A well-written account of Denby's decision to go back to Columbia University to re-take their "Great Books" program. The best parts are when he relates the books to people and events in his life. Thinking of Hobbes after being mugged on the subway, memories of his mother when reading King Lear, etc.
He spends too much time dichotomizing his perspective as a middle aged man to that of his young classmates. He is also took quick to discount the leftist revisions of the canon. I don't think he contextualizes the time period when Great Books programs like Columbia's began and how things have changed by the 1990s.
An interesting read, Denby obviously loves the Great Books. The best parts are when he tries to synthesize the works into his own life. Hobbes, Lear and his mother, Jesus and Denby's Jewish heritage, etc. He spends too much time dichotomizing his old perspective with the young students. He's also too quick to discount the leftist revisions of the canon. I think he also doesn't historically consider the Great Books and its goals versus the perspective of the 1990s. However, his closing chapters are very powerful and this book is worth reading. I used this considerably when I taught Western Civ at KU.