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The works of the French essayist reflect his views of morality, society, and customs in the late sixteenth century
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. Dr M.A. Screech is regarded as the world's greatest authority on Montaigne.
From the 100-part Penguin Great Ideas series comes a rumination on relationships, courtesy of one of the most influential French Renaissance philosophers. Michel de Montaigne was the originator of the modern essay form; in these diverse pieces he expresses his views on friendship, contemplates the idea that man is no different from any animal, argues that all cultures should be respected, and attempts, by an exploration of himself, to understand the nature of humanity. Penguin Great Ideas: Throughout history, some books have changed the world. They have transformed the way we see ourselves—and each other. They have inspired debate, dissent, war, and revolution. They have enlightened, outraged, provoked, and comforted. They have enriched lives—and destroyed them. Now Penguin Great Ideas brings you the works of the great thinkers, pioneers, radicals, and visionaries whose ideas shook civilization and helped make us who we are. Other titles in the series include Niccolò Machiavelli's The Prince, Thomas Paine's Common Sense, and Charles Darwin's On Natural Selection.
Selections from Montaigne's essays are arranged to form a sort of autobiography
Michel de Montaigne, the inventor of the essay, has always been acknowledged as a great literary figure but has never been thought of as a philosophical original. This book treats Montaigne as a serious thinker in his own right, taking as its point of departure Montaigne's description of himself as 'an unpremeditated and accidental philosopher'. Whereas previous commentators have treated Montaigne's Essays as embodying a scepticism harking back to classical sources, Ann Hartle offers an account that reveals Montaigne's thought to be dialectical, transforming sceptical doubt into wonder at the most familiar aspects of life. This major reassessment of a much admired but also much underestimated thinker will interest a wide range of historians of philosophy as well as scholars in comparative literature, French studies and the history of ideas.

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