Tuesday, October 16, 2007

48 Classic Books to Boost Your Learning Experience

So, I found this link on Life Optimizer about classic books to "boost your learning experience."  What's that mean?  I've always liked the idea (referenced in the post) that they "give you different lenses to look through."  The author actually explains how he created his list, looking at two references on the subject "How To Read A Book" and "The Well-Educated Mind".  His list is composed of those classics that are recommended in both books.

Anyway, you just know that when somebody lists important classic books I'm gonna be there to see how our man Shakespeare does.  This particular list has a category for "Drama", which has 13 entries.  Care to take a guess how many old Shakey is responsible for?

3(*) of them.  For the next question, no, no other playwright is listed more than once. 

Which ones?  Richard III, Midsummer Night's Dream, and Hamlet.  Interesting combination. 

(*) Technically 4, if you count "Sonnets" listed in the Poetry section.

4 comments:

ren girl said...

Why Midsummer I wonder? I like that play, but I would think something like Measure for Measure would give readers more to wrestle with.

On the other hand we've also got Richard3 and Hamlet, so there's plenty there to wrestle with. Maybe I've just read/seen too much Midsummer. :)

Is that the comedy you'd put on there?

Alan K.Farrar said...

I always get worried when people suggest reading 'improves the mind' - thought thinking for yourself did that.
It sounds like the old view of heads as empty vessels to be filled - and the gt M'n hi'self would not 'give truck' to that - he sets questions going.

As for The Dream - a case could well be made for it being the greatest of all Shakey's works - just think of the number of performances it gets as evidence of its greatness.

Duane said...

You're kidding, right Alan? Of the comedies, sure - but you didn't phrase it like that. Dream is the more commonly performed than, say, King Lear because it is short and safe and had broader audience appeal. There's no meaningful sex or violence (at least relative to the other plays). Not only can families and kids go see it, but kids can actually perform it. It wins because of audience, not because of inherent literary greatness.

Saying "number of performances is evidence of greatness" is like saying that Shrek or Die Hard are better movies than Schindler's List or Apollo 13 because they brought in more box office. Or that "raunchy sophomoric comedy" is the greatest genre of them all because that's what most of the movies today are.

Alan K.Farrar said...

Re: You're kidding, right Alan?

Yes, and no.

I really do think this is one of his greatest plays - and its continual presence in the rep for such a long time is support of that. Shriek et al haven't 'survived' - and most of the other Shakespeares drift in and out of popularity - The Dream goes on forever!
I don't go for the 'safe for children' view either - and several performances from the RSC would get your youngsters interested in animal behaviour sooner than you might want!
This is a very serious play about imagination, reality and marriage.