Michel de Montaigne

Essays, by Michel de Montaigne - click to see full size image

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Not intended for publication by their author, the Essays of Michel de Montaigne were originally written to record 'some traits of my character and of my humours.' First published in 1580, they cover a wide range of topics from the major (religion) to the trivial (posting letters). Sometimes structural, sometimes not, Essays mixes anecdotes, insight, and autobiographical content. Montaigne was a French philosopher who influenced writers such as Francis Bacon, Descartes, Karl Marx, and Ralph Waldo Emerson. It is even said he influenced the great playwright, Shakespeare. Despite the success of his Essays, during his life, he was more admired as a statesman. The philosophy within the Essays show Montaigne to be a man who, among other things, believed that absolute truth could only be received through divine revelation - leaving most of his inquiries into the nature of things unanswered. Still, the book is seen as an important work, with his arguments being supported by quotes from more ancient writers. Montaigne, with this book, made the essay, as a literary genre, popular.

Part of Anne Haight's List of Banned Books.

Part of the Encyclopaedia Britannica’s Great Books of the Western World set.

Part of the Harvard Classics set.

This book has 502,387 words, 805 pages in the PDF version, and was originally published in 1580. This translation by Charles Cotton was published in 1877.

Production notes: This ebook of Essays was published by Global Grey in 2021, and updated on the 18th January 2024. The artwork used for the cover is 'Portrait of Michel de Montaigne' by an unknown artist.

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