The essays of Michel Eyquem de Montaigne, the 16th-century French philosopher, are an obvious addition to the Notting Hill Editions ‘Classic Collection’ due to the masterful balance of intellectual knowledge and personal story-telling conveyed in his writing. He popularised the genre of the essay form, coining the term from the French verb ‘essayer’, translated literally as attempts or trials. This selection is introduced by Tim Parks and is from the M A Creech translation. In this collection, Montaigne ponders the great and small questions of life and subjects as diverse as education, fear, reading and death. Throughout his essays he attempts to reach a deeper understanding of himself and, in so doing, he touches on the greater human condition. His natural curiosity for life shines through in his lively, at times rambling, pieces and the charm of his writing continues to captivate modern readers. Montaigne indicates a direction western thinking could have taken and alas didn’t.