Wednesday, January 09, 2013

An Education in Classics

Are you all familiar with the Harvard Classics? It's also known as "Dr. Eliot's Five Foot Shelf" and is the result of several speeches given by the aforementioned Dr. Eliot, the president of Harvard University from 1869-1909. Apparently Dr. Eliot had stated in several speeches that it was possible to obtain an education in the elements of classics by reading for fifteen minutes each day from a collection of books that would fit on a five foot shelf. How clever is that? 

A publishing company took notice and soon Dr. Eliot was working on compiling that five foot bookshelf! The collection came to be known as The Harvard Classics and the originals are highly collectible. Thankfully for those of us who don't have $2500.00 to plunk down for one of the beautifully bound sets from 1910, many of these works are now available as inexpensive paperbacks, free downloads, and of course, you can always check them out from the library. 

At BFB we love the classics and take the opportunity to incorporate them into our history curriculums. Beowulf takes its place in our Medieval History Through Literature, along with The Song of Roland, Canterbury Tales and many other great works of the medieval times. Students using our Ancient History Through Literature are introduced to the writings of Homer and the ideas of Aristotle. The classics, those books that have stood the test of time, are essential parts of a well-rounded education. 

For those of you who are curious as to what makes up this five foot book shelf, here's the list of works. I would love to reach a point in my literary pursuits when I will have read each and every piece. Maybe taking that 15 minute per day challenge is something I should consider? Have you read any of these works? All of them? Would you be interested in spending 15 minutes each day in pursuit of a liberal arts education? Since this collection was assembled at the beginning of the 20th century many books considered "modern classics" are missing. Many of the selections also represent a world view firmly steeped in western culture and a growing faith in the ability of science to explain all. What do you think of this? Would you add books to provide more balance? What books would you add?

Volume 1
Benjamin Franklin: "His Autobiography"
John Woolman: "The Journal of John Woolman"
William Penn: "Some Fruits of Solitude, In Reflections and Maxims, Part I" and "More Fruits of Solitude, Being the Second Part of Reflections and Maxims."

Volume 2
Plato: "The Apology", "Phaedo", "Crito"
Epictetus: "The Golden Sayings of Epictetus"
Marcus Aurelius: "The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius"

Volume 3
Francis Bacon: "Essays or Counsels - Civil and Moral" (59 essays in all), "The New Atlantis"
John Milton's Prose: "Areopagitica", "Tractate on Education"
Thomas Browne: "Religio Medici"

Volume 4
The Complete Poems in English, John Milton. Includes all his poems, also "Paradise Lost" and "Paradise Regained".

Volume 5
Ralph Waldo Emerson -- Essays: "The American Scholar", "An Address", "Man the Reformer", "Self-Reliance", "Compensation", "Friendship", "Heroism", "The Over-Soul", "Circles", "The Poet", "Character", "Manners", "Gifts", "Nature", "Politics", "New England Reformers", "Worship", "Beauty".
Also includes Emerson's "English Traits".

Volume 6
Poems and Songs, Robert Burns (Includes Poems with Scottish words / spellings.)

Volume 7
"The Confessions" of St. Augustine and "The Imitation of Christ" by Thomas A. Kempis

Volume 8
Nine Greek Dramas:
"The House of Atreus" Trilogy by Aeschylus: "Agamemnon", "The Libation-Bearers" and "The Furies".
"Prometheus Bound" by Aeschylus
"Oedipus the King" by Sophocles
"Antigone" by Sophocles
"Hippolytus" by Euripides
"The Bacchae" by Euripides
"The Frogs" by Aristophanes

Volume 9
Letters and Treatises of Cicero and Pliny
Cicero: "On Friendship", "On Old Age", "Letters"
Pliny: "Letters"

Volume 10
"Wealth of Nations" by Adam Smith

Volume 11
"Origin of Species", by Charles Darwin

Volume 12
Plutarch's Lives; "Themistocles", "Pericles", "Aristides", "Alcibiades", "Coriolanus", "Comparison of Alcibiades with Coriolanus", "Demosthenes", "Cicero", "Comparision of Demosthense and Cicero", "Caesar", "(Mark) Antony".

