|Publisher:||Random House Inc|
|Publish Date:||Oct 2010|
|Number of Pages:||389|
|Shipping Weight (in pounds):||1.45|
|Product in Inches (L x W x H):||6.25 x 9.25 x 1.75|
At the beginning of this delightful book about Michel de Montaigne (1533-92), British author Bakewell (The English Dane) notes that Montaigne's essays "rarely offer to explain or teach anything". There's no moralizing. He wrote about how to live, not how one should live, unlike, for example, Francis Bacon, whose essays are from the same period. Using the question "How to live" as her framework, Bakewell gives us not only a biography of Montaigne but an exploration of the themes of his essays, a history of reaction to them both negative (e.g., Rene Descartes, Blaise Pascal, T.S. Eliot) and positive (e.g., Denis Diderot, Stefan Zweig, Virginia Woolf), and their implications and value for us today.
Verdict: This is a rich book, both because of its subject and because Bakewell has a wondrous way with words. It's an exceptionally readable explication of serious ideas, drawn from a man whom we could all benefit from knowing better. Readers who have appreciated Alain de Botton's popular excursions into philosophy, e.g., How Proust Can Change Your Life, will love this book as well.
-David Keymer, Modesto, CA
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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