Press Release: Essays


Michel de Montaigne

Selected and Introduced by Sarah Bakewell
Translated by M. A. Screech

‘Screech’s fine version … must surely serve as the definitive English Montaigne’
a. c. grayling, financial times

Michel de Montaigne, often called ‘the first modern man’, was one of the most influential figures of the Renaissance, singlehandedly responsible for popularising the essay as a literary form. In 1571 he retired from ‘the slavery of the court and of public duties’, to his estates in order to devote himself to reflection, reading and writing. The result was twenty years of observations, collected into what he called ‘essais’, and an instant bestseller. The Folio Society has produced a fittingly stunning edition adorned in gold and leather, featuring an exclusive selection of his best essays by acclaimed Montaigne biographer Sarah Bakewell.

Bakewell has selected, and introduced, essays to represent the huge variety and originality of Montaigne’s work, from short, quirky pieces to longer investigations of sex, writing, friendship and education. In our exclusive selection you will find ‘On Fear’, ‘On the custom of wearing clothing’, ‘On Books’ as well as profound statements on ‘How our mind tangles itself up’ or ‘How the soul discharges its emotions against false objects when lacking real ones’. There is humour, contradiction and a humble acceptance of man’s lack of knowledge.

In her introduction exclusively for this edition, Bakewell aptly describes him as ‘a brilliant psychologist, but also a moral philosopher in the fullest sense of the word. He did not tell us what we should do, but explored what we actually do.’

Montaigne struck a chord not just with the French public but also his contemporaries abroad, such as Shakespeare (who quoted him in ‘The Tempest’), Descartes and Pascal. Montaigne’s appeal continues centuries later because we are all still concerned with the one over-arching question he sought to answer: how does one live?

Product information
Quarter-bound in blocked leather with blocked cloth sides. Set in Arno Pro with Dawnora Initials. 440 pages. Black & white frontispiece. Printed in two colours throughout. Ribbon marker. Printed endpapers. Gilded page edges. Cloth slipcase. 11˝ x 6¾˝

UK £120.00 US $195.00 Can $230.00 Aus $240.00






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