How to Live

How to Live : Or a Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer

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Winner of the 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award for Biography How to get along with people, how to deal with violence, how to adjust to losing someone you love such questions arise in most people s lives. They are all versions of a bigger question: how do you live? How do you do the good or honorable thing, while flourishing and feeling happy? This question obsessed Renaissance writers, none more than Michel Eyquem de Monatigne, perhaps the first truly modern individual. A nobleman, public official and wine-grower, he wrote free-roaming explorations of his thought and experience, unlike anything written before. He called them essays, meaning attempts or tries. Into them, he put whatever was in his head: his tastes in wine and food, his childhood memories, the way his dog s ears twitched when it was dreaming, as well as the appalling events of the religious civil wars raging around him. The Essays was an instant bestseller and, over four hundred years later, Montaigne s honesty and charm still draw people to him. Readers come in search of companionship, wisdom and entertainment and in search of themselves. This book, a spirited and singular biography, relates the story of his life by way of the questions he posed and the answers he explored. It traces his bizarre upbringing, youthful career and sexual adventures, his travels, and his friendships with the scholar and poet Etienne de La Boetie and with his adopted daughter, Marie de Gournay. And we also meet his readers who for centuries have found in Montaigne an inexhaustible source of answers to the haunting question, how to live? "show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 400 pages
  • 160.02 x 228.6 x 43.18mm | 635.03g
  • Other Press (NY)
  • New York, NY, United Kingdom
  • English
  • New.
  • 1590514254
  • 9781590514252
  • 93,430

About Sarah Bakewell

Sarah Bakewell was a curator of early printed books at the Wellcome Library before becoming a full-time writer, publishing her highly acclaimed biographies The Smart and The English Dane. She lives in London, where she teaches creative writing at City University and catalogues rare book collections for the National more

Review quote

“Lively and fascinating . . . "How To Live" takes its place as the most enjoyable introduction to Montaigne in the English language.” "—The Times Literary Supplement   "“Splendidly conceived and exquisitely written . . . enormously absorbing.” "—Sunday Times   "“"How to Live" will delight and illuminate.”" —The Independent   "“A bright, genial, and generous introduction to the master’s methods.” "—Kirkus Reviews   "“[Bakewell reveals] one of literature's enduring figures as an idiosyncratic, humane, and surprisingly modern force.”—"Publisher’s Weekly (starred)   "“It is ultimately [Montaigne’s] life-loving vivacity that Bakewell succeeds in communicating to her readers.” "—The Observer   "“This subtle and surprising book manages the trick of conversing in a frank and friendly manner with itshow more

Rating details

3,963 ratings
4.1 out of 5 stars
5 38% (1,501)
4 40% (1,581)
3 18% (701)
2 4% (140)
1 1% (40)
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