besieged Ought Himself to Go Out to Parley
Chapter 6 — That the Hour of Parley Dangerous
Chapter 7 — That the Intention is Judge of Our Actions
Chapter 8 — Of Idleness
Chapter 9 — Of Liars
Chapter 10 — Of Quick or Slow Speech
Chapter 11 — Of Prognostications
Chapter 12 — Of Constancy
Chapter 13 — The Ceremony of the Interview of Princes
Chapter 14 — That Men are Justly Punished for Being Obstinate in the Defence of a Fort that is Not in Reason to Be Defended
Chapter 15 — Of the Punishment of Cowardice
Chapter 16 — A Proceeding of Some Ambassadors
Chapter 17 — Of Fear
Chapter 18 — That Men are Not to Judge of Our Happiness Till After Death.1
Chapter 19 — That to Study Philosopy is to Learn to Die
Chapter 20 — Of the Force of Imagination
Chapter 21 — That the Profit of One Man is the Damage of Another
Chapter 22 — Of Custom, and that We Should Not Easily Change a Law Received
Chapter 23 — Various Events from the Same Counsel
Chapter 24 — Of Pedantry
Chapter 25 — Of the Education of Children
Chapter 26 — That it is Folly to Measure Truth and Error by Our Own Capacity
Chapter 27 — Of Friendship
Chapter 28 — Nine and Twenty Sonnets of Estienne De La Boitie
Chapter 29 — Of Moderation
Chapter 30 — Of Cannibals
Chapter 31 — That a Man is Soberly to Judge of the Divine Ordinances
Chapter 32 — That We are to Avoid Pleasures, Even at the Expense of Life
Chapter 33 — That Fortune is Oftentimes Observed to Act by the Rule of Reason
Chapter 34 — Of One Defect in Our Government
Chapter 35 — Of the Custom of Wearing Clothes
Chapter 36 — Of Cato the Younger1
Chapter 37 — That We Laugh and Cry for the Same Thing
Chapter 38 — Of Solitude
Chapter 39 — A Consideration Upon Cicero
Chapter 40 — That the Relish for Good and Evil Depends in Great Measure Upon the Opinion We have of Them
Chapter 41 — Not to Communicate a Man’s Honour
Chapter 42 — Of the Inequality Amoungst Us.
Chapter 43 — Of Sumptuary Laws
Chapter 44 — Of Sleep
Chapter 45 — Of the Battle of Dreux1
Chapter 46 — Of Names
Chapter 47 — Of the Uncertainty of Our Judgment
Chapter 48 — Of War Horses, or Destriers
Chapter 49 — Of Ancient Customs
Chapter 50 — Of Democritus and Heraclitus
Chapter 51 — Of the Vanity of Words
Chapter 52 — Of the Parsimony of the Ancients
Chapter 53 — Of a Saying of Caesar
Chapter 54 — Of Vain Subtleties
Chapter 55 — Of Smells
Chapter 56 — Of Prayers
Chapter 57 — Of Age
Book 2
Chapter 1 — Of the Inconstancy of Our Actions
Chapter 2 — Of Drunkenness
Chapter 3 — A Custom of the Isle of Cea1
Chapter 4 — To-Morrow’s a New Day
Chapter 5 — Of Conscience
Chapter 6 — Use Makes Perfect
Chapter 7 — Of Recompenses of Honour
Chapter 8 — Of the Affection of Fathers to Their Children
Chapter 9 — Of the Arms of the Parthians
Chapter 10 — Of Books
Chapter 11 — Of Cruelty
Chapter 12 — Apology for Raimond Sebond
Chapter 13 — Of Judging of the Death of Another
Chapter 14 — That Our Mind Hinders Itself
Chapter 15 — That Our Desires are Augmented by Difficulty
Chapter 16 — Of Glory
Chapter 17 — Of Presumption
Chapter 18 — Of Giving the Lie
Chapter 19 — Of Liberty of Conscience
Chapter 20 — That We Taste Nothing Pure
Chapter 21 — Against Idleness
Chapter 22 — Of Posting
Chapter 23 — Of Ill Means Employed to a Good End
Chapter 24 — Of the Roman Grandeur
Chapter 25 — Not to Counterfeit Being Sick
Chapter 26 — Of Thumbs
Chapter 27 — Cowardice the Mother of Cruelty
Chapter 28 — All Things have their Season
Chapter 29 — Of Virtue
Chapter 30 — Of a Monstrous Child
Chapter 31 — Of Anger
Chapter 32 — Defence of Seneca and Plutarch
Chapter 33 — The Story of Spurina
Chapter 34 — Observation on the Means to Carry on a War According to Julius Caesar
Chapter 35 — Of Three Good Women
Chapter 36 — Of the Most Excellent Men
Chapter 37 — Of the Resemblance of Children to their Fathers
Book 3
Chapter 1 — Of Profit and Honesty
Chapter 2 — Of Repentance
Chapter 3 — Of Three Commerces
Chapter 4 — Of Diversion
Chapter 5 — Upon Some Verses of Virgil
Chapter 6 — Of Coaches
Chapter 7 — Of the Inconvenience of Greatness
Chapter 8 — Of the Art of Conference
Chapter 9 — Of Vanity
Chapter 10 — Of Managing the Will
Chapter 11 — Of Cripples
Chapter 12 — Of Physiognomy
Chapter 13 — Of Experience
