The Complete Essays

The Complete Essays

Written by:
Translated by:

Additional Formats
  • Hardcover
  • ISBN 9780141389646
  • 464 Pages
  • Penguin Classics
  • Adult


Blending intellectual speculation with anecdote and personal reflection, the Renaissance thinker and writer Michel de Montaigne pioneered the modern essay form. This edition contains all of his idiosyncratic and timeless writings on subjects as varied as the virtues of solitude, the power of the imagination, the pleasures of reading, the importance of sleep and why we sometimes laugh and cry at the same things. Montaigne’s complete Essays, translated by M. A. Screech, are presented here as a beautifully produced, desirable collector’s edition. This oversize volume is printed in two-colour, bound in high-quality rich blue cloth and embellished with gold foil stamped into the design. Michel Eyquem, Seigneur de Montaigne, was born in 1533. He was brought up to speak Latin as his mother tongue and always retained a Latin turn of mind; though he knew Greek, he preferred to use translations. In 1569 he published his French version of the Natural Theology of Raymond Sebond; his Apology is only partly a defence of Sebond and sets sceptical limits to human reasoning about God, man and nature. He retired in 1571 to his lands at Montaigne, devoting himself to reading and reflection and composing his Essays (first version 1580). He loathed the fanaticism and cruelties of the religious wars of the period , but sided with Catholic orthodoxy and legitimate monarchy. He died at Montaigne in 1592 while preparing the final, and richest, edition of his Essays. M. A. Screech is an Emeritus Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford. He is recognised as a world authority on the Renaissance, especially for his studies on Rabelais, Erasmus and Montaigne. His translation of Montaigne was immediately welcomed for its discrete learning and elegance. In recognition of his achievements the French Republic made him a Chevalier dans l’Ordre national du Mérite and then a Chevalier dans la Légion d’ Honneur.
The Complete Essays

The Complete Essays

Written by: Michel de Montaigne, Translated by: M. A. Screech

Table of Contents

The Complete EssaysIntroduction
Note on the Text
The Annotations
Note on the Translation
Explanation of the Symbols
To the Reader
Book I
1. We reach the same end by discrepant means
2. On sadness
3. Our emotions get carried away beyond us
4. How the soul discharges its emotions against false objects when lacking real ones
5. Whether the governor of a besieged fortress should go out and parley
6. The hour of parleying is dangerous
7. That our deeds are judged by the intention
8. On idleness
9. On liars
10. On a ready or hesitant delivery
11. On prognostications
12. On constancy
13. Ceremonial at the meeting of kings
14. That the taste of good and evil things depends in large part on the opinion we have of them
15. One is punished for stubbornly defending a fort without good reason
16. On punishing cowardice
17. The doings of certain ambassadors
18. On fear
19. That we should not be deemed happy till after our death
20. To philosophize is to learn how to die
21. On the power of the imagination
22. One man’s profit is another man’s loss
23. On habit: and on never easily changing a traditional law
24. Same design: differing outcomes
25. On schoolmasters’ learning
26. On educating children
27. That it is madness to judge the true and the false from our own capacities
28. On affectionate relationships
29. Nine and twenty sonnets of Estienne de La Boëtie
30. On moderation
31. On the Cannibals
32. Judgements on God’s ordinances must be embarked upon with prudence
33. On fleeing from pleasures at the cost of one’s life
34. Fortune is often found in Reason’s train
35. Something lacking in our civil administrations
36. On the custom of wearing clothing
37. On Cato the Younger
38. How we weep and laugh at the same thing
39. On solitude
40. Reflections upon Cicero
41. On not sharing one’s fame
42. On the inequality there is between us
43. On sumptuary laws
44. On sleep
45. On the Battle of Dreux
46. On names
47. On the uncertainty of our judgement
48. On war-horses
49. On ancient customs
50. On Democritus and Heraclitus
51. On the vanity of words
52. On the frugality of the Ancients
53. On one of Caesar’s sayings
54. On vain cunning devices
55. On smells
56. On prayer
57. On the length of life

Book II
1. On the inconstancy of our actions
2. On drunkenness
3. A custom of the Isle of Cea
4. “Work can wait till tomorrow”
5. On conscience
6. On practice
7. On rewards for honour
8. On the affection of fathers for their children
9. On the armour of the Parthians
10. On books
11. On cruelty
12. An apology for Raymond Sebond
13. On judging someone else’s death
14. How our mind tangles itself up
15. That difficulty increases desire
16. On glory
17. On presumption
18. On giving the lie
19. On freedom of conscience
20. We can savour nothing pure
21. Against indolence
22. On riding “in post”
23. On bad means to a good end
24. On the greatness of Rome
25. On not pretending to be ill
26. On thumbs
27. On cowardice, the mother of cruelty
28. There is a season for everything
29. On virtue
30. On a monster-child
31. On anger
32. In defence of Seneca and Plutarch
33. The tale of Spurina
34. Observations on Julius Caesar’s methods of waging war
35. On three good wives
36. On the most excellent of men
37. On the resemblance of children to their fathers

Book III
1. On the useful and the honourable
2. On repenting
3. On three kinds of social intercourse
4. On diversion
5. On some lines of Virgil
6. On coaches
7. On high rank as a disadvantage
8. On the art of conversation
9. On vanity
10. On restraining your will
11. On the lame
12. On physiognomy
13. On experience