Category Archives: The Great Books

Why is Middlemarch so good?

The author’s purpose was to be a generous rural historian, and this very redundancy of touch, born of abundant reminiscence, is one of the greatest charms of her work. It is as if her memory was crowded with antique figures, … Continue reading

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Some more thoughts on the specificity of The Prince

Early impressions here. The benefit to doing two discussion salons on the Great Books is that you read a book, discuss a book, and then discuss a book again a month later with the second group. This digestion period has been … Continue reading

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Inchoate thoughts on Middlemarch, and fiction

Ed. Note: If it weren’t already obvious, I’m sort of throwing my original book order out the window. Most of this has to do with making sure that I’m prepared for the Interintellect discussion series, but part of it is also not … Continue reading

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What’s Overlooked in Frankenstein

I first read Frankenstein as a college freshman, and I was excited to read it again for the discussion series I’m hosting with David McDougall. The novel has permeated pop culture such that the themes (hubris, scientific advancement gone awry, those funny … Continue reading

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Why They’ll Read Dante in Space

(Previous thoughts on Dante here and here.) “Dante and Shakespeare divide the modern world between them; there is no third.” —T.S. Eliot. “At one point midway on our path in life, I came around and found myself now searching through … Continue reading

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Inchoate thoughts on Descartes’ Meditations

Back when I read Euclid’s Elements*, I wrote (or maybe just thought) that some of these books were best read in person. Some of the Great Books (the novels, I think?) are easy to digest, while others require more grappling. In … Continue reading

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Early Impressions of The Prince, Machiavelli

The best parts of reading the Great Books is seeing the delta between what you think a book is about versus what the actual text says. I say “what the actual text says” because there really is no substitute to … Continue reading

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A Quick Note About Talking About The Classics

Reading classic books is enjoyable in and of itself, but something that I’ve found surprisingly enjoyable is to take part in the conversations around these books. Much like the actual reading of books, “Discussions around the Classics” is a subset … Continue reading

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(Hopefully) Less inchoate thoughts on Dante’s Inferno

Continued from here. Intellectuals say that Paradiso is for pious theologians, Purgatorio is for brilliant, exacting scholars of Medieval cosmology, but Inferno, Inferno is for filthy casuals. —Books in 150 Words. I finished Inferno over the weekend, and there’s something about … Continue reading

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Inchoate thoughts on Dante’s Inferno

“Will you – should either head back to the world – bring comfort to my memory, which lies still lashed beneath the stroke of envious eyes?” Inferno, Canto 13.76-78. I’m about a third of the way through Inferno, just finished Canto 13, … Continue reading

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