cover image Montaigne


Stefan Zweig, trans. from the German by Will Stone. Pushkin (, $16 paper (160p) ISBN 978-1-7822-7103-1

In the autumn of 1941, Zweig, a bestselling Austrian-Jewish novelist and biographer who had fled to Brazil to escape the Nazis, discovered a copy of Michel de Montaigne's Essays in a basement of his new house. Over the next few months—he committed suicide in February 1942—Zweig immersed himself in Essays and produced this little reflection on the 16th-century man of letters. Thanks to Stone's assiduous translation, Zweig's fascinating meditation on the writer in whom he saw himself mirrored appears now for the first time in English. Zweig weaves biographical elements into his study—Montaigne's study of Latin at age four, his retirement from his public duties as a French nobleman at age 38—but the book is more properly an introduction to an endlessly inquisitive thinker who never stopped searching for the truth. Zweig depicts Montaigne as trying throughout his life to "safeguard the deepest region of [his] spirit... from the danger of being sacrificed to the deranged prejudices of others." This captivating study portrays a writer whose life and work can be summed up by his constant posing of the question, "How should I live?" (Nov.)