Friday, June 08, 2012

The Classics Club

Reading the Classics

In March 2012, Jillian at A Room of One's Own launched The Classics Club. Basically, the club is a place for classics readers and bloggers to find each other and discuss reading the classics.  The moment I found this club it appealed to me as a serious reader and one who loves reading classics, from Homer to Joyce and beyond.  However, I was not sure what books to include on my list,.  How many should be favorites to reread and how many should be new reads?  Should the list include contemporary literature as well as the ancients?

Then I found a guide to start with right on my shelf of literary reference works.
It is A Temple of Texts by William Gass and it will serve as my foundation for the first fifty on my list of classic books that will get me started in this new endeavor (as if I needed an excuse to read more books).  My goal is to complete this list within the next five years.

William Gass, with whom I was already acquainted through his novel Omensetter's Luck, has an essay, "A Temple of Texts" that recommends "Fifty Literary Pillars".  These will form my starting point for this endeavor.  Here they are in the order they appear in Gass's book:

1. Plato -  Timaeus
2. Aristotle -  Nicomachean Ethics
3. Thucydides -  History of the Peloponnesian War
4. Hobbes -  Leviathan
5. Kant, Immanuel - Critique of Pure Reason
6. Wittgenstein, Ludwig - Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus
7. Bachelard, Gaston - Poetics of Space
8. Coleridge, Samuel Taylor - Biographia Literaria
9.*  Hofmannsthal, Hugo Von - The Lord Chandos Letter
10. Malory, Sir Thomnas - Le Morte d'Arthur
11.* Milton, John - Paradise Lost
12. Sterne, Laurence - Tristram Shandy
13.* Woolf, Virginia - Mrs. Dalloway
14. Ford, Ford Madox - Parade's End
15. Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra
16. * Beckett, Samuel - Waiting for Godot
17. Joyce, James - Ulysses
18. Joyce, James - Finnegan's Wake
19. O'Brien, Flann - At Swim - Two Birds
20. Holderlin, Friedrich - Hymns
21. * Mann, Thomas - Joseph and His Brothers
22. Cortazar, Julio - Hopscotch
23. Borges, Jorge Luis - Labyrinths
24. Mann, Thomas - The Magic Mountain
25. Kafka, Franz - Collected Stories
26. Broch, Hermann, The Sleepwalkers
27.* Flaubert, Gustave - Madame Bovary
28. Flaubert, Gustave - Bouvard and Pecochet
29. Svevo, Italo - Zeno's Conscience
30. Stendahl -  The Red and The Black
31. Colette, Break of Day
32. Donne, John - Poems and Sermons
33.* More, Thomas - Utopia
34. Mallarme, Stephane - Un Coup de des
35. Pound, Ezra - Personae
36. Yeats, William Butler - The Tower
37. Stevens, Wallace - Harmonium
38.* James, Henry - The Ambassadors
39.*  Musil, Robert - The Man Without Qualities
40. Faulkner, William - The Sound and the Fury
41. Porter, Katherine Anne - Pale Horse, Pale Rider.
42. Stein, Gertrude - Three Lives
43. Gaddis, William - The Recognitions
44. Hawkes, John - The Lime Twig
45. Rilke, Rainer Maria - The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge
46* The Book of Job
47. Rilke, Rainer Maria - Duino Elegies and Sonnets to Orpheus
48.* Eliot, George - Middlemarch
49. Freud -  The Interpretation of Dreams
50.* Hesse, Herman - The Glass Bead Game

* These books are my substitutes for others that were in Gass's original list.


Jillian said...

What a rich list! I checked out your Goodreads "read" list and see you have read prolifically for a while now. It's a pleasure to meet you! Welcome to the club. :)

- jill

James said...

Thanks for your comment. I appreciate the warm welcome and look forward to reading what I hope will be only the first fifty of many classics to come.