Caren's Reviews > All Things Shining: Reading the Western Classics to Find Meaning in a Secular Age

All Things Shining by Hubert L. Dreyfus
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Feb 19, 2011

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bookshelves: adult-nonfiction
Read in February, 2011

I very much enjoyed the literary criticism parts of this book, but was less enchanted with the final "self-help" chapters. (But then, I wasn't looking for a self-help sort of book...) The authors are philosophy professors and the book is at its best when they relate ideas of philosophers to their chosen literary texts. The western classics explored at length are Homer's "Iliad" and "Odyssey", works of Aeschylus, Dante's "Divine Comedy" and Melville's "Moby Dick". I only read Homer fairly recently, as an adult and with the guidance of a wonderful teacher, so this discussion was very interesting to me. I never finished reading "Moby Dick", even though it was an assignment for a high school English class. It seemed painfully boring to me all those years ago. The authors' remarks about the book made it quite interesting and also made me think the ideas were probably far above my young head as a teen. "Moby Dick", as with many classics, is probably one of those books that should be revisited at different points in one's life, as wisdom grows. For me, time with this book is well-spent if you stick to the central chapters that discuss some of the Western classics. There were no big "ah-ha" moments; rather, there were many times when I murmured "how interesting" and kept reading.
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