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Literary and Philosophical Essays: French, German and Italian   By: (1533-1592)

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David Turner, Charles Franks and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.

LITERARY AND PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAYS

HARVARD CLASSICS V32

CONTENTS

THAT WE SHOULD NOT JUDGE OF OUR HAPPINESS UNTIL AFTER OUR DEATH THAT TO PHILOSOPHISE IS TO LEARNE How TO DIE OF THE INSTITUTION AND EDUCATION OF CHILDREN OF FRIENDSHIP OF BOOKES BY MONTAIGNE

MONTAIGNE

WHAT IS A CLASSIC? BY CHASLES AUGUSTIN SAINTE BEUVE

THE POETRY OF THE CELTIC RACES BY ERNEST RENAN

THE EDUCATION OF THE HUMAN RACE BY GOTTHOLD EPHRAIM LESSING

LETTERS UPON THE AESTHETIC EDUCATION OF MAN BY J. C. FRIEDRICH VON SCHILLER

FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES OF THE METAPHYSIC OF MORALS

TRANSITION FROM POPULAR MORAL PHILOSOPHY TO THE METAPHYSIC OF MORALS

IMMANUEL KANT

BYRON AND GOETHE BY GIUSEPPE MAZZINI

INTRODUCTORY NOTE

Michel Eyquem De Montaigne, the founder of the modern Essay, was born February 28, 1533, at the chateau of Montaigne in Pirigord. He came of a family of wealthy merchants of Bordeaux, and was educated at the College de Guyenne, where he had among his teachers the great Scottish Latinist, George Buchanan. Later he studied law, and held various public offices; but at the age of thirty eight he retired to his estates, where he lived apart from the civil wars of the time, and devoted himself to study and thought. While he was traveling in Germany and Italy, in 1580 81, he was elected mayor of Bordeaux, and this office he filled for four years. He married in 1565, and had six daughters, only one of whom grew up. The first two books of his "Essays" appeared in 1580; the third in 1588; and four years later he died.

These are the main external facts of Montaigne's life: of the man himself the portrait is to be found in his book. "It is myself I portray," he declares; and there is nowhere in literature a volume of self revelation surpassing his in charm and candor. He is frankly egotistical, yet modest and unpretentious; profoundly wise, yet constantly protesting his ignorance; learned, yet careless, forgetful, and inconsistent. His themes are as wide and varied as his observation of human life, and he has written the finest eulogy of friendship the world has known. Bacon, who knew his book and borrowed from it, wrote on the same subject; and the contrast of the essays is the true reflection of the contrast between the personalities of their authors.

Shortly after Montaigne's death the "Essays" were translated into English by John Florio, with less than exact accuracy, but in a style so full of the flavor of the age that we still read Montaigne in the version which Shakespeare knew. The group of examples here printed exhibits the author in a variety of moods, easy, serious, and, in the essay on "Friendship," as nearly impassioned as his philosophy ever allowed him to become.

Reader, be here a well meaning Booke. It doth at the firth entrance forewarne thee, that in contriving the same I have proposed unto my selfe no other than a familiar and private end: I have no respect or consideration at all, either to thy service, or to my glory: my forces are not capable of any such desseigne. I have vowed the same to the particular commodity of my kinsfolks and friends: to the end, that losing me (which they are likely to doe ere long), they may therein find some lineaments of my conditions and humours, and by that meanes reserve more whole, and more lively foster the knowledge and acquaintance they have had of me. Had my intention beene to forestal and purchase the world's opinion and favour, I would surely have adorned myselfe more quaintly, or kept a more grave and solemne march. I desire therein to be delineated in mine owne genuine, simple and ordinarie fashion, without contention, art or study; for it is myself e I pourtray. My imperfections shall therein be read to the life, and my naturall forme discerned, so farre forth as publike reverence hath permitted me. For if my fortune had beene to have lived among those nations which yet are said to live under the sweet liberty of Nature's first and uncorrupted lawes, I assure thee, I would most willingly have pourtrayed my selfe fully and naked... Continue reading book >>




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