The Great Books: A Journey through 2,500 Years of the West's Classic Literature

Overview

Anyone Can Read the Great Books . . . with a Little Help 

An illuminating, learned, well-written, and entertaining survey of the giants of world literature. Busy people, and especially the young, will be grateful for this useful and concise introduction.” —Paul Johnson
 
Not simply a grand work of reference, The Great Books is a ...

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Overview

Anyone Can Read the Great Books . . . with a Little Help 

An illuminating, learned, well-written, and entertaining survey of the giants of world literature. Busy people, and especially the young, will be grateful for this useful and concise introduction.” —Paul Johnson
 
Not simply a grand work of reference, The Great Books is a captivating journey through two-and-a-half millennia of the great Western tradition.
 
The eminent British philosopher Anthony O’Hear is our capable tour guide, taking readers on an exhilarating tour through 2,500 years of books as powerful, thrilling, erotic, politically astute, and awe-inspiring as any modern bestseller.
 
The Great Booksis a fascinating narrative that encompasses history, myth, art, music, theater, and more. O’Hear sweeps us along from Homer’s Iliad to Goethe’s Faust, covering much ground in between. In Homer’s poems of epic struggle we discover not only the fascination and pleasure we can derive, but also why these works became the fountainhead of Western literature. From Greek tragedy we feel the power of the ancient myths, while from Plato’s Death of Socrates we see what may have killed off the tragic spirit. In Virgil’s Aeneid we ponder the close connections to—and puzzling contrasts with—Homer; in Dante’s terrifying and sublime Divine Comedy we encounter Virgil once again, this time as mentor and guide through Hell; and in Milton’s phantasmagoric Paradise Lost we find the Christian story given epic shape and power. And of course, in Shakespeare we experience the great dramatist’s particular and incomparable genius.
 
There is much more beyond—from Ovid and Augustine to Chaucer and Cervantes, Pascal and Racine. The Great Books is a spirited and enlightening guide to the great works of the Western tradition, shot through with a love of literature and the author’s deeply held belief in its power to enrich and enliven everyone’s world.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

O'Hear (philosophy, Univ. of Buckingham; director, Royal Inst. of Philosophy) offers much enthusiasm for, clear summaries of, and moderate insight into 19 of the significant canonical works of Western literature, beginning with The Iliad and The Odyssey and ending with Goethe's Faust. Citing with approval philosopher David Hume's remark that the same Homer who pleased in Athens and Rome still pleases in London and Paris, O'Hear assumes an ahistorical stance, passing over historical contexts and the vast secondary literature. He defines the great books as possessing an objective significance that goes beyond individual and subjective interpretation. The point is not what we feel about the work or how we make it conform to us but how we are transformed by it. His readings are clear and his writing fluent, but his discussions do not go far beyond plot summaries. Recommended only for public libraries.
—T.L. Cooksey

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781610170260
  • Publisher: ISI Books
  • Publication date: 9/20/2011
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 1,438,717
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Anthony O’Hear is a professor of philosophy at the University of Buckingham in England, the director of the Royal Institute of Philosophy (London), and the editor of the journal Philosophy. His books include Karl Popper, An Introduction to the Philosophy of Science, After Progress, and Plato’s Children. He has contributed to all the major national newspapers in Britain, where he is a frequent guest on many national radio and television programs.

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