November 16, 2010

10 Books Everyone Should Read

In one of my lectures - Canada and The American South - we were talking about the Northwest Ordinance.  To explain it briefly, this Ordinance was passed by Congress in 1787, among other things, establishing the Ohio River as a natural border between the free states and the slave states. 

We cover literature dealing with slavery. In this particular context,  slaves trying to escape to the free states, the Ohio River was the symbolic River Jordan (you know, the ten-commandments-Moses leading the Hebrews to the Promised Land. To get there, they had to cross the river Jordan ) So anyone with an inkling knows its a biblical reference.  Apparently, many do not know this, at least not in our class. This led the esteemed Professor Zacharasiewicz to an anecdote about Stanford University and the value of mandatory reading of various "classics". 

Back in the early 90's, it was a requirement for all students to read or have read the true Classics: the Bible, the Illiad, the Odyssey, Dante's Divine Comedy, Plato's something or other, Socrates, Chaucer's Canterbury Tales and a few others - ten in total. The object of the whole exercise is, by having a basic knowledge of the content, to gain a greater appreciation and insight to all subsequent literary works.  

The list itself was controversial and I'm sure there are more opinions about which books should be considered worthy enough as the pillars of classicism than there are books. 

Now, the above was a rather long-winded way of saying I am going to start reading these books. I've read some, in parts, obviously. I'm not a complete philistine.  It's just; they are all so damn long.  Bloody hell.

I shall post a complete list soon. And not only post the list, but read the books on the list. That's the whole objective.

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