Title: Les Essais de Michel seigneur de Montaigne: ...
Publisher: Chez Augustin Courbé [Estienne], Paris
Publication Date: 1652
Book Condition: Very Good
Signed: Signed by Author(s)
Large folio (390 x 265mm). 840pp. Copper plate engraved printer’s device of Courbé, a single palm tree surrounded by putti, some trumpeting, in frame with motto in allusion to his name Curvata Resurgo (curved, I straighten up) signed by Daret. Title printed in red and black. Full-page copper engraved half title with author portrait of Michel de Montaigne, the same as the 1635 edition. Near contemporary calf, the spine tooled and lettered in gilt with raised bands; (worming and small dampstain to margin of last 100 pages not affecting text, other spotting and small stains, binding slightly rubbed with losses to spine tips, otherwise internally bright with clean wide margins). Large Paris folio edition of Montaigne’s moralist and political ‘Essais.’ This 1652 edition contains, beside the Essays, the long preface and dedication of de Gournay, the preface of Montaigne, a summary of his life, references to the authors in the margin, and translations of the passages quoted. These citations, often very lengthy, make the Essays not only one of the great philosophical investigations in the Western tradition, but a storehouse of the most beautiful and profound passages of classical literature. His citations from classical authors, including Lucretius are especially remarkable. The whole is preceded by a notice of Estienne, in which he details the improvements he has made in this edition, most notably by placing the translations opposite the text – the first time this arrangement was introduced. Estienne also allowed Courbé the privilege to use his name and device on the title for this edition only, although the work was printed on Estienne’s press. This same year Cousterout prints the work but uses the Estienne device. "I do not teach, I tell" – Montaigne Montaigne’s Essays are central to the development of the early modern consciousness of the self; his skepticism and proto-empiricism were highly influential upon early modern scientific enquiry, especially upon the works of Bacon. In the Essays, Montaigne transcends his skepticism and transforms his stoicism to offer a positive and urgent message to his contemporaries. This message constitutes a new ethics, one of goodness, fellowship and trust, all countering the model of heroic virtue, which dominated his culture and his class by honor-bound aristocrats and religious zealots alike. Directed principally to the nobility of a nation torn apart by civil and religious conflict, which forms the backdrop of the Essays, Montaigne’s message shuns violence and urges for a new civilizing process. His moral argument depicts extreme humanist aspirations toward radical and divisive individualism, in the name of a shared humanity. Canonical work in large format, attractive and good with Courbé’s device found less often. Bookseller Inventory # D8765
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