Those of you familiar with the Monty Python movie “The Meaning of Life” will be indelibly scarred by the enormously obese Mr Creosote and the result of him indulging in one last “wafer-thin” mint. If you haven’t seen this skit, it can be found on YouTube but beware – don’t watch after eating, experiencing an upset tummy or with a severe hangover.
The reason I mention him is to do with my similar inability to resist – in this case another book list. Having already committed to reading as much classic literature in chronological order as I can manage in my remaining years (which I currently estimate as 1300 – titles not years that is), and assorted other challenges (stand up Martin Edwards’ Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books) and certain authors’ collected works (Wodehouse, Christie), I found my gaze lingering today far too long on 1001 Children’s Books to Read before You Grow Up by Julia Eccleshare.
Already owning 1001 Movies … and 1001 Walks …, I didnt feel inclined to buy said title, but there it sat in the stack shelves of my library. So of course I had to borrow it.
I can feel the stomach walls giving way as I type …… beware!
My work week is split fairly evenly between a bookshop and a public library. At the former, I see new books arrive all the time and which books people are buying or waiting for, and which authors have new titles about to be published. At the latter I see what people borrow or request, and what is on the shelves from the last ten to fifteen years as I shelve the returns. At least half the titles are fiction. I am surrounded day and night by literally thousands of books! And of course, it’s not just the books on the open shelves – I can browse the library stacks of low use titles, I can access the childrens’ and teen collections without feeling like an intruder, I can even score an occasional damaged book from the bookshop or an uncorrected proof copy of a new release. And unlike the university library I used to work in, I can imagine wanting to read a goodly percentage of the books about me now.
When I was young, reading was my consuming hobby, being neither sporty or adventurous. At university studying sciences, my reading for pleasure waned. While never completely stopped, it is only in the past few years that my reading has returned to those high levels of childhood.
Surrounded by books all day, I now feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of books I haven’t read. I will never get to read them all. This dismay is part of the reason for this enormous quest and blog.
“So many books, so little time”. Is there a word for this?
The meta-literary bloggers website Classics Club (https://theclassicsclubblog.wordpress.com/author/theclassicsclubblog/) is running another spin starting Monday June 6 and finishing August 1. The idea is to pick 20 of your to-read books, and when the spin number (1-20) is announced on Monday, to read your corresponding book before the August deadline.
My spin on their spin (which I achieved – just – last time) is to read up to their number before the deadline e.g. if the number is 14, I have to read all books 1-14 on my list. Since I have at least 20 Greek plays in order to read next before striking out into the more intellectual forests of Plato and Aristotle, this seems a good way of pushing through. Wish me luck!
So my next twenty books are, in order,
||The women of Troy
||Iphigenia among the Taurians
||The Phonecian Women
||Oedipus at Colonus
||Iphigenia at Aulis
||The Ecclesiazusae (Assemblywomen)
Every month the Classics Club asks its members a question about their reading, or sets them a small challenge. These things are totally optional, and I haven’t partaken as yet. At least, not until now.
The current challenge is called a Classics Spin. Instructions are to take 20 titles from your identified to-read list, number them 1-20, and on Monday 7th March, they will announce a number between 1 and 20. Members are then challenged to read the corresponding title from their own lists matching that number by the 2nd May. i can imagine someone somewhere ready with a gigantic chocolate wheel, or blindfolded and aiming at a dartboard, but the reality is probably an online random number generator such as https://www.random.org/
As it is reasonably important to my project to read my titles in their specific order, I wondered how I could apply this challenge to my list. Since the next couple of dozen titles I have are short plays, what I have decided is to list the next twenty plays, and when the Club announces the target number, try to read all the titles up to that number before the due date in May. So readers of this blog (yes, both of you!) will hopefully see a lot more activity in March and April.