The present publication is intended to supply a recognised deficiency in our literature — a library edition of the Essays of Montaigne. This great French writer deserves to be regarded as a classic, not only in the land of his birth, but in all countries and in all literatures. His Essays, which are at once the most celebrated and the most permanent of his productions, form a magazine out of which such minds as those of Bacon and Shakespeare did not disdain to help themselves; and, indeed, as Hallam observes, the Frenchman’s literary importance largely results from the share which his mind had in influencing other minds, coeval and subsequent. But, at the same time, estimating the value and rank of the essayist, we are not to leave out of the account the drawbacks and the circumstances of the period: the imperfect state of education, the comparative scarcity of books, and the limited opportunities of intellectual intercourse. Montaigne freely borrowed of others, and he has found men willing to borrow of him as freely. We need not wonder at the reputation which he with seeming facility achieved. He was, without being aware of it, the leader of a new school in letters and morals. His book was different from all others which were at that date in the world. It diverted the ancient currents of thought into new channels. It told its readers, with unexampled frankness, what its writer’s opinion was about men and things, and threw what must have been a strange kind of new light on many matters but darkly understood. Above all, the essayist uncased himself, and made his intellectual and physical organism public property. He took the world into his confidence on all subjects. His essays were a sort of literary anatomy, where we get a diagnosis of the writer’s mind, made by himself at different levels and under a large variety of operating influences.
Of all egotists, Montaigne, if not the greatest, was the most fascinating, because, perhaps, he was the least affected and most truthful. What he did, and what he had professed to do, was to dissect his mind, and show us, as best he could, how it was made, and what relation it bore to external objects. He investigated his mental structure as a schoolboy pulls his watch to pieces, to examine the mechanism of the works; and the result, accompanied by illustrations abounding with originality and force, he delivered to his fellow-men in a book.
Eloquence, rhetorical effect, poetry, were alike remote from his design. He did not write from necessity, scarcely perhaps for fame. But he desired to leave France, nay, and the world, something to be remembered by, something which should tell what kind of a man he was — what he felt, thought, suffered — and he succeeded immeasurably, I apprehend, beyond his expectations.
It was reasonable enough that Montaigne should expect for his work a certain share of celebrity in Gascony, and even, as time went on, throughout France; but it is scarcely probable that he foresaw how his renown was to become world-wide; how he was to occupy an almost unique position as a man of letters and a moralist; how the Essays would be read, in all the principal languages of Europe, by millions of intelligent human beings, who never heard of Perigord or the League, and who are in doubt, if they are questioned, whether the author lived in the sixteenth or the eighteenth century. This is true fame. A man of genius belongs to no period and no country. He speaks the language of nature, which is always everywhere the same.
The text of these volumes is taken from the first edition of Cotton’s version, printed in 3 vols. 8vo, 1685–6, and republished in 1693, 1700, 1711, 1738, and 1743, in the same number of volumes and the same size. In the earliest impression the errors of the press are corrected merely as far as page 240 of the first volume, and all the editions follow one another. That of 1685–6 was the only one which the translator lived to see. He died in 1687, leaving behind him an interesting and little-known collection of poems, which appeared posthumously, 8vo, 1689.
It was considered imperative to correct Cotton’s translation by a careful collation with the ‘variorum’ edition of the original, Paris, 1854, 4 vols. 8vo or 12mo, and parallel passages from Florin’s earlier undertaking have occasionally been inserted at the foot of the page. A Life of the Author and all his recovered Letters, sixteen in number, have also been given; but, as regards the correspondence, it can scarcely be doubted that it is in a purely fragmentary state. To do more than furnish a sketch of the leading incidents in Montaigne’s life seemed, in the presence of Bayle St. John’s charming and able biography, an attempt as difficult as it was useless.
The besetting sin of both Montaigne’s translators seems to have been a propensity for reducing his language and phraseology to the language and phraseology of the age and country to which they belonged, and, moreover, inserting paragraphs and words, not here and there only, but constant

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