The Essays of Michel de Montaigne, in Three Volumes, with an Introduction by Andre Gide and an Accompanying Handbook to the Essays which Includes Notes upon the Text by the Translator and a Series of Comments on the Essays by Grace Norton

By: Montaigne, Michel De; Ives, George B.; Gide, Andre; Norton, Grace

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Book Condition: Very Good


Includes all three publisher's slipcases and Sandglass insert Number 31R. 1946 Hard Cover. xlvi, 2077 pp. All three volumes paginated continuously. A selection of essays by the man who coined the term (from the French word for 'attempts'). Translated by George B. Ives, with an introduction by Andre Gide and notes by Grace Norton. Essays is the title of a book written by Michel de Montaigne that was first published in 1580. Montaigne essentially invented the literary form of essay, a short subjective treatment of a given topic, of which the book contains a large number. Essai is French for 'trial' or 'attempt'. Montaigne wrote in a kind of crafted rhetoric designed to intrigue and involve the reader, sometimes appearing to move in a stream-of-thought from topic to topic and at other times employing a structured style which gives more emphasis to the didactic nature of his work. His arguments are often supported with quotes from classical Greek and Roman texts. Montaigne's stated goal in his book is to describe man, and especially himself, with utter frankness. He finds the great variety and volatility of human nature to be its most basic features. A typical quote is 'I have never seen a greater monster or miracle than myself.' He describes his own poor memory, his ability to solve problems and mediate conflicts without truly getting emotionally involved, his disgust for man's pursuit of lasting fame, and his attempts to detach himself from worldly things to prepare for death. Montaigne is disgusted with the violent and, in his opinion, barbaric conflicts between Catholics and Protestants of his time, and his writings show a pessimism and skepticism quite uncharacteristic for the Renaissance. Overall, Montaigne was a strong supporter of humanism. He believed in God but declined to speculate about His nature. He exhibited a quite modern cultural relativism, recognizing that laws, morals and religions of the various cultures, while often quite different, may all be equally valid. He opposed the conquest of the New World, deploring the suffering it brought upon the natives. Citing the case of Martin Guerre as an example, he believes that humans cannot attain certainty, and he rejects general and absolute statements and all dogma. His skepticism is best expressed in the long essay 'An Apology for Raymond Sebond' (Book 2, Chapter 12) which has frequently been published separately. We cannot trust our reasoning because thoughts just occur to us: we don't truly control them. We do not have good reasons to consider ourselves superior to the animals. He is highly skeptical of confessions obtained under torture, pointing out that such confessions can be made up by the suspect just to escape the torture he is subjected to (the first known use of this argument against torture). In the middle of the section normally entitled 'Man's Knowledge Cannot Make Him Good,' he wrote that his motto was 'What do I know?'. The essay on Sebond ostensibly defended Christianity. However, Montaigne eloquently employed so many references and quotes from classical Greek and Roman, i.e. non-Christian authors, especially the atomist Lucretius. Montaigne considered marriage necessary for the raising of children, but disliked the strong feelings of romantic love as being detrimental to freedom. One of his quotations is 'Marriage is like a cage; one sees the birds outside desperate to get in, and those inside desperate to get out.' In education, he favored concrete examples and experience over the teaching of abstract knowledge that is expected to be accepted uncritically. The remarkable modernity of thought apparent in Montaigne's essays, coupled with their sustained popularity, made them arguably the most prominent work in French philosophy until the Enlightenment. Their influence over French education and culture is still strong. The official portrait of former French president Franois Mitterrand pictured him facing the camera, holding an open copy of the Essays in his hands.

Title: The Essays of Michel de Montaigne, in Three Volumes, with an Introduction by Andre Gide and an Accompanying Handbook to the Essays which Includes Notes upon the Text by the Translator and a Series of Comments on the Essays by Grace Norton

Author: Montaigne, Michel De; Ives, George B.; Gide, Andre; Norton, Grace

Categories: Philosophy, Essays & Letters, Continental,

Edition: Reissue

Publisher: New York, The Heritage Press: 1946

Binding: Hard Cover

Book Condition: Very Good

Jacket Condition: No Jacket

Seller ID: 2306240

Keywords: PHILOSOPHY ESSAYS MICHEL DE MONTAIGNE PHILOSOPHICAL,