‘He who thinks freely for himself, honours all freedom on earth.’
Stefan Zweig was already an emigre-driven from a Europe torn apart by brutality and totalitarianism-when he found, in a damp cellar, a copy of Michel de Montaigne’s Essais. Montaigne would become Zweig’s last great occupation, helping him make sense of his own life and his obsessions-with personal freedom, with the sanctity of the individual. Through his writings on suicide, he would also, finally, lead Zweig to his death.
With the intense psychological acuity and elegant prose so characteristic of Zweig’s fiction, this account of Montaigne’s life asks how we ought to think, and how to live. It is an intense and wonderful insight into both subject and biographer.