Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Lesser Conversation

A few weeks back I was talking with my dad about our various e-readers. I mentioned to him that one of the overlooked positive things about them is that they bring classic works to the reader for free. Virtually everything written before the 20th century, certainly all of the important works, have been converted into free text by Project Gutenberg and others. One of the first things that a new Kindle user finds is that there is a multitude of free stuff out there and most of it falls into this category.
I happened to mention the book series 'The Great Books of the Western World'. This is a set of books published way back in 1952. It includes all the major works that make up the foundation of Western civilization. The early heavies like Homer and Plato all the way up to Dostoevsky and Freud. Everything up through the 19th century. All of this is now free, I said. Everything except the introductory book called 'The Great Conversation' and a two volume indexy type thing called the 'Syntopicon' (which my dad calls a thesis generator).
We had this set in our house while I was growing up and some time after I moved out I asked to have them. I've pecked at them a bit but never really attacked them. After I talked with my dad I picked up the introduction, maybe for the first time, and started to look through it. Much to my surprise I came across a ten year reading plan.
Well, it's tough for me to resist a well put together reading list. And I don't intend to resist this one either. This plan is designed to lead one through the great works of history, touching on each of the listed authors. It consists of 18 pieces per year. They say that it has a steadily increasing difficulty level.

At the beginning of the next year, Jan 1st, 2012, I intend to start the plan. Frankly I'm excited.

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