"I set forth a humble and inglorious life; that does not matter. You can tie up all moral philosophy with a common and private life just as well as with a life of richer stuff."
There is no equivalent of Montaigne in Marathi. Not just that, I guess, his essays have still not been translated into Marathi. What a pity!
P G Sahasrabuddhe (पु ग सहस्रबुद्धे) writes about Lokhitwadi's essays:
"...शुद्ध, प्रौढ, पल्लेदार, प्रवाही, ओघवती भाषा हे निबंधांचे मोठे वैभव असते. लोकहितवादींच्या शतपत्रांत त्याची फार उणीव आहे आणि ती पदोपदी भासते. व्याकरणशुद्ध भाषा लिहिण्याचीसुद्धा ते कसोशी करीत नाहीत…"
("... chaste, mature, strong, flowing language is the big wealth of essays. Lokhitwadi's essays lack it and that is constantly felt. He doesn't even attempt to write grammatically pure language...")
['Lokhitwadinchi Shatpatre' (लोकहितवादींची शतपत्रे), Edited by Dr. Pu G Sahasrabuddhe, 1960/2007]
Hence, Dr. Sahasrabuddhe says, Vishunshastri, Tilak (टिळक), Aagarkar (आगरकर), Rajwade (राजवाडे) were better essayists than him.
Marathi Vishwakosh (मराठी विश्वकोश) says Chiplunkar was influenced by Joseph Addison and Lord Macaulay. As we have seen on this blog earlier, Tilak/Agarkar were by J S Mill and Herbert Spencer.
For my taste, some of Rajwade's essays are among the best early essays written in Marathi. A few of them still remain very fresh and readable.
However, I feel none of the gentlemen mentioned above - British or Indian- comes close to the depth, width and literary qualities of Montaigne's work.
I have chosen two examples from the Frenchman's output.
Title of XIX essay in "The Essays of Montaigne" is "That To Study Philosophy Is to Learn To Die"
"Cicero says—[Tusc., i. 31.]—"that to study philosophy is nothing but to prepare one's self to die." The reason of which is, because study and contemplation do in some sort withdraw from us our soul, and employ it separately from the body, which is a kind of apprenticeship and a resemblance of death; or, else, because all the wisdom and reasoning in the world do in the end conclude in this point, to teach us not to fear to die..."
Now how to illustrate this?
Artist: Salvador Dali
(George Orwell writes about Dali's art: "Dead faces, skulls, corpses of animals occur fairly frequently in his pictures..." Montaingen's essay then was a good excuse to draw a skull!)
Look at the following picture. Happy couple? Man dealing too lasciviously with the woman?
Artist: Salvador Dalí
"A man, says Aristotle, must approach his wife with prudence and temperance, lest in dealing too lasciviously with her, the extreme pleasure make her exceed the bounds of reason. What he says upon the account of conscience, the physicians say upon the account of health: "that a pleasure excessively lascivious, voluptuous, and frequent, makes the seed too hot, and hinders conception": 'tis said, elsewhere, that to a languishing intercourse, as this naturally is, to supply it with a due and fruitful heat, a man must do it but seldom and at appreciable intervals:
I see no marriages where the conjugal compatibility sooner fails than those that we contract upon the account of beauty and amorous desires; there should be more solid and constant foundation, and they should proceed with greater circumspection; this furious ardour is worth nothing."
(Chapter V——'Upon Some Verses Of Virgil')
Look again at the picture above. Is the man Dali himself?
This is what Dali writes in his autobiography- "The Secret Life of Salvador Dalí", 1942- about his first meeting with his future wife, Gala:
" I threw back Gala's head, pulling it by the hair, and trembling with complete hysteria, I commanded:
Orwell adds: "He is somewhat disappointed by this demand, since it is merely what he wanted to do already. He contemplates throwing her off the bell-tower of the Cathedral of Toledo, but refrains from doing so."‘Now tell me what you want me to do with you! But tell me slowly, looking me in the eye, with the crudest, the most ferociously erotic words that can make both of us feel the greatest shame!’Then Gala, transforming the last glimmer of her expression of pleasure into the hard light of her own tyranny, answered:
‘I want you to kill me!’"
After reading this, the question that haunts me : "What happened next to the lady in the picture?