The Great Books (Paperback)
From "The Iliad" and "The Odyssey" to Goethe's "Faust": A Journey Through 2,500 Years of the West's Classic Literature
Share this book
Anthony O’Hear presents a personal tour of the most impressive, influential and era-defining books mankind has ever produced. “Paradise Lost”, “The Canterbury Tales”, “Don Quixote”: great literature can be read by anyone, with a little help. Anthony O’Hear leads the way with this captivating journey through two-and-a-half millennia of books as dark, powerful, erotic, thrilling, politically astute and awe-inspiring as any modern bestseller. We begin with Homer, whose poems of epic struggle have made him the father of Western literature. After Greek tragedy, Plato, and Virgil’s “Aeneid” comes Ovid, whose encyclopaedic “Metamorphoses” is an inexhaustible source for European art and literature. Via St Augustine we reach Dante, the author of “The Divine Comedy”, a sublime, terrifying tour through “Hell”, “Purgatory” and an ecstatic vision of “Paradise”. Chaucer, Shakespeare, Cervantes, Milton, Pascal, Racine and finally Goethe complete the cast list. In each case, O’Hear patiently draws out themes, focuses on key passages and explains why they are important. Personal, passionate, painstakingly researched and beautifully illustrated, this is a grand work of reference. But it is also a narrative history shot through with a love of literature, and a deeply-held belief in its power to shape everyone’s world.
Anthony O’Hear is Weston Professor of Philosophy at the University of Buckingham, Director of the Royal Institute of Philosophy, and Editor of the journal Philosophy. His journalism has featured notably in the Daily Telegraph, the Daily Mail and the Express, and he is often on Radio 4’s Today programme and Radio 3’s Night Waves.