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Montaigne's Library
October 11, 2012 10:58 AM   Subscribe

On the day he turned thirty-eight, Michel Eyquem de Montaigne retired from public life to the tower of the Château de Montaigne, there to spend the next ten years composing an assay of his life's experience. That his mind might thrive, he turned the tower into a "Solitarium" and its top floor into a sumptuous library, lining its round walls with some 1,500 books. Even the roof beams were made to bear his thoughts: on them he inscribed 46 quotations, here collected and translated.
posted by Iridic (22 comments total) 64 users marked this as a favorite

 
METAFILTER: ΠΑΝΤΙ ΛΟΓΩ ΑΟΓΟΣ ΙΣΟΣ ΑΝΤΙΚΕΙΤΑΙ

(Trans.: To every opinion an opinion of equal weight is opposed.)
posted by wenestvedt at 11:04 AM on October 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


Thank you Iridic. I can't wait to read his Essais. Oh and eBooks over at gutenberg.org
posted by casual observer at 11:27 AM on October 11, 2012


I applied my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom concerning all that is done under the sky. It is a heavy burden that God has given to the sons of men to be afflicted with.

Pretty much, yes.
posted by boo_radley at 11:30 AM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I turn 38 in two months and a day. If you folks could build me a Solitairium, I promise I'd find a way to retire.

The juxtaposition of the quotes What inanity is everything! and
I am Human, let nothing human be foreign to me. actually speaks to me quite a bit, even though the former is translated differently in the final link, which makes it not quite the same.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:47 AM on October 11, 2012


I can't recommend the Gutenburg translation; it's clunky and hard work. The recent translation into English by M. A. Screech that Penguin put out is much more accessible for modern readers.
posted by The River Ivel at 11:55 AM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Bloody hipsters ...
posted by scruss at 11:59 AM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Too bad the poor guy didn't have an Internet connection.
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:00 PM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'll throw in a recommendation for Donald Frame's great translation, possibly the "standard" translation of the Essais. Or you could go back to the version that Will Shakespeare may have read, that done by John Florio (who perhaps was "Shakespeare", according to some).

At one point, I started researching and printing out articles that explained the various historical and literary references that Montaigne makes, beginning with the first essay. I quickly ran out of paper.
posted by the sobsister at 12:05 PM on October 11, 2012


It's like a physically manifest WTIIF.
posted by kagredon at 12:09 PM on October 11, 2012


kagredon: "It's like a physically manifest WTIIF."

This is a crummy way to append to an ask thread, but Raymond Chen's old new thing ought to be on that list.
posted by boo_radley at 12:21 PM on October 11, 2012


Hero
...that is all.
posted by incandissonance at 12:27 PM on October 11, 2012


Kenneth Rexroth's essay on Montaigne.
posted by Bureau of Public Secrets at 12:31 PM on October 11, 2012


This is a crummy way to append to an ask thread, but Raymond Chen's old new thing ought to be on that list.

The first thing I thought of was Atomic Rockets.
posted by adamdschneider at 12:47 PM on October 11, 2012


I read the Screech translation in college and thought it was quite good. Of Cannibals is hands-down the best of the lot.
posted by Lutoslawski at 1:49 PM on October 11, 2012


Introvert heaven
posted by glasseyes at 1:50 PM on October 11, 2012


This article points out that Montaigne's library no longer contains any books and includes links to photos of the room and the rafters.
posted by larrybob at 2:02 PM on October 11, 2012


Are bloggers really Montaigne's modern day successors, as everyone keeps saying? Most are so empty they might well be the anti-Montaignes.

Montaigne exemplifies how a mind in solitary contemplation is still the subtlest instrument of self-insight, a single proper sounding of which is superior to any number of sweeps through the tides of crowdsourced scrambled information bits.

Though that doesn't stop me from wasting time on the web. I second Frame for a translation.
posted by shivohum at 2:15 PM on October 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Are bloggers really Montaigne's modern day successors, as everyone keeps saying?

I've never heard anyone anywhere say that, but bear with me:

Montaigne is one guy, who we remember today presumably because he was the very very best of his time at essayin' and philosophizin'.

So a much more logical question would be, "Is the very best blogger on the internet really Montaigne's modern day successor?" So... maybe?
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:27 PM on October 11, 2012


I'm aware that I'm literally a day late and a dollar short... but for a guy to seclude himself from the world, reading books that were written by other people, in order to document his own mind, is... tragically flawed logic.

The end result might be a wonderful product, and I don't want to discount his contributions to the world in any way... but after reading everything in that round room sixteen paces in diameter... he's less likely to extrapolate his own thoughts in his own words than he is some combination of somebody elses.
posted by Blue_Villain at 4:33 AM on October 12, 2012


> The end result might be a wonderful product, and I don't want to discount his contributions to the world in any way... but after reading everything in that round room sixteen paces in diameter... he's less likely to extrapolate his own thoughts in his own words than he is some combination of somebody elses.

He didn't just carve quotes into wooden beams like some angsty teenager. While his Essays are packed with quotes I don't think you can deny that he has his own words and point of view.
posted by bjrn at 7:37 AM on October 12, 2012


I live not too far from Montaigne's tower and have visited a couple of times. It's a little disappointing to be honest.
posted by Lezzles at 8:05 AM on October 12, 2012


Who Was The World's First Blogger?
posted by homunculus at 5:49 PM on November 9, 2012


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