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  • 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 brings you the works of the great thinkers, pioneers, radicals and visionaries whose ideas shook civilization, and helped make us who we are.

    Michel de Montaigne was the originator of the modern essay form; in these diverse pieces he expresses his views on relationships, 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.

  • No one characteristic clasps us purely and universally in its embrace.

  • Blending intellectual speculation with anecdote and personal reflection, the Renaissance thinker and writer Montaigne pioneered the modern essay. This selection contains 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.

    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 brings you the works of the great thinkers, pioneers, radicals and visionaries whose ideas shook civilization and helped make us who we are.

  • 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.

  • An Apology for Raymond Sebond is widely regarded as the greatest of Montaigne's essays: a supremely eloquent expression of Christian scepticism. An empassioned defence of Sebond's fifteenth-century treatise on natural theology, it was inspired by the deep crisis of personal melancholy that followed the death of Montaigne's own father in 1568, and explores contemporary Christianity in prose that is witty and frequently damning. As he searches for the true meaning of faith, Montaigne is heavily critical of the arrogant tendency of mankind to create God in its own image, and offers his personal reflections on the true role of man, the need to eschew personal arrogance, and the vital importance of faith if we are to understand our place in the universe. Wise, perceptive and remarkably informed, this is one of the true masterpieces of the essay form.

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