How to Live

Or a Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer

By Sarah Bakewell
(Other Press (NY), Hardcover, 9781590514252, 400pp.)

Publication Date: October 19, 2010

List Price: $25.00*
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Selected by Indie Booksellers for the December 2010 Indie Next List
“Bakewell has written a thoroughly engaging look at the life and work of Michel de Montaigne, whose incessantly questioning approach to life is both remarkably modern and usefully instructive, even though he composed his famous essays more than 400 years ago.”
-- Dale Szczeblowski, Porter Square Books, Cambridge, MA


Description
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?



About the Author
Sarah Bakewell had a wandering childhood in Europe, Australia and England. After studying at the University of Essex, she 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 Trust.
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