In 1572 Montaigne retired from public life and began the reading and writing which were to develop into "assays" of his thoughts and opinions. Nobody in Western civilization had ever tried to do what Montaigne set out to do. In a vivid, contemporary style he surprises us with entertaining quotations; he moves swiftly from thought to thought, often digressing from an idea only to return to it triumphantly, having caught up with it elsewhere, and in so doing leads the reader along the criss-cross pathsof a journey of discovery. Montaigne set out to discover himself. What he discovered instead was the human race.
Michel de Montaigne was one of the most influential figures of the Renaissance, singlehandedly responsible for popularising the essay as a literary form. This Penguin Classics edition of The Complete Essays is translated from the French and edited with an introduction and notes by M.A. Screech. In 1572 Montaigne retired to his estates in order to devote himself to leisure, reading and reflection. There he wrote his constantly expanding 'assays', inspired by the ideas he found in books contained in his library and from 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. But, above all, Montaigne studied himself as a way of drawing out his own inner nature and that of men and women in general. The Essays are among the most idiosyncratic and personal works in all literature and provide an engaging insight into a wise Renaissance mind, continuing to give pleasure and enlightenment to modern readers. With its extensive introduction and notes, M.A. Screech's edition of Montaigne is widely regarded as the most distinguished of recent times. Michel de Montaigne (1533-1586) studied law and spent a number of years working as a counsellor before devoting his life to reading, writing and reflection. If you enjoyed The Complete Essays, you might like Francois Rabelais's Gargantua and Pantagruel, also available in Penguin Classics. 'Screech's fine version ... must surely serve as the definitive English Montaigne' A.C. Grayling, Financial Times 'A superb edition' Nicholas Wollaston, Observer
Born in 1533, 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. Dr M.A. Screech is regarded as the world's greatest authority on Montaigne.