Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Canon of Western Literature

1. I took a look at the complete canon of literature. It's interesting to check up on the list every ten years or so, and to see which books appear on / disappear from the list. It looks like Animal House has vanished this time around, while Herman Melville's non-Moby Dick works have reappeared.

2. It bugs me when the word "saint" is removed from a person's name, as is the case with Saint Thomas More. His Utopia is very much religiously motivated, as is Saint Augustine's Confessions. I mean, sure, you can read their works from a non-religious, humanist standpoint...but why would you want to?

3. It'd probably take at least fifty years to read the hundreds of books on the list. Even if you limit yourself to something like "the complete works of Shakespeare", it has the potential to become lengthy. Does anyone remember the time they decided that poetry can't be accurately translated? The list became a lot shorter when that happened.

4. I notice a distinct lack of Nancy Drew books on this list. Zero out of ten, would not recommend as a list of books that is necessary for people to read.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I agree with the saint thing. It annoys me when people call St. Joan of Arc just Joan of Arc, and treat her like a secular hero.

Lynn said...

Okay not bad I have ready about 20 things on this list. But it kind of surprised me to see so much poetry.