Few men are valued these days for their depth of humanity, breadth of education, or delicacy of manner. These days a book is judged by its cover!
Michel Eyquem de Montaigne was born near Bordeaux France, in 1533, the same year as the future Queen Elizabeth I of England. An aristocrat - he was born in the family chateau that would be his lifelong home. He was sent, soon after his birth to live with a humble family in a nearby village where he must have become accustomed to the Perigord dialect, thus Montaigne at once had the feeling of being a peasant amongst peasants. He was 'restored' to his family home at one or two years old but here he was immediately brought up as a native Latin speaker. A German called Dr.Horst was employed, who spoke good Latin and virtually no French, and a tutor, who had near flawless Latin. Everyone in the household was banned from speaking French to the boy, so the entire staff including his mother and father had to learn the Latin basics so that they could communicate with him. By the age of six Montaigne had a command of technically perfect and beautiful Latin. This was the Renaissance, and new theories of education thought that learning should be pleasurable so Montaigne didn't have to suffer the indignity of corporal punishment either, his father did not believe in it. Thus he grew up in a world unto himself, always maintaining that the experiment in his education was a huge success. His greatness and subsequent fame was to blossom into the 107 Essays that he wrote over a c20 year period. These can be read and reread at all times because they act as stimulant, tonic, reassurance, and a real pleasure to the mind!
As for Messrs Blair, Brown, and Mandelson, - 'In His Own Words, 'A Journey', 'Beyond the Crash', and 'The third man,' these are books that will sicken, torture, and depress the mind. Their arrogance, egotism, desire to sweeten and spin the past, their lust for money, is breathtaking. Set them alongside Montaigne and you have a man from a different world. Unfortunately we have to live in this world when the hooks, crooks, and fakes rule, and have influence over our lives, when a book is only ever judged by its cover.