The list is
1. Sophocles : The Trachiniae (Women of Trachis)
2. Euripides : The Heracleidae (Children of Heracles)
3. Sophocles : Oedipus the King
4. Euripides : Hippolytus
5. Euripides : Andromache
6. Aristophanes : The Acharnians
7. Euripides : Hecuba
8. Aristophanes : The Knights
9. Euripides : The Suppliants
10. Aristophanes : The Wasps
11. Aristophanes : Peace
12. Euripides : Electra
13. Aristophanes : The Clouds
14. Euripides : Heracles
15. Aristophanes : The Birds
16. Euripides : Ion
17. Euripides : Iphigenia among the Taurians
18. Euripides : Helen
19. Aristophanes : The Thesmophoriazusae
20. Aristophanes : Lysistrata
I will come back on Monday and let you know the number.
Just found the perfect blog site : The Classics Club here at wordpress https://theclassicsclubblog.wordpress.com/
The goal is to support classics reading by posting a list (and I love lists!) of 50+ classics I intend to read and blog about in the next five years. Since my blog is all about reading the classics in order, this should not be a hard list to create. So here goes for 2016 ….
Aeschylus : The Persians √
Aeschylus : Seven against Thebes √
Aeschylus : The Suppliant Maidens √
Aeschylus : Agamemnon √
Aeschylus : The Choephori (Libation Bearers) √
Aeschylus : The Eumenides (Furies) √
Herodotus : History of the Persian War [Histories] √
Sophocles : Antigone √
Sophocles : Ajax √
Euripides : Alcestis √
Euripides : Medea √
Thucylides : History of the Peloponnesian War √
Aeschylus : Prometheus Bound √
Sophocles : The Trachiniae (Women of Trachis) √
Euripides : The Heracleidae (Children of Heracles) √
Sophocles : Oedipus the King √
Euripides : Hippolytus √
Euripides : Andromache √
Aristophanes : The Acharnians √
Euripides : Hecuba √
Aristophanes : The Knights √
Euripides : The Suppliants √
Aristophanes : The Wasps √
Aristophanes : Peace √
Euripides : Electra √
Aristophanes : The Clouds √
Euripides : Heracles √
Aristophanes : The Birds √
Euripides : Ion √
Euripides : Iphigenia among the Taurians √
Euripides : Helen √
Aristophanes : The Thesmophoriazusae √
Aristophanes : Lysistrata √
Euripides : The Phonecian Women √
Sophocles : Philoctetes √
Euripides : The Cyclops √
Euripides : Orestes √
Sophocles : Oedipus at Colonus √
Sophocles : Electra √
Euripides : The Bacchae √
Euripides : Iphigenia at Aulis √
Aristophanes : The Frogs √
Aristophanes : The Ecclesiazusae (Assemblywomen) √
Aristophanes : Wealth
Euripides : Rhesus √
Hippocrates : The Hippocratic Oath √
Xenophon : Anabasis
Xenophon : Cyropaedia
Xenophon : Hellenica
Xenophon : Agesilaus
Xenophon : Memoribilia, Apology, Economics, Symposium
Xenophon : Hiero and other treatises
Welcome to Chronolit, a blogging site for my (and hopefully your) journey through 4,000 years of classic literature. Each week I will try to read a classic work of literature, starting from the earliest works and reading in chronological order (hence the name of the blog), comment on it, and invite you to comment too. I am NOT an English Literature professor, I can’t read languages other than English, and I do work full time, so if I can do this, so can you. My comments won’t be full of obscure literary analysis, so it is meant for everyone to join in. Read with me, or check in every now and then to see where I am.
I will start with the Epic of Gilgamesh, which is presently the oldest known piece of literature, dating back to somewhere around 2000 BC. Then I will move through the Ancient Greek world with a few diversions along the way to India and China.
I have the advantage of access to a University Library collection of literature, so I don’t need to buy every title (although I might buy copies of those I like the best) If you would like to buy each title as we go along, I guess you will need $10-$20 per week, plus enough shelf space for a few thousand books if you go with paper. 🙂
Other options would be
By the way, the last mentioned site Great Books and Classics can be sorted chronologically and that will form the basis of our journey to start with. I found the site while searching last night so I haven’t had a lot of experience with it, but it looks very comprehensive for our purposes.
That’s enough for now. All going well, my comments on Gilgamesh will appear in the next few days. Also the occasional surprise diversion may well appear, or any interesting lists I come across and want to share. (I love lists!) I hope you will join me.