Wednesday, August 24, 2005

A Little Montaigne

Montaigne, On Books, translated by M. A. Screech

I do not doubt that I happen to talk of things that are treated better in the writings of master-craftsmen, and with more authenticity. What you have here is purely an assay of my natural, not at all my acquired, abilities. Anyone who catches me out in ignorance does me no harm: I cannot vouch to other people for my reasonings: I can scarcely vouch for them to myself and am by no means satisfied with them. If anyone is looking for knowledge let him go where such fish are to be caught: there is nothing I lay claim to less. These are my own thoughts, by which I am striving to make known not matter but me. Perhaps, I shall master the matter one day; or perhaps I did so once when Fortune managed to bring me to places where light is thrown on it. But I no longer remember anything about that. I may be a man of fairly wide reading, but I retain nothing.

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