Classics and the Western Canon discussion

130 views
General > Planning for Winter 2012 read

Comments Showing 1-50 of 80 (80 new)    post a comment »
« previous 1

message 1: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Time to start thinking about our next reading starting in January, 2011. I've waited a bit longer than usual to open the process, because by agreement one of the books on the list is to be volume two of Proust (Within a Budding Grove), and I wanted to wait until members had had a chance to become acquainted with Proust before voting on whether to continue the journey with him or move on to something different.

I'll be running the random generator on our bookshelf soon, and with the addition of the nominations from the moderators will post the list here for discussion, lobbying, and comments before posting it for a vote.

For those new to the group, if the first round of voting brings up a clear winner, we choose that book; if there are two clear leaders, well ahead of the pack, we usually choose both of them for our next two books; if there are two or three leaders but the vote was generally close, we'll hold a run-off.

Also for those new to the voting process, we don't select books to be voted on by the member nomination process followed in many other groups on Goodreads. Rather, if members want a book to be considered for selection, they post it on the To Be Read shelf in our bookshelf. (If you're not sure how to do this, there are instructions somewhere in the group, or feel free to ask one of the moderators to add it to the bookshelf for you; books should fit our basic criteria for works generally considered within the Western Canon broadly construed; if you're not sure whether a book fits, feel free to mention it and invite discussion). For each vote, I then run a random number generator on the list, add in moderator nominations, and the ensuing list, usually about 10 books, constitutes the list for the first poll.

This process has worked for us very successfully, generally resulting in a broad, eclectic, and manageable mix of choices.


message 2: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Okay, here are our offerings for our January, 2011 read. As usual, a fascinating mix of choices, some fiction, some philosophy, some history, some poetry, you name it, it's here!

This thread is open for lobbying, comments, encouragement, enthusiasm, etc. Feel free to offer summaries or reviews (no spoilers, please) of works that might be less familiar or where you think your observations may help others come to an informed choice.

In alphabetical order by author:

Burke, Edmund, A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful
Bunyan, Pilgrim’s Progress
Defoe, A Journal of the Plague Year
Eliot, Daniel Deronda
Erasmus, In Praise of Folly
Herodotus, The Histories
Homer, The Iliad
Machiavelli, The Prince
More, Thomas, Utopia
Proust, Within a Budding Grove
Scott, The Talisman
Spenser, The Fairie Queene
Spinoza, Ethics


toria (vikz writes) (victoriavikzwrites) | 186 comments What a great choice. As usual, I want to read them all. While, at the same time, I dread reading any of them. The Homer sounds great but so does the Spinoza. I've wanted to read him for ages.


message 4: by Lacy (new)

Lacy (lacy_stewart) I vote for Homer.


message 5: by Ibis3 (new)

Ibis3 | 53 comments It's hard to say since I haven't even dipped into Proust yet. Perhaps we could put him back on the list for next time (or even make it automatic?) if we end up selecting something else this time?

Of the non-Proustian choices, I've already read Herodotus, the Iliad, The Prince, Utopia, and The Faerie Queene. All very good, but I'd rather do something I haven't read yet. So that leaves a bunch of other picks that sound fantastic. On the Sublime and Beautiful is I think what I would go for. I've wanted to read it since it was discussed in my historiography class back when I was an undergrad. I don't recall what the prof said about it, but I remember that it sounded great.


message 6: by Dee (new)

Dee (deinonychus) | 291 comments All of them! I can't think of any of those I don't want to read, and Pilgrim's Progress is the only one I've read in its entirety, though I've read large portions of the Iliad. My top three would probably be Homer, Proust, then Bunyan (I've not read PP for ages and would love to revisit it)

When will the poll go up?


message 7: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Ibis3 wrote: "It's hard to say since I haven't even dipped into Proust yet. Perhaps we could put him back on the list for next time (or even make it automatic?) if we end up selecting something else this time?

..."


I would certainly be open to that. Frankly, I'm finding him a bit heavy going and personally would welcome something different for a change, but I don't mind having him come up again later. But my preference would be not to follow with another Proust right away. But I only have one vote!


message 8: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments David wrote: "When will the poll go up? "

Probably in about in a week, give or take. I want to wait to give people a chance to comment on the list and think a little about it. If comments slow down, I'll be more inclined to put the poll up sooner; if they keep coming, I'll be more inclined to wait a bit.

Keep your eyes open for it. I usually leave the polls up for about a week.

