Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Great Books

My recent exploration of books that I read in High School has culminated in asking others what books have changed (or framed) their life (character, philosophy, values, political persuasion etc.).  I happened upon the Great Courses DVD series from the Teaching Company -  "Books That Have Made History: Books That Can Change Your Life" which is a series of 36 - thirty minute lectures by Professor J. Rufus Fears (Univ. of Okla.). 

Professor Rufus is very engaging and a great story teller.  Through his lectures introducing these books he organizes the stories thematically around eternal questions - Does God or do Gods exist? What is fate? What do we mean by good and evil? How should we live? 

What criteria does Professor Rufus use to determine a "Great Book"?  Simply he states a book is great "precisely because it challenges us to make value judgments -  ultimately, great books are an education for freedom."

What are your Great Books?  Would it be one of these thirty four?

1. Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers From Prison
2. Homer, Iliad
3. Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
4. Bhagavad Gita
5. Book of Exodus
6. Gospel of Mark
7. Koran
8. Gilgamesh
9. Beowulf
10. Book of Job
11. Aeschylus, Oresteia
12. Euripides, Bacchae
13. Plato, Phaedo
14. Dante, The Divine Comedy
15. Shakespeare, Othello, the Moor of Venice
16. Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound
17. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago
18. Shakespeare, Julius Caesar
19. George Orwell, 1984
20. Vergil, Aeneid
21. Pericles, Oration; Lincoln, Gettysburg Address
22. Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front
23. Confucius, The Analects
24. Machiavelli, The Prince
25. Plato, Republic
26. John Stuart Mill, On Liberty
27. Sir Thomas Malory, Morte d'Arthur
28. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust, Part 1
29. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust, Part 2
30. Henry David Thoreau, Walden
31. Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
32. Lord Acton, The History of Freedom
33. Cicero, On Moral Duties (De Officiis)
34. Gandhi, An Autobiography
35. Churchill, My Early Life; Painting as a Pastime; WWII
36. Lessons from the Great Books

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