Monday, November 2, 2009

Essay: "Of the Art of Conversing" (2). Montaigne.

10-second review: Montaigne wanders all over the subject, using historical references and quotes, analogies and aphorisms.


“For how many foolish souls, in my time, has not a frigid and taciturn a demeanor served as a mark of wisdom and capability.”

“…being unable to make a blockhead wise, makes him successful….” [Success is a good substitute for being a blockhead. RayS. ]

“Most part of the things of this world work themselves out of their own accord.”

“If you will observe who are the most influential people in the cities, and who are most successful in business, you will usually find that they are the least talented.”

“It has fallen to the lot of women, of children and the madmen to rule great states equally well with the most able princes; and the gross-witted, according to Thucydides, are usually more successful than the clever.”

“…I confidently say that in every way, results are a poor testimony of our worth and ability.”

“My reason is not trained to bow and bend, it is only my knees.”

“We must not always grant it, whatever truth or beauty it may contain.”

“Every day I hear stupid people saying things that are not stupid.”

“They say a good thing; let us know how far they understand it.”

“Stupidity and a confused mind are not to be cured by a word of admonition.”

“Moreover, nothing exasperates me so much in a stupid person as that he is more self-satisfied than any reasonable person can reasonably be.”

“For I observe generally that men are as wide of the mark in judging their own work as in judging that of others.”

“It is twenty years since I have devoted a whole hour at a time to a book….”

“All generalizations are loose and imperfect.”

Great Essays. Ed. Houston Peterson. New York: Pocket Books, Inc. 1954.

What is an essay? “They are all prefaces. A preface is nothing but a talk with the reader; and they [essays] do nothing else.” Charles Lamb.

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