Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Great Books List

A defense and the (inevitable) list.
In high school, the classical student actively engages with the ideas of the past and present — not just reading about them, but evaluating them, tracing their development, and comparing them to other philosophies and opinions.  This sounds abstract, but fortunately there’s a very practical way to engage in this conversation of ideas: Read, talk about, and write about the Great Books.
To some extent, the division between history and literature has always been artificial; we know about history from archaeology and anthropology, but our primary source of historical knowledge is the testimony of those who lived in the past.  Without the books written by Aristotle, Homer, Plato, Virgil, and Caesar, we would know very little about the politics, religion, culture, and ideals of Greece and Rome.
The study of Great Books allows the past to speak for itself, combining history, creative writing, philosophy, politics, and ethics into a seamless whole.  The goal of the rhetoric stage is a greater understanding of our own civilization, country, and place in time, stemming from an understanding of what has come before us.  “The old books,” writes classical schoolmaster David Hicks, “lay a foundation for all later learning and life.”  The student who has read Aristotle and Plato on human freedom, Thomas Jefferson on liberty, Frederick Douglass on slavery, and Martin Luther King on civil rights will read Toni Morrison’s Beloved with an understanding denied to the student who comes to the book without any knowledge of its roots.

 Remember again that the goal of the classical education is not an exhaustive exploration of great literature.  The student with a well-trained mind continues to read, think, and analyze long after classes have ended.

We have supplied lists of Great Books for each year of study; the ninth grade list is the shortest, the twelfth-grade list the most complex.  A few words about list-making:
1) The lists are flexible.  Depending on speed of reading and comprehension, the student might read eight titles, or fifteen, or thirty.  No one will read all the books listed.
2) If the student finds a title impossible to understand after he’s had a good try at it, let him move on.
3) The lists are primarily made up of books that date to each period under study in History; the dates of composition or publication follow in parentheses.  We’ve also included several excellent works of history covering the times under study.  These have no dates following them.
4) Read the titles in chronological order, as they appear on the lists.
5)  List making is a dangerous occupation.  We’ve left important books off this list.  We’ve put titles on it that you may find trivial.  You will encounter many, many lists of important books as you home school, made up by people of all different ideologies; and those lists inevitably reflect ideology.  You can always add or drop titles from our list.
Taken from:

Daniel’s Note: I have added and dropped titles based upon the content of my library, and added the “Before finishing Middle School” section, which is not chronological.
Before finishing Middle School
Aesop’s Fables
Mythology – Edith Hamilton
Grimm’s Fairy Tales
The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien
The Chronicles of Narnia – C.S. Lewis
Year 1 (or 9th grade): 5000 BC- AD 400
The Bible: Genesis, Job
Epic of Gilgamesh (c. 2500 BC)
The Iliad and The Odyssey, Homer (c. 850 BC)
History of the Persian Wars by Herodotus (485-424 BC)
History of the Peloponnesian War, Thucydides (460-395 BC)
Sophocles, Oedipus Rex (c. 440 BC)
Medea, Euripides (c. 431 BC)
Aristophanes, The Clouds –or- The Frogs (405 BC)
Republic, Symposium, Socrates’ Apology, Phaedo - Plato (c. 387 BC)
Poetics and Ethics, Aristotle (384-322 BC)
The Bible: The Book of Daniel (c. 165 BC)
On the Nature of Things, Lucretius (c. 60 BC)
On Duties, various orations Cicero (54 BC)
Gallic War, Julius Caesar (50s BC)
The Aeneid by Virgil (c. 30 BC)
Livy – The History
Metamorphoses by Ovid (c. 5)
Seneca - On Providence (1st Century AD)
The Bible: Paul, 1 & 2 Letters to the Corinthians (c. 58 AD)
The Wars of the Jews by Josephus (c. 68)
The Bible: The Gospel of John (c. 80s)
Letters of Pliny the Younger (c. 79-112)
The Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans, Plutarch (c.100)
Annals of Tacitus (c. 117)
Didache – (100s)
Meditations, Marcus Aurelius (170s)
On the Incarnation by Athanasius (c. 300)

