Recommended Great Reading During Advent
Copyright © 2004 by Redd Griffin
Passages of the following works were presented and discussed on the Light of the East radio program on Sunday, December 5, 2004.
A passage of The Confessions by St. Augustine was read on the air, exemplifying Christian writing inspired by a non-Christian author, Plato. This was cited
as part of the dialogue through the ages between the Church and the secular world.
Most of the other works referred to, are not usually thought of as religious, yet they deal with God's gifts in ways that are often illuminating, inspiring,
or entertaining to readers:
the allegory of the cave from Plato's book, The Republic
poems from Robert Louis Stevenson's A Child's Garden of
a passage from William Butler Yeats' "Sailing to Byzantium"
the epigraph to Ernest Hemingway's "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" and a passage from his novella, The Old Man and the Sea
the last paragraph of James Joyce's "The Dead," from the Dubliners.
Several other authors or works were recommended near the end of the program, including
St. Augustine's The City of God
and several works that are not explicitly religious but deal with themes and content helpful to living a more spiritual life:
Plato's "The Phaedrus," "The Apology, "The Crito" and "Phaedo"
William Shakespeare's Henry V and King Lear
Mortimer Adler's Aristotle for Everybody.
This next set of recommended readings appear on The Great Books Foundation and The College of Humanities and Sciences websites. All but four of them have
been read and discussed in Great Books classes I have led. The most relevant to spiritual questions, ideas, values, themes or experiences. are printed in
bold. An asterisk (*) after a title, means that the complete work is presented in books in these programs.
Anton Pavlovich Chekhov: Rothschild's Fiddle*, Uncle Vanya*
Plato: The Republic, "Symposium"
Immanuel Kant: Conscience
William Shakespeare: Othello* , Hamlet* The Tempest*, King Lear*
Sophocles: Antigone*, Oedipus the King*
Euripides: Iphigeneia at Aulis*
Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky: Notes from the Underground*
Herman Melville: Billy Budd, Sailor*
Soren Aabye Kierkegaard: The Knight of Faith
Moses Maimonides: On Evil
Geoffrey Chaucer: The Canterbury Tales
Leo Nikolayevich Tolstoy: The Death of Ivan Ilych
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: Faust, Part One*
Dante Alighieri: The Divine Comedy, Volume I: Inferno
Aristotle:" On Happiness" from The Nichomachean Ethics
Alexis de Tocqueville: "The Power of the Majority" from Democracy in America
Adam Smith: Wealth of Nations
Herodotus: The Persian Wars
John Locke: Of Civil Government
Jonathan Swift: Gulliver's Travels
John Stuart Mill: On Liberty, Utilitarianism
Thucydides: History of the Peloponnesian War
Karl von Clausewitz: What Is War?
Homer: The Iliad
Baron de la Brede et de Montesquieu: Principles of Government
Henry James: The Beast in the Jungle*
Max Weber: The Spirit of Capitalism
Moliere: The Misanthrope*
George Bernard Shaw: Caesar and Cleopatra*
Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, James Madison: The Federalist
Nikolai Gogol: The Overcoat*
Franz Kafka: The Metamorphosis*
Edmund Burke: Reflections on the Revolution in France
Henry Adams: The Education of Henry Adams
Other recommended works are:
Christopher Marlowe's Tragical History of Dr. Faustus
Blaise Pascal's Thoughts
Alfred Lord Tennyson's "The Charge of the Light Brigade"
James Russell Lowell's "Vision of Sir Launfal"
Mark Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Dylan Thomas' "Fern Hill" and "The Force that Through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower"
Other recommended authors are
The following Christmas tales are recommended for the whole family to read aloud, at least in part. The most relevant to spiritual questions, ideas, values,
themes or experiences are in bold type:
Charles Dickens: A Christmas Carol
O. Henry: The Gift of the Magi
Dylan Thomas: Child's Christmas in Wales
The sources referred to above include:
The Great Books Foundation @ 1-800-222-5870 firstname.lastname@example.org
The College of Humanities and Sciences (877) 248-6724 or (480) 829-4999, email@example.com
Note: Alexander Pope, a Catholic author of literary classics, well worth reading during Advent wrote, "To err is human, to forgive, divine." In
that spirit, please forgive some words of mine on the 12/05/04 broadcast that might be misinterpreted:
St. Augustine was a student of Plato but not a contemporary, having read Plato's works several centuries after the philosopher.
"Gyre" in the Yeats' poem "Sailing to Byzantium" should be pronounced with a soft "g" as in jire.
Plato wrote about Socrates' death in the "Apology."