“HE WHO FEARS HE SHALL SUFFER, ALREADY SUFFERS WHAT HE FEARS”: RARE FIRST EDITION IN ENGLISH OF MONTAIGNE'S THE ESSAYS
The Essayes or Morall, Politike, and Militarie Discourses of Lord Michael de Montaigne (Essays of Montaigne).
Montaigne, Michel de.$25,000.00
Item Number: 24090
London: Val. Sims for Edward Blount, 1603.
First edition in English of the author’s magnum opus and one of the most important philosophical books of Western civilization. Folio, contemporary brown leather with gilt arabesque centerpiece and monogram. Translated by John Florio. In very good condition with some browning to the page edges, two leaves of verses to Florio and errata in the preliminaries, and blank 2Q4; lacks one-word correction slip on B1r and second of 2 errata leaves at end. First editions in English are rare.
Montaigne's stated goal in his book is to describe man, and especially himself, with utter frankness and honesty ("bonne foi"). He finds the great variety and volatility of human nature to be its most basic features, which resonates to the Renaissance thought about the fragility of humans. According to the scholar Paul Oskar Kristeller, "the writers of the period were keenly aware of the miseries and ills of our earthly existence". A representative quote is "I have never seen a greater monster or miracle than myself." Harold Bloom noted that Montaigne “represents—not everyman… but very nearly every man who has the desire, ability, and opportunity to think and to read” (The Western Canon, 151). “Montaigne devised the essay from in which to express his personal convictions and private meditations, a form in which he can hardly be said to have been anticipated… He finds a place in the present canon, however, chiefly for his consummate representation of the enlightened skepticism of the 16th century, to which Bacon, Decartes and Newton were to provide the answers in the next” (PMM 95).