Sunday, July 16, 2006

Reading the Classics

Reading classic literature is one excellent way to educate oneself. A favorite site on the internet is Great Books and Classics. The page I have linked to isn't the home page, but it is the page where you start choosing time periods and authors. They have a lot of classic literature that you can read online without having to purchase the books, although if you are like me, you still like to hold a book in your hands and have pages to turn and to write on. This website lets you find out if you like the book before you buy a copy.

These types of books introduce you to thoughts and ideas that live in our culture and upon which later books and essays have been built. Philosopher Mortimer Adler said that it was like a conversation. I don't have his exact quote at hand, but the idea he wanted to convey was that writers, even those separated by decades or centuries, could reply to those who had written before them. The later writers could agree or disagree or both. They could flesh out the earlier ideas. It's an engaging thought, isn't it?

No one can read all of these great books--there isn't enough time. We can, however, sample some of them and look for ones with topics that interest us. It's fascinating to read the writings of those who lived hundreds or even thousands of years ago. There are some timeless ideas in those books--ideas about truth and beauty and reality and human nature.

My particular interests are in Early Christian history and Medieval history and literature, although I want to sample other writings, especially those about books and education and what people studied. What are some of your favorite books or time periods or authors?



At 11:30 PM, Blogger ambarwarrior said...

I also love early Christian history. I am also fascinated by the "dark ages" the time right after the Roman Empire "fell".

At 1:16 PM, Blogger Mary A said...

Wow! My first comment on my new blog! Thanks, NMW!

A friend of mine got me to reading about early Christian history and the more I read, the more interested I became. I got hooked on medieval history when I read a couple of mystery series (the Dame Frevisse series by Margaret Frazier and the Brother Cadfael series by Ellis Peters). I started reading histories of the time and it went from there. Pretty interesting stuff. Lots more going on than one might expect.


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