I'll announce it clearly here, but I tend not to send out a message to the whole membership, because frankly I want those who are more active to be the primary voters.


message 9: by Roger (new)

Roger Burk | 1717 comments Bunyan. Two hundred years ago a family that had two books usualy had the Bible and Pilgrim's Progress. We should read it and find out what it's all about.


message 10: by Adelle (new)

Adelle | 127 comments My mother read it to us children as a bedtime story. The book she read from had great illustrations.


message 11: by [deleted user] (new)

Everyman wrote:"Ibis3 wrote:"It's hard to say since I haven't even dipped into Proust yet. Perhaps we could put him back on the list for next time (or even make it automatic?) if we end up selecting something else this time?"

I would certainly be open to that. Frankly, I'm finding him a bit heavy going and personally would welcome something different for a change, but I don't mind having him come up again later. But my preference would be not to follow with another Proust right away


I agree. I'm a huge, huge Proustophile, but I need breaks between big chunks of Proust. Like palate-cleansers, I suppose. But I'll always return to him. <3

Erasmus sounds like fun!


message 12: by Ibis3 (new)

Ibis3 | 53 comments Oh good, it sounds like people are going to want a break between courses of Proust. This was my original preference so you're making me happy. :)


message 13: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments The poll has been posted. Get your vote in for the book you would most like to read (all of the above may be your desired answer, but I'm sorry, it's not a permissible one!)

With this number of choices, I'm assuming that we will need a run-off. But we'll see.

As always, lobbying is entirely acceptable, as is posting comments or reviews that don't include spoilers.


message 14: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth I just read The Iliad for class, one of the best works ever. The Fagles translation is great. I also had Lattimore to get the feel for a more literal translation.


message 15: by Dee (new)

Dee (deinonychus) | 291 comments I have both of those translations, but haven't read either in their entirety. From what I've read, I think I prefer Lattiimore. I also have EV Rieu's which I strongly dislike.

I actually voted for Bunyan, but would also love to read the Iliad, so may change my vote if it gets close.


message 16: by Lidiana (new)

Lidiana I'm so glad that you chose The Iliad and not The Odyssey. I read them both, and I think that The Iliad is so superior (despite the opposite opinion of my teachers when I was in college. They all were Odyssey fanatics).

Well, either way, from the list I'll vote in Defoe. Always a great reading, in my opinion...


message 17: by [deleted user] (new)

A plug for Erasmus: Wikipedia calls "In Praise of Folly" "a satirical attack on the traditions of the European society, of the Catholic Church and popular superstitions"


message 18: by Jim (new)

Jim Torn between Defoe and Burke. Maybe I'll read both, and of course, whatever wins the poll.


message 19: by Chelsea (new)

Chelsea (coutlaw) I'm going to have to throw my hat in with The Iliad, although I'd also like to champion the Spenser, as so few others seem inclined to do so!


message 20: by Lidiana (new)

Lidiana M wrote: "A plug for Erasmus: Wikipedia calls "In Praise of Folly" "a satirical attack on the traditions of the European society, of the Catholic Church and popular superstitions""

I liked this description so bad that I'm thinking about changing my vote.


message 21: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Chelsea wrote: "I'm going to have to throw my hat in with The Iliad, although I'd also like to champion the Spenser, as so few others seem inclined to do so!"

Spenser has been up once or twice before and hasn't garnered much support. I think it has a reputation for being a challenging read, though I think the fairly recent Longman edition is a more accessible translation, and it has plenty of notes (on the bottom of the page, none of the turning back to the end of the book that I hate!) to make the reading more enjoyable, at least for me.

But I am leaning a bit myself toward the Iliad, even though I've read it before. But I haven't voted yet, so we'll see. I might decide to go for something that I haven't read before.


message 22: by Ibis3 (last edited Nov 16, 2011 07:53AM) (new)

Ibis3 | 53 comments Everyman wrote: "Chelsea wrote: "I'm going to have to throw my hat in with The Iliad, although I'd also like to champion the Spenser, as so few others seem inclined to do so!"

Spenser has been up once or twice bef..."


Not to champion Spenser (cos I want to read something new ;-) ), but I didn't find it difficult at all. Once you get into the rhythm of the thing, it's rather fun (reading aloud helps in this immensely). Lots of action and the poetry is beautiful.

I read a Wordsworth edition with traditional (rather than modern) spelling, and a glossary at the back, so I only turned to it when I found myself stuck. I found myself preferring that system so much that I went out and bought the Arden Complete Shakespeare which also doesn't have notes but a glossary at the back. It's funny that people can have such opposing preferences. I don't like the notes on the page because I feel pressured to look, just to make sure I'm not missing anything, only to find that I needn't have bothered because I already knew what the word meant or what allusion the author is making. It destroys the pleasure of just reading straight through for me.


message 23: by Roger (new)

Roger Burk | 1717 comments Everyman wrote: "Chelsea wrote: "I'm going to have to throw my hat in with The Iliad, although I'd also like to champion the Spenser, as so few others seem inclined to do so!"

