|That's one big momma!|
Did I mention it was a sizable collection?
Thankfully, Susan Wise Bauer (The Well-Educated Mind) provides a suggested list of essays to read, which, according to Goodreads, amounts to 19.0% of the total 1283 pages. In the beginning, I was motivated to read additional essays of my choice, but that did not happen. I was grateful to get through the suggested essays. They were not bad or horrible; I just found myself longing for a good story in a story format with a happy ending. This was not that kind of book.
In any case, I did pick up some great quotes and remarks, and I did a lot of circling and underlining and drawing little stars and making little comments within the margins. Of the essays I read, the most marked up were: "On Sadness," "Our emotions get carried away beyond us," "To philosophize is to learn how to die," and "On the inconsistency of our actions."
The most commented on was "On educating children." I think I went back and forth between agreeing and disagreeing with the author. Montaigne includes this comment:
For those who want to learn, the obstacle can often be the authority of those who teach.
Our souls are moved only at second-hand, being shackled and constrained to what is desired by someone else's ideas; they are captives, enslaved to the authority of what they have been taught. We have been so subjected to leading-reins that we take no free steps on our own. Our drive to be free has been quenched.I wondered if the author would be a fan of child-directed education. Probably.
One of my favorite quotes was this one:
Truth for us nowadays is not what is, but what others can be brought to accept.But the OMG moment came from "On virtue." At the tale end of the essay, Montaigne says this:
The Assassins, who are a people dependent on Phoenicia, are considered by the Mahometans to be sovereignly devout and pure in morals. They hold that the surest way to merit paradise is to kill someone of an opposing religion. They therefore show contempt for all personal danger and are often to be found singly or in pairs, carrying out such profitable executions at the cost of their certain death, appearing before an enemy in the midst of his troops to 'assassinate' him-Montaigne wrote his Essays between 1570 - 1592, but that little bit could have been written for our own times. Eerie.
This title counts towards TWEM Biographies and The Classics Club.