Classics and the Western Canon discussion

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message 1: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments This comment is very definitely NOT aimed at any particular poster, nor is it intended at all to stifle robust discussion. And I hope it will be taken gently in the spirit in which it is intended.

We seem to be experiencing an increasing number of quite long posts, some of which seem to be more in the line of research projects than of member-generated comments on the text. Some background, of course, is often of great value in understanding and enjoying these texts, and I don't want to suggest that such background posts are not welcome, particularly when they are succinct and focused on the particular books under discussion.

However, the primary emphasis of the discussions should, I (and the other moderators) believe, arise mostly from the personal interaction of members with the text. How do you experience the texts? What issues do they raise in your mind? How do they remain relevant even after hundreds or thousands of years? These are the sorts of personal interaction issues which are particularly valuable to have members share here, and are perhaps more valuable to members than the ways in which scholars over the years have interacted with the texts.

Thank you for considering these thoughts, which are intended to be encouraging and not discouraging.

message 2: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5100 comments Thx for reminding of the importance of first person versus third person perspectives, Eman! Ironic that I had experienced basically the same discussion in a face-to-face small group this past week. I hadn't really thought about how significant to the integrity of discussion the right mix can be.

message 3: by David (new)

David | 2865 comments Everyman said it best, as always. But I feel compelled to add my own two cents aided by some champions of the the Western Canon:
. . .we must remember the obvious fact that we do not agree or disagree with fiction. We either like it or we do not. Our critical judgment in the case of expository books concerns their truth, whereas in criticizing belles-lettres, as the word itself suggests, we consider chiefly their beauty. The beauty of any work of art is related to the pleasure it gives us when we know it well.

Van Doren, Charles. How to Read a Book (A Touchstone Book) (p. 213). Touchstone. Kindle Edition.
Facts color our understanding of things but facts and understanding are two different things. As a reader and moderator of expository books our goal is to go from a state of understanding less to a state of understanding more.

As a reader and moderator of imaginative literature our goal should be to fully appreciate what the author has tried to make us experience. or, to go from a state of experiencing less to a state of experiencing more and reflecting on how we think (relate to) and feel about that experience and why.

A wonderful thing about the books read in this group, possibly more than other groups, is that by their nature the reader's understanding or experience is benefited by learning some additional facts. This is why there are general background, and translation discussions. Please note, we can and have created specific subtopics for some books when there was a demand for it. In hindsight for Odyssey a subtopic for "Greek Myth and the Epic Cycle" might be useful to refer to in our chapter discussions.

When providing some helpful bit of background information in an imaginative literature chapter(s) discussion, make sure it is succinct and made clear how it relates to events in that chapter(s) discussion. Most importantly don't forget to do the real work (i.e., fun) and clearly state what you like and dislike about it and why as it relates to the work and you can even clearly state what you feel is good or bad about it and why as it relates to the work.
The better [we] can reflectively discern the causes of your pleasure in reading fiction or poetry, the nearer [we] will come to knowing the artistic virtues in the literary work itself.

Van Doren, Charles. How to Read a Book (A Touchstone Book) (p. 214). Touchstone. Kindle Edition.

message 4: by Thomas (last edited Apr 28, 2018 10:04PM) (new)

Thomas | 4621 comments We have traditionally avoided commentaries in our discussions because they can be a distraction from work we are reading directly, and they can sometimes derail the conversation.

We should also remember that we have many members who are reading the Odyssey for the first time, when it's a challenge just managing the large cast of characters.

Let's try to keep commentary and background information to the "General Discussion" thread to make the main discussion more open and friendly to everyone.

message 5: by David (new)

David | 1 comments In response to a question posed by the editors of The Atlantic Magazine concerning the greatest power couple in history, I said, why, Paris and Helen, of course. Couples as such can now be found as stranded in the long shadow cast by Homer's ill-fated runaways, a shadow which backs up in time to when the early foundations of Troy were laid more than a thousand years before the birth of Christ.

message 6: by David (new)

David | 2865 comments David wrote: "the greatest power couple in history, I said, why, Paris and Helen. . ."

Paris + Helen. As a power couple, how would the modern paparazzi choose to reference them?

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