This short book – a monograph, I suppose – was Zweig’s last, written just before he killed himself with his wife, in despair at the barbarism that was sweeping Europe in the 1940s. He was living in South America, having escaped there, and found an edition of Montaigne’s Essays in the basement of the house.

If you like Montaigne (I love him) it is an interesting assessment, focusing on his disillusionment with the violence and craziness of the religious politics of his day and his retreat to his tower to read and write. Zweig obviously sees parallels with is own situation and portrays Montaigne as a sort of internal exile.

It is very nicely written and rather poignant. It is published by Pushkin Press, who make a specialism of finding and republishing lost treasures. 

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