Volume 13
"The Aeneid", by Virgil

Volume 14
"Don Quixote, Part I", Miguel Cervantes

Volume 15
"Pilgrim's Progress", by John Bunyan
"The Lives of Donne and George Herbert", by Izaak Walton

Volume 16
"The Thousand and One Nights"

Volume 17
Folk Lore and Fable,
Aesop: (82 fables)
Grimm: (41 fairy tales)
Andersen: (20 fairy tales)

Volume 18
Modern English Drama
"All for Love, or, The World Well Lost", by John Dryden
"The School for Scandal", by Richard Brinsley Sheridan
"She Stoops to Conquer", by David Garrick
"The Cenci", by Percy Bysshe Shelley
"A Blot on the 'Scutcheon", by Robert Browning
"Manfried", by Lord Byron

Volume 19
"Faust Part I", "Egmont", "Hermann and Dorothea", by Goethe
"Doctor Faustus", by Christopher Marlowe

Volume 20
"The Divine Comedy" Dante

Volume 21
"I Promessi Sposi", Manzoni

Volume 22
"The Odyssey", by Homer

Volume 23
"Two Years Before the Mast", Dana

Volume 24
Writings of Edmund Burke: "On Taste", "On the Sublime and the Beautiful", "Reflections of the French Revolution", "A Letter to a Noble Lord"

Volume 25
J.S. Mill: "Autobiography of John Stuart Mill", "On Liberty"
Thomas Carlyle: "Characteristics", "Inaugural Address at Edinburgh", "Sir Walter Scott"

Volume 26
Continental Drama
"Life is a Dream", Pedro Calderon de la Barca
"Polyeucte", Pierre Corneille
"Phaedra", Jean Baptiste Racine
"Tartuffe, or the Hypocrite", Jean Baptiste Molière
"Minna von Barnhelm, or The Soldier's Fortune", Gotthold Ephraim Lessing
"William Tell", Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller

Volume 27
English Essays
"The Defence of Poesy", Sir Philip Sidney
"On Shakespeare", "On Bacon", Ben Johnson
"Of Agriculture" Abraham Cowley
"The Vision of Mirza", "Westminster Abbey", Joseph Addison
"The Spectator Club", Sir Richard Steele
"Hints Towards an Essay on Conversation", "A Treatise on Good Manners and Breeding", "A Letter of Advice to a Young Poet", "On the Death of Esther Johnson (Stella)", Jonathan Swift
"The Shortest-Way with the Dissenters", "The Education of Women", Daniel Defoe
"Life of Addison, 1672-1719", Samuel Johnson
"On the Standard of Taste", David Hume
"Fallacies of Anti-Reformers", Sydney Smith
"On Poesy or Art", Samuel Taylor Coleridge
"Of Persons One Would Wish to Have Seen", William Hazlitt
"Deaths of Little Children", "On the Realities of Imagination", Leigh Hunt
"On the Tragedies of Shakespeare", Charles Lamb
"Levana and Our Ladies of Sorrow", Thomas de Quincey
"A Defence of Poetry", Percy Bysshe Shelley
"Machiavelli", Thomas Babington Macaulay

Volume 28
Essays, English and American
"The Idea of a University", John Henry Newman
"The Study of Poetry", Matthew Arnold
"Sesame and Lilies: Lecture I. Sesame, of King's Treasuries. Lecture II. Lilies, Of Queen's Gardens", John Ruskin
"John Milton", Walter Bagehot
"Science and Culture", Thomas Henry Huxley
"Truth of Intercourse", "Samuel Pepys", Robert Louis Stevenson
"On the Elevation of the Labouring Classes", William Ellery Channing
"The Poetic Principle", Edgar Allan Poe
"Walking", Henry David Thoreau
"Abraham Lincoln", "Democracy", James Russell Lowell

Volume 29
"Voyage of the Beagle", Darwin

Volume 30
Scientific Papers; Physics,Chemistry, Astronomy, Geology
"The Forces of Matter", The Chemical History of a Candle", Michael Faraday
"On the Conversation of Force", "Ice and Glaciers", Hermann von Helmholtz
"The Wave Theory of Light", "The Tides", Sir William Thomson
"The Extent of the Universe", Simon Newcomb
"Geographical Evolution", Sir Archibald Geike

