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Montaigne Lives Again

Autobiography of Montaigne. By Marvin Lowenthal; Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston. $3.50.

That urbane traveller and careful scholar, Marvin Lowenthal, has compiled a book, “The Autobiography of Michael De Montaigne,” that warrants a place in every serious library. He has pieced together an autobiography of the great French Renaissance skeptic from his writings, from his “Essays,” his “Journey,” “Letters,” and other of his lesser known works.

The result is a magnificent revelation of Montaigne, the man, his views and his life. “My book and I are one,” once wrote Montaigne and though he, of course, was not referring to Lowenthal’s work, he might well have.

Lowenthal’s book grew out of a project for a biography, but, midway in the process, he realized no biography could do justice to the man. Montaigne, from his ivory tower, had written of himself as no other man could. We thus have, thanks to Mr. Lowenthal, one of the great auto-biographies of all time, a book previously hidden and spread among the numerous writings of the Frenchman.

The book is prefaced by the following quotation from Montaigne: “I’ll gladly come back from the other world to give the lie to anyone who will shape me other than I was, even though to honor me.”

This, then, is to let Miguel De Montaigne know that he can rest in peace.

H. W. L.

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