Year 2: 400-1600
Augustine, Of True Religion, Confessions, and City of God, Books 8, 14, 19, 22 (c. 411)
The Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius (524)
The Koran (selections – Surah 1, 2, 5, 9, 14, 17, 24, 69) (c. 650)
Bede: Sermon (World’s Famous Orations); Caedman’s Story 
Rule of St. Benedict 
Beowulf (c. 1000) Bernard of Clairvaux – On Loving God (1100s)The Song of Roland (11th Century)Cur Deus Homo by Anselm (c. 1090)The Magna Carta (1215) Aquinas (Shorter Summa) (c. 1273)The Inferno, Dante (1320)Julian of Norwich (1300s)On the Imitation of Christ (c. 1400) – Thomas a’KempisGawain and the Green Knight (c. 1400)Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales (c. 1400)Malory, Le Morte d’Arthur (or “King Arthur and His Knights”)(1470)Education of a Christian Prince – Erasmus (1510)The Prince by Machiavelli (1513)Utopia by Thomas More (1516)Commentary on Galatians, Babylonian Captivity, 95 Theses; Luther (c. 1520)Institutes of the Christian Religion, Calvin (selections) (1536)'Faustus', Marlowe (1588) The Faerie Queene, Spenser (1590)Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity (selections) – Richard Hooker (1590s)Julius Caesar (1599), Hamlet (1600), other plays and sonnets,  Shakespeare
Year 3: 1600-1850
King James Bible – Psalms 4, 23, 24, 48, 90, 121, 122, 137; Beatitudes: Mt. 5:3-12 (1611)
‘Truth’, ‘Great Place’, ‘Negotiating’; Novum Organum, Francis Bacon (1620)
Select Songs and Sonnets; select Holy Sonnets, John Donne (c. 1635)
Discourse on Method and Meditations on First Philosophy, Rene Descartes (1644)
Leviathan (selections) Thomas Hobbes (1651)
Paradise Lost (possibly with “Paradise Regained”), Milton (1664)
Pensees, Pascal (1670)
Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan (1678)
“An Essay Concerning Human Understanding,” John Locke (1690)
Robinson Crusoe – Daniel DeFoe (1719)
Gulliver’s Travels, Swift (1726)
Alexander Pope – An Essay on Man
John Wesley – select sermons; An Address to the Clergy (1700s)
E. Burke, “On American Taxation,” (1774)
The Constitution of the United States And Select Writings of the Founding Fathers:
Rights of the Colonists as Men, Samuel Adams; Thomas Paine “Common Sense” (1776);
The Declaration of Independence (1776); The Federalist Papers, Hamilton
The Bill of Rights – Patrick Henry; Farewell Address – George Washington
Songs of Innocence and Experience, Blake (1789)
Lyrical Ballads, Wordsworth and Coleridge (1798)
Pride and Prejudice, Austen (1813)
Frankenstein, Mary Shelley (1818)
“Ode to a Nightingale” and other poems of Keats (1820s)
The Last of the Mohicans, Cooper (1826)
The Lady of Shalott; Charge of the Light Brigade, & poems of Tennyson (1832)
“The Fall of the House of Usher” “The Raven” and other stories of Poe   (1839)
de Tocqueville, Democracy in America (1840)
“Self-Reliance,” Emerson (1844)
Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte (1847)
Communist Manifesto, Marx & Engles or “The Great Towns”, Engles (1840s)
Great Expectations, Dickens OR “Visit to Newgate” & A Christmas Carol (1843)

Year 4: 1850-present day

Walden, Thoreau (1854)
On the Origin of Species & Descent of Man, Darwin (1859)
Apology Pro Vita Sua & Idea of a University by John Henry Newman
John Steward Mill (selections “On Liberty” & “Autobiography”)(1850s-70s)
Robert E. Lee’s “Maxims for Young Gentlemen” (1860s)
“House Divided,” “Debate with Douglas,” “Gettysburg Address,” Lincoln (1860s)
Dostoyevsky, The Grand Inquisitor OR Brothers Karamazov (1880)
Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson (1883)
Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Nietzsche (1883)
Huckleberry Finn, Twain (1884)
Selected Poems, W. B. Yeats (1895)
War of the Worlds, Wells (1898)
The Interpretation of Dreams, Freud (1900)
Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad (1902)
“The best of Father Brown,” & “Orthodoxy” Chesterton (1911)
Brave New World – Huxley (1932)
“Murder in the Cathedral,” and other selections T. S. Eliot (1935)
War in Heaven & Descent into Hell – Charles Williams (1937)
Of Mice and Men OR The Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck (1939)
The Once and Future King – T. H. White (1941)
‘1984’ OR Animal Farm; “Politics and the English Language”, Orwell
The Great Divorce, Lewis (1945)
Mere Christianity, Lewis (1952)
“The Crucible,” Arthur Miller (1953)
The Lord of the Rings – Tolkien (1954)
Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand (1957)
History of the English Speaking Peoples – Churchill (1958)
“A Man for All Seasons,” Bolt (1962)
Letter from Birmingham Jail, M. L. King Jr. (1964)
Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster (1978)
Amusing ourselves to death, Neil Postman (1985)