Volume 31
"Autobiography", by Benvenuto Cellini

Volume 32
"That We Should Not Judge of Our Happiness Until After Our Death", "That to Philosophise is to Learne How to Die", "Of the Institution and Education of Children", "Of Friendship", "Of Bookes", Montaigne
"Montaigne", "What is a Classic?", Charles Augustin Sainte-Beuve
"The Poetry of the Celtic Races", Ernst Renan
"The Education of the Human Race", Gotthold Ephraim Lessing
"Letters Upon the Aesthetic Education of Man", Schiller
"Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysic of Morals", "Transition from Popular Moral Philosophy to the Metaphysic", Immanuel Kant
"Byron and Goethe", Giuseppe Mazzini

Volume 33
Voyages and Travels
"An Account of Egypt", Herodotus
"Germany", Tacitus
"Sir Francis Drake Revived", Sir Francis Drake
"Sir Francis Drake's Famous Voyage Around the World", Francis Pretty
"Drake's Great Armada", Cpt. Walter Bigges
"Sir Humphrey Gilbert's Voyage to Newfoundland", Edward Haies
"The Discovery of Guiana", Sir Walter Raleigh

Volume 34
"Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting the Reason and Seeking the Truth in the Sciences," René Descartes,
"Letters on the English", Voltaire
"A Discourse Upon the Origin and the Foundation of the Inequality Among Mankind", J.J. Rousseau
"Of Man, Being the First Part of Leviathan", Thomas Hobbes

Volume 35
"The Campaign of Crecy", "The Battle of Poitiers", "Wat Tyler's Rebellion", "The Battle of Otterburn", from the Chronicles of Froissart
"The Holy Grail", from the Caxton Edition of "The Morte d'Arthur" by Sir Thomas Malory
"A Description of Elizabethan England Written by William Harrison for Holinshed's Chronicles", Holinshed

Volume 36
"The Prince", Machiavelli
"The Life of Sir Thomas More", William Roper
"Utopia", Sir Thomas More
"Ninety-five Theses", "Address to the Christian Nobility of the German Nation Respecting the Reformation of the Christian Estate", "Concerning Christian Liberty", Martin Luther

Volume 37
"Some Thoughts Concerning Education", John Locke
"Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous in Opposition to Sceptics and Atheists", George Berkeley,
"An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding", David Hume

Volume 38
"The Oath of Hippocrates", "The Law of Hippocrates", Hippocrate
"Journeys in Diverse Places", Ambroise Paré
"On the Motion of the Heart and Blood in Animals", "William Harvey", William Harvey
"The Three Original Publications on Vaccination Against Smallpox", Edward Jenner
"The Contagiousness of Puerperal Fever", O.W. Holmes
"On the Antiseptic Principle of the Practise of Surgery", Lord Lister
"The Physiological Theory of Fermentation", "The Germ Theory and its Application to Medicine and Surgery", "On the Extension of the the Germ Theory to the Etiology of Certain Common Diseases", Louis Pasteur
"Prejudices which have Retard the Progress of Geology",
"Uniformity in the Series of Past Changes in the Animate and Inanimate World", Sir Charles Lyell

Volume 39
Famous Prefaces
"Title, Prologue and Epilogues to the Recuyell of the Histories of Troy", "Epilogue to Dictes and Saying of the Philosophers", Prologue to Golden Legend", "Prologue to Caton", "Epilogue to Aesop", "Proem to Chaucer's Canterbury Tales", "Prologue to Malory's King Arthur", "Prologue to Virgil's Eneydos", William Caxton
"Dedication to the Institutes of the Christian Religion", John Calvin
"Dedication of the Revolutions of the Heavenly Bodies", Nicolaus Copernicus
"Preface to the History of the Reformation in Scotland", John Knox
"Prefatory Letter to Sir Walter Raleigh on the Faerie Queen", Edmund Spenser
"Preface to the History of the World", Sir Walter Raleigh
"Proemium, Epistle, Dedicatory, Preface, and Plan of the Insturatio Magna, Etc.", "Preface to the Novum Organum", Francis Bacon
"Preface to the First Folio Edition of Shakespeare's Plays", Heminge and Condell
"Preface to the Philosophiae Naturalis Principa Mathematica", Sir Isaac Newton
"Preface to Fables, Ancient and Modern", John Dryden
"Preface to Joseph Andrews", Henry Fielding
"Preface to the English Dictionary", "Preface to Shakespeare", Samuel Johnson
"Introduction to the Propylaen", J.W. von Goethe
"Prefaces to Various Volumes of Poems", "Appendix to Lyrical Ballads", "Essay Supplementary to Preface", William Wordsworth
"Preface to Cromwell", Victor Hugo
"Preface to Leaves of Grass", Walt Whitman
"Introduction to the History of English Literature", H.A. Taine

