A few of my summer reads have overlapped in the realms of history and philosophy. In the mix was Alain de Botton’s The Consolations of Philosophy. And there is consolation indeed in the words of long-dead men who could, but for their turn of phrase, be speaking today.
Montaigne won my heart a little, not least for these quotes which allowed me to imagine him dispensing advice and bile from a blog today.
“I am not prepared to bash my brains for anything, not even for learning’s sake, however precious it may be. From books all I seek is to give myself pleasure by an honourable pastime… If I come across difficult passages in my reading I never bite my nails over them: after making a charge or two I let them be… If one book wearies me I take up another.”
“There are more books on books than on any other subject: all we do is gloss each other. All is a-swarm with commentaries: of authors there is a dearth.”
“His introductory passages, his definitions, his sub-divisions and his etymologies eat up most of his work… If I spend an hour reading him (which is a lot for me) and then recall what pith and substance I have got out of him, most of the time I find nothing but wind.”