Spenser has been up once or twice bef..."


A translation of Spenser? He wrote in English! I have read the Faerie Queene, and found it very enjoyable, and as accessible as Shakespeare.


message 24: by Roger (new)

Roger Burk | 1717 comments I'd like to suggest that we keep the poll open until 7 Dec, by which time we can suppose that everyone will have finished _Swann's Way_. How that book ends may influence peoples' desires on what to read next.


message 25: by [deleted user] (new)

That's a good point. It's a new situation with a Vol. 2 of the current book as one of the options, so I like the idea of giving people extra time to decide if they want to continue w/ ISOLT.


message 26: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Roger wrote: "I'd like to suggest that we keep the poll open until 7 Dec, by which time we can suppose that everyone will have finished _Swann's Way_. How that book ends may influence peoples' desires on what t..."

That doesn't give much time for a run-off poll and then for people to get the book and have a chance to start reading it during the Interim Read. It's a fair enough idea, but I think I'll stick with the schedule, since we do try to choose our books well in advance since some people like to look for second hand copies and it can take overseas members awhile to get the books.


message 27: by Jim (new)

Jim It might be nice to continue on to Vol 2 of Proust. So many people read Swann's Way and stop there. I'd be willing to go another round with Marcel for the sake of continuity. Then there's the whole curled-up-in-bed on a cold winter night factor, which also has me leaning towards Vol. 2...


message 28: by Andreea (new)

Andreea (andyyy) I think if enough people want to go on with Proust, we could find some way to continue the discussion here even if it's not picked as a group-wide read. If worst comes to worst and people feel like it's too much of a disruption to this group, we could just make a group focused solely on Proust. I personally don't want to stop at volume 1 either.


message 29: by Thomas (new)

Thomas | 4409 comments I am enjoying Swann's Way very much and will probably go on to read the next volume at some point, but I think I will be up for something in a different vein after this one. Someone has set up a Proust reading group ( http://www.goodreads.com/group/show/3... might be a good forum -- looks like it could use some help.

If the group decides to read the next volume I'll be fine with it, but I don't think I'll be reading all of ISOLT straight through.


message 30: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments I don't want to discourage anyone from voting to continue Proust, but I think it's only responsible of me to say that if the next volume is chosen, we'll have to find a moderator for it, since I'm personally not going to be up for more Proust immediately, so would pass on reading it. It's early days yet, but be prepared to consider, if it wins, that it will need a moderator.

This isn't anything unique here -- we have several times had other moderators for books we read.,


message 31: by Jim (new)

Jim Everyman wrote: "I don't want to discourage anyone from voting to continue Proust, but I think it's only responsible of me to say that if the next volume is chosen, we'll have to find a moderator for it, since I'm ..."

Perfectly understandable. If Proust wins, I nominate Andreea as interim moderator...


message 32: by Lily (last edited Nov 18, 2011 04:27AM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 4993 comments When will the poll close?

Found it in the poll comments: "Ends at: November 21st"

Which probably means the day before to be safe.


message 33: by Ibis3 (new)

Ibis3 | 53 comments Just changed my vote to In Praise of Folly. I really don't want Proust twice in a row & might even bail out of reading Swann's Way if Proust wins (I was planning to start reading on the weekend, but I'll keep an eye on the poll)--I'd rather read the whole thing on my own than feel like I'm missing out on half a conversation that I'm participating in or forced to keep reading (since I haven't started yet, it makes the decision that much easier).


message 34: by [deleted user] (new)

Lily wrote: "When will the poll close?
Found it in the poll comments: "Ends at: November 21st"
Which probably means the day before to be safe."


Based on past experience, yeah, I think that today, the 20th, will be the last day we can vote or change our votes, if the end date is the 21st. Maybe the poll closes at midnight EST? Not sure of that detail but I'm pretty sure I remember we cannot vote on the day that is said to be the end date.


message 35: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments The poll has closed, and we have a two choices far ahead of the pack -- The Iliad with 9 votes and Within a Budding Grove with 8 votes. I'll put up a run-off poll to go through Sunday (making Saturday the last day to vote).


message 36: by Casey (new)

Casey | 8 comments I'm certainly happy about reading either of those, but as others have suggested it might be nice to take a break between Proust volumes. Either way, I'm looking forward to the Winter read!


message 37: by Jim (new)

Jim Casey wrote: "I'm certainly happy about reading either of those, but as others have suggested it might be nice to take a break between Proust volumes. Either way, I'm looking forward to the Winter read!"