Volume 40
Selections of English Poetry 1
Chaucer to Gray

Volume 41
English Poetry 2
Collins to Fitzgerald

Volume 42
English Poetry 3
Tennyson to Whitman

Volume 43
American Historical Documents
"The Voyages to Vinland (c. 1000)"
"The Letter of Columbus to Luis de Saint Angel Announcing His Discovery (1493)"
"Amerigo Vespucci's Account of His First Voyage (1497)"
"John Cabot's Discovery of North America (1497)"
"First Charter of Virginia (1606)"
"The Mayflower Compact (1620)"
"The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut (1639)"
"The Massachusetts Body of Liberties (1641)"
"Arbitrary Government Described and the Government of the Massachusetts Vindicated from that Apersion, by John Winthrop (1644)"
"The Instrument of Government (1653)"
"A Healing Question, by Sir Henry Vane (1656)"
"John Eliot's Brief Narrative (1670)"
"Declaration of Rights (1756)"
"The Declaration of Independence (1776)"
"Articles of Confederation (1777)"
"Articles of Capitulation, Yorktown (1781)"
"Treaty with Great Britain (1783)"
"Constitution of the United States (1787)"
"The Federalist, Nos. 1 and 2" (1787)"
"Opinion of Chief Justice Marshall, in the Case of McCulloch vs. The State of Maryland (1819)"
"Washington's First Inaugural Address (1789)"
"Treaty with the Six Nations (1794)"
"Washington's Farewell Address (1796)"
"Treaty with France, Louisiana Purchase (1803)"
"Treaty with Great Britain, End of War of 1812 (1814)"
"Arrangement as to the Naval Force to be Respectively Maintained on the American Lakes (1817)"
"Treaty with Spain, Acquisition of Florida (1842)"
"The Monroe Doctrine (1823)"
"Webster-Ashburn Treaty with Great Britain (1842)"
"Treaty with Mexico (1848)"
"Fugitive Slave Act (1850)"
"Lincoln's First Inaugural Address (1861)"
"Emancipation Proclamation (1863)"
"Haskell's Account of the Battle of Gettysburg"
"Lincoln's Gettysburg Address (1863)"
"Proclamation of Amnesty (1863)"
"Lincoln's Letter to Mrs. Bixby (1864)"
"Terms of Lee's Surrender at Appomattox (1865)"
"Lee's Farewell to his Army (1865)"
"Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address (1865)"
"Proclamation Declaring the Insurrection at and End (1866)"
"Treaty with Russia, Alaska Purchase (1867)"
"Annexation of the Hawaiian Islands (1898)"
"Recognition of the Independence of Cub (1898)"
"Treaty with Spain, Cession of Puerto Rico and the Philippines (1898)"
"Convention between the United States and the Republic of Panama, (1904)"

Volume 44
Sacred Writings 1
Confucian; The Sayings of Confucius
Hebrew: The Book of Job, The Book of Psalms, Ecclesiastes; or The Preacher
Christian: Luke's Gospel, The Acts of the Apostles

Volume 45
Sacred Writings 2
Christian: First Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians, Second Epistle to the Corinthians, Hymns of the Christian Church
Buddist: Buddist writings
Hindu: The Bhagavad-Gita, or Song Celestial
Mohammedan: Chapters from the Koran

Volume 46
Elizabethan Drama 1
"Edward the Second", Christopher Marlowe
"Hamlet", "King Lear", "Macbeth", "The Tempest", Shakespeare

Volume 47
Elizabethan Drama 2
"The Shoemaker's Holiday", Thomas Dekker
"The Alchemist", Ben Johnson
"Philaster", Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher
"The Duchess of Malfi", John Webster
"A New Way to Pay Old Debts", Philip Massinger

Volume 48
"Thoughts", "Letters", "Minor Works", Pascal

Volume 49
Epic and Saga
"The Song of Roland"
"The Destruction of Dá Derga's Hostel"
"The Story of the Volsungs and Niblungs"
"Songs from the Elder Edda"

1 comment:

  1. Very similar to the collection of Great Books I have.