“A faithful translation is rare; a translation which preserves intact the original text is very rare; a perfect translation of Montaigne appears impossible. Yet Donald Frame has realized this feat. One does not seem to be reading a translation, so smooth and easy is the style; at each moment, one seems to be listening to Montaigne himself - the freshness of his ideas, the unexpected choice of words. Frame has kept everything.” (Andre Maurois, The New York Times Book Review)
©1958 Donald M. Frame (Translation) (P)2011 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
I do not advise making this your only book for a while. Download the essays chapter by chapter, listen to one here, one there. They are great contemplations, full of spice, and wonder, and charm, and folk stories. I am still greatly adoring to know that French school girls were told not to play hopscotch or their inner manhood equipment might fall out of their lady regions and they would be boys- wow! People were so inventive with their bullplop. Our quacks should take lessons, the crap our senators and health wonder pill spinsters come out with is so tedious and common by comparison! Montaigne is great to relax to, great to muse over, and the narrator simply feels like the man himself, conjured by seance. I cannot praise him highly enough. A masterful, perfect production from all sides and accounts. I have more to go through, and some of the essays are tedious or stray, but hey, the man invented the essay and this sort of book. Certainly something any ponderer or intelligent person should take time to peruse a little at the very least in their lifetime. Let's not make a dali lhama of Montaigne though. He was not a world-altering genius or anything. This will enrich your life, probably not change it.
A part-time buffoon and ersatz scholar specializing in BS, pedantry, schmaltz and cultural coprophagia.
For me the greatest approbation for a book I've just read is a simple declaration that this is a book I'll read again, and perhaps one that I'll read regularly. This is a desert island work for sure. It (for me) fits into the same mental shelf space as Marcus Aurelius' Meditations or Herodotus' The Histories or Adams' The Education of Henry Adams. Some pieces of nonfiction should probably be considered a type of humanist sacred-text. One more book I've got to grab if the house is on fire. One more book I will forever be buying extra copies of so I can fop them off on unprepared friends.
Meet yourself here.
In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust
Both are long, basically autobiographical works. Though Proust is writing a novel, and Montaigne essays (the form he is credited with initiating), both move through the lives, experiences and reflections of the writers referencing contemporary historical events and social environments. The books share a fearless intimacy relative to personal habits, tastes and psychological states as well as generalizations about the nature of humankind.
Surprising to me, both works are quite funny in parts.
Christopher Lane is an excellent reader. It's great to listen to the essays while doing menial tasks or relaxing at the end of the day.
An utter delight for fans of eight hour films
Experts seem to concur that Donald Frame's is the best English language translation.
As much as I have enjoyed so many audible titles, this is by far the best of all. I will always look back on 2012-13 as my year with Montaigne. I have every intention of picking up a copy of this work (in this translation) as a permanent fixture on my desk.
Montaigne and I may have some philosophical and thrological disagreements on details but he is the most pleasant of companions.
Throughout the work, Mr Lane allowed Montaigne speak through him
"A great way to enjoy a mammoth work"
Fascinating, resonating, amusing.
Essay after essay so much of what Montaigne writes is still relevant today and surprisingly easy to understand/relate to.
No - it is not the format for that, the individual essays are complete in themselves. You do want to hear the next intriguing view he has but also sometimes you pause to consider that particular thought before heading off to the next one. As a physical book it is something to dip into or it seems too intimidating - as an audio book you feel able to tackle the whole work comfortably!
"a singular experience"
Montaigne is a seminal French Renaissance essayist, so the content of this work is both influential but also, in its totality, rather esoteric. Having wanted for years to read the essays, but been daunted by the language and the length, I made the very good choice of listening to them instead, and by that means have been able to engage with them all. It remains something of a marathon because, unlike other long audio-books, there is no "story" to help you along and I did have to rely on systematic creation of bookmarks to ensure smooth progress without inadvertently skipping backwards or forwards.
That said, this is an excellent way to come to grips with and to enjoy Montaigne. Top marks to Christopher Lane who interprets faultlessly everything from erudite translations from Latin to the most graphic physical details, not forgetting all the footnotes. Top marks too to Donald Frame for such a comprehensible translation.
Aided by these two interpreters, Montaigne's work can afford you well over 45 hours of real interest, with only a very small percentage which is now beyond the non-specialist. The immediacy and freshness of his style, the pithiness of his comments, the details we get of his life and that of his family and his famed friend La Boetie, the copious illustration of philosophical precepts with lively, concrete examples, and much more, ensure that the Essays still speak directly to the reader/listener.
Listening to this audiobook is a serious undertaking but it is one which I very much value.
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