Monthly Archive: March 2015

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Heart of Darkness

Joseph Conrad, England.1902 Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski was born in 1857 in Warsaw in modern day Poland. He was born into an impoverished noble family where is father was a playwright and political activist. His father, Apollo Korzeniowski, fell afoul of the ruling Russian Tsarist authorities in 1861 when Josef was just four, and was arrested and exiled for his part in the organizing a popular uprising. The family was initially exiled to Russia then to Ukraine. The harsh climate eventually claimed the lives of Josef’s mother and father. By the age of 11 he was an orphan. But he...

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Utopia

Thomas More, England 1515 Due to the recent success of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall and its sequel Bring Up The Bodies, there has been a recent re-evaluation of Thomas More. Recent interpretations of More were coloured by Robert Bolt’s play and film A Man For All Seasons, where More is portrayed as the definitive man of conscience. More in refusing to endorse Henry VIII’s divorce of his wife, remains true to himself and unwavering in his beliefs and in doing so condemns himself to death. Mantel, on the other hand, portrays More as an intransigent ideologue, sanctimonious and ruthless, willing...

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The Hymn to Aphrodite

Sappho, Greece c.600 BCE Sappho was a Greek lyric poet born in Eressos on the island of Lesbos. She is most often associated with Mytilene, the capital city of Lesbos, and a major city even in the 7th century BCE. Most sources say she was born sometime between 630 BCE and 612 BCE, and it is said that she died around 570 BC. The bulk of her poetry has been lost, although her reputation has remained. Sappho was born into an aristocratic family, which is reflected in the sophistication of her language. Fragments of her work that remain make references...

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Other Lists – Great Books of the Western World – Mortimer Adler

“Great Books of the Western World” by Mortimer Adler The Syntopicon: An Index to the Great Ideas Angel to Love Man to World Homer. Iliad; Odyssey Aeschylus. Plays Sophocles. Plays Euripides. Plays Aristophanes. Plays Herodotus. History Thucydides. The History of the Peloponnesian War Plato: Dialogues; Seventh Letter Aristotle: Works Hippocrates. Hippocratic Writings Galen. On the Natural Faculties Euclid. Elements Archimedes. Works (including The Method) Nicomachus. Introduction to Arithmetic Lucretius. The Way Things Are Epictetus. Discourses Marcus Aurelius. The Meditations Plotinus. The Six Enneads Virgil: Eclogues. Georgics; Aeneid Plutarch. Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans Tacitus. Annals; Histories Ptolemy. Almagest...

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The Great Books List

The Great Books List — A progressive list of the Great Books The Ancient Era – 2000 BCE – 8BCE Unknown, Sumer, ca. 2000 BCE. The Epic of Gilgamesh. Unknown, Egypt, ca. 1000 BCE. Egyptian Book of the Dead. Homer, Greece, ca. 800 BCE. The Iliad, The Odyssey. Hesiod, Greece, ca. 700 BCE. Theogony. Unknown, Israel, ca. 800-200 BCE. Genesis, Exodus, Isaiah, Job. Unknown, India, ca. 800 BCE. The Rig Veda. Unknown, India, ca. 600 BCE. The Upanishads. Confucius, China, 551-479 BCE. The Analects. Lao Tzu, China, ca. 550 BCE. The Tao Te Ching. Sappho, Greece, ca. 600 BCE. Hymn to...

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The Handmaid’s Tale

Margaret Atwood, Canada.1985 Margaret Atwood is a prolific poet, novelist, literary critic, activist and writer whose works have found a worldwide audience beyond her native Canada. Atwood is a winner of the Booker Prize, Arthur C. Clarke Award and Prince of Asturias award for Literature, and has been a finalist for the Canadian Governor General’s Award seven times, winning twice. While her novels have garnered her global recognition, her poetry is also highly regarded and she has published a number of anthologies. Blending both feminist and mythological themes her novels, usually set in the past or near future often explore...

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The Journey to the West

Wu Cheng En, China. c 1590 Considered to be one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese Literature (along with The Romance of the Four Kingdoms, The Water Margin and The Dream of the Red Chamber), The Journey to the West was first published around 1590 by an anonymous author. Scholars have settled on the 16th century writer Wu Cheng En as the probable creator or assembler of the novel. In China, the novel is also called Monkey; a title that has been used for a number of film and television adaptations of the story. Very little is known...

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The Mabinogion

Unknown , Wales, c 1100 The Mabinogion is a collection of prose stories from medieval Welsh manuscripts. While the two main manuscripts from which the modern version of the Mabinogion derive, the White Book of Rhydderch (Llyfr Gwyn Rhydderch) and the Red Book of Hergest (Llyfr Coch Hergest) were written in the late 1300s, most scholars agree that the tales are older. Scholars have noted that the language of the stories best fits the period between 1000 and 1100. Dating the stories of the Mabinogion is important because if it can be shown to have been written before Geoffrey of...

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Things Fall Apart

Chinua Achebe, Nigeria.1958 Chinua Achebe is one of the founders of the new literature movement in Africa and many critics have come to consider him the finest Nigerian novelist of his generation. His achievements, however, have not been limited to his own country and he is considered by many to be one of the best novelists now writing in the English language. Albert Chinualumogu Achebe was born in 1930 in Ogidi, Nigeria. He attended Government College in Umuahia from 1944 to 1947 and University College in Ibadan from 1948 to 1953. In 1953 he left Nigeria to study in London...

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Other Lists — 100 Most Influential Books Seymour Smith

The Great Book list will also include a few of the other more notable great book lists. 100 Most Influential Books Ever Written By Martin Seymour Smith The I Ching The Old Testament The Iliad and The Odyssey by Homer The Upanishads The Way and Its Power, Lao-tzu The Avesta Analects, Confucius History of the Peloponnesian War, Thucydides Works, Hippocrates Works, Aristotle History, Herodotus The Republic, Plato Elements, Euclid The Dhammapada Aeneid, Virgil On the Nature of Reality, Lucretius Allegorical Expositions of the Holy Laws, Philo of Alexandria The New Testament Lives, Plutarch Annals, from the Death of the Divine...