The Great Books

A Journey through 2,500 Years of the West’s Classic Literature

$22.00 $17.60

Anyone Can Read the Great Books . . . with a Little Help

Join the eminent British philosopher Anthony O’Hear on an exhilarating tour through two-and-a-half millennia of great Western literature—works as powerful, thrilling, erotic, politically astute, and awe-inspiring as any modern bestseller.

“An illuminating, learned, well-written, and entertaining survey of the giants of world literature.”
Paul Johnson, author of A History of the American People

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Description

Not simply a grand work of reference, The Great Books is a captivating journey through two-and-a-half millennia of the great Western tradition.

 

The Odyssey, Paradise Lost, The Canterbury Tales: great literature can be read by anyone, with a little help. The eminent British philosopher Anthony O’Hear leads the way with this exhilarating tour through 2,500 years of books as powerful, thrilling, erotic, politically astute, and awe-inspiring as any modern bestseller.

The Great Books is a fascinating narrative that encompasses history, myth, art, music, theater, and more. O’Hear sweeps us along from Homer’s Iliad to Goethe’s Faust, covering much ground in between. In Homer’s poems of epic struggle we discover not only the fascination and pleasure we can derive, but also why these works became the fountainhead of Western literature. From Greek tragedy we feel the power of the ancient myths, while from Plato’s Death of Socrates we see what may have killed off the tragic spirit. In Virgil’s Aeneid we ponder the close connections to—and puzzling contrasts with—Homer; in Dante’s terrifying and sublime Divine Comedy we encounter Virgil once again, this time as mentor and guide through Hell; and in Milton’s phantasmagoric Paradise Lost we find the Christian story given epic shape and power. And of course, in Shakespeare we experience the great dramatist’s particular and incomparable genius.

There is much more beyond—from Ovid and Augustine to Chaucer and Cervantes, Pascal and Racine. The Great Books is a spirited and enlightening guide to the great works of the Western tradition, shot through with a love of literature and the author’s deeply held belief in its power to enrich and enliven everyone’s world.

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Reviews

“An illuminating, learned, well-written, and entertaining survey of the giants of world literature.”
Paul Johnson, author of A History of the American People

“Both an informative guide to the classics of Western literature and an insightful exposition of their enduring relevance.”
Irish Times

“Nobody could withhold admiration from O’Hear’s terrific ambition. He sets out to . . . repair the gaping hiatus that has opened in the tapestry of our cultural continuity.”
Times Higher Education Supplement

“All the books [O’Hear] describes and examines, from Homer to Goethe’s Faust, exist in an order that contains some form of transcendence, above and outside man.”
The Spectator (London)

“O’Hear’s insightful and clearly written text will inspire a new generation of students to take pleasure in our literary heritage.”
Roger Scruton, author of The West and the Rest and Kant: A Very Short Introduction

The Great Books is a great book. O’Hear is the perfect guide to the classic works of our heritage. He tells readers just enough to make them want to read the works themselves and to appreciate the permanent value of the light they shed on the human condition. More than this, the book is an eloquent defense of our cultural tradition and the ideal of a liberal education against ignorant ideologically motivated attacks.”
John Kekes, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at University at Albany, SUNY

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