Speaking of which, only 14 people have voted in the runoff poll. Vote early, vote often!


message 38: by [deleted user] (new)

Thanks, Jim. I hadn't realized the runoff poll was up. Everyman is so efficient!


message 39: by Ibis3 (new)

Ibis3 | 53 comments Jim wrote: "Speaking of which, only 14 people have voted in the runoff poll. Vote early, vote often! "

I can't vote in good conscience because I don't want to read Proust #2 right away (and presumably all the rest in succession), but I've already read The Iliad and won't be joining a discussion of it if it is selected, so it would be unfair for me to vote for it "strategically".


message 40: by Thomas (new)

Thomas | 4409 comments I read the Iliad last summer. It gets better every time, though I usually wait more than a few months before re-reading... but once more into the breach! (If it turns out that way. Otherwise, back to the soiree!)


message 41: by Dee (new)

Dee (deinonychus) | 291 comments I'm really excited about both these choices. I've voted for Proust, as I think it would be great to carry on with him, but would love to read the Iliad. Whichever one wins, I shall probably find myself reading the other in the next few months anyway.


message 42: by Lily (last edited Nov 22, 2011 05:02PM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 4993 comments Ibis3 wrote: "...it would be unfair for me to vote for it "strategically"...."

That's so decent of you! I know that's the guideline, but it is nice to recognize it being honored!

I am betwixt and between. I never dreamed that I would remotely consider two books of Proust in succession, yet that is where I am leaning, even though I didn't vote such in the original poll. I know Eman does a fab job of hosting the Iliad, but I am just not sure I'm ready for a re-read right now. Unlike you, Ibis, I might still join in the discussion if it is selected, perhaps pulling my CDs and listening. Still, after all these years of false starts, Proust is enticing. And this group has so many knowledgeable participants. So, I'll wait a bit yet.


message 43: by [deleted user] (new)

I withdrew my vote because I keep changing my mind, and if it ends up all hingeing on one vote, as has happened a few times since I've been around, I don't want to be responsible!


message 44: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments I don't see any need as far as I'm concerned for anybody to unvote, but if they do, I didn't see a way to withdraw a vote (though maybe M found a secret way). But just in case, I added an option to the poll to change your vote to, which will unvote it from either of the two main choices.


message 45: by Adelle (new)

Adelle | 127 comments Thanks, Everyman. I am looking forward to reading Homer, it will be the 2nd time...so It will be a richer read.


message 46: by [deleted user] (new)

Everyman wrote: "I don't see any need as far as I'm concerned for anybody to unvote, but if they do, I didn't see a way to withdraw a vote (though maybe M found a secret way). But just in case, I added an option t..."

Yes, I did find a secret way. :-D. If you click on "change your vote" but then just leave the page instead of voting again, when you return you'll find that your original vote has disappeared.


message 47: by Adelle (new)

Adelle | 127 comments M wrote: "..."

Thank you, M.

(I suddenly feel as though I were in a Bond movie.)


message 48: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Well, the poll ended in a dead tie. Which has never happened before. So here's what I'm going to do.

Since all three moderators who voted all voted for the Iliad, I'm going to give the moderators as a group the deciding vote, which means the official reading for January will be the Iliad.

However, recognizing the strong interest in continuing with Proust, I will add a topic to the current Proust discussion group for Within a Budding Grove, so that those who really want to continue with Proust will have a place to do so.

I am a bit concerned that this will take some regular posters away from the Iliad discussion and so diminish the number of participants and the quality of the discussion, but I'm willing to give this a try to see whether this group can sustain two discussions simultaneously. I certainly encourage those who choose to continue with Proust also to participate on the main Iliad reading and discussion so that it is as robust and rich as possible.


message 49: by Ibis3 (new)

Ibis3 | 53 comments Everyman wrote: "Well, the poll ended in a dead tie. Which has never happened before. So here's what I'm going to do.

Since all three moderators who voted all voted for the Iliad, I'm going to give the moderator..."


I'd also be a little concerned that the Proust group will be split in two. Presumably those people who read Swann's Way but want to take a break before continuing will want to read The Budding Grove after The Iliad (or maybe some of them will, and others will not). It could get very messy.


message 50: by Thomas (new)

Thomas | 4409 comments Ibis3 wrote: "I'd also be a little concerned that the Proust group will be split in two. Presumably those people who read Swann's Way but want to take a break before continuing will want to read The Budding Grove after The Iliad..."

The discussions are never entirely closed, so it is possible that some will choose to read one selection and return to the other at a later date. I am interested in reading the next volume of ISOLT, but not immediately. I like the idea that I might be able to read comments on Budding Grove even when the reading is completed.


« previous 1
back to top