Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Reading Group Is Closed

Dear Readers,

The Arete Classical Reading program and study loop is closed now. I have enjoyed leading you through the study of the great books for almost seven years. Now that I am a full time doctoral student and teaching at Grand Canyon University, I do not have time to maintain this reading list. However, at the request of the readers on the Yahoo Study loop, I am keeping all the reading list materials on this blog, and I am also leaving all the study materials in the file archives. I wish you all the best as you continue to self-educate and learn from the great masters of Western Civilization!


Sunday, April 29, 2012

2012 Reading Schedule

Welcome to 2012 and the new year's reading schedule. This year we move out of the high middle ages and Renaissance, and open the door to the Age of Reason and Revolutions. Our historical period will cover approximately1600-1800. Note: biographical information provided through http://www.wikipedia.org.

Major Events of this Period:
  • The Thirty Years War
  • The English settle Jamestown
  • The English Civil War
  • The American Revolution
  • The French Revolution
Major Authors of the Period:
  • John Milton
  • Jonathan Swift
  • Alexander Pope
  • Thomas Paine
  • Thomas Jefferson
Selected Works:

This year our focus is on major authors of the period. The following selections have been chosen for your reading pleasure.

1. John Milton

John Milton (9 December 1608 – 8 November 1674) was an English poet, polemicist, a scholarly man of letters, and a civil servant for the Commonwealth (republic) of England under Oliver Cromwell. He wrote at a time of religious flux and political upheaval, and is best known for his epic poem Paradise Lost.

2. Jonathan Swift

Jonathan Swift (30 November 1667 – 19 October 1745) was an Anglo-Irish[2] satirist, essayist, political pamphleteer (first for the Whigs, then for the Tories), poet and cleric who became Dean of St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin.

3. Alexander Pope

Alexander Pope (21 May 1688 – 30 May 1744) was an 18th-century English poet, best known for his satirical verse and for his translation of Homer. He is the third-most frequently quoted writer in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, after Shakespeare and Tennyson.[1] Pope's use of the heroic couplet is famous.

The following works can be accessed here: http://rpo.library.utoronto.ca/poets/pope-alexander
  • Essay on Criticism
  • Essay on Man
  • Rape of the Lock
4. Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine (January 29, 1737 [1] (NS February 9, 1737) – June 8, 1809) was an English American author, pamphleteer, radical, inventor, intellectual, revolutionary, and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States.[2] He has been called "a corsetmaker by trade, a journalist by profession, and a propagandist by inclination."[3]
5. Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743 (April 2, 1743 O.S.) – July 4, 1826) was an American Founding Father who was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence (1776) and the third President of the United States (1801–1809). At the beginning of the American Revolution, Jefferson served in the Continental Congress, representing Virginia. He then served as a wartime Governor of Virginia (1779–1781). Just after the war ended, from mid-1784 Jefferson served as a diplomat, stationed in Paris, initially as a commissioner to help negotiate commercial treaties. In May 1785, he became the United States Minister to France. He was the first United States Secretary of State (1790–1793) during the administration of President George Washington. Upon resigning his office, with his close friend James Madison he organized the Democratic-Republican Party. Elected Vice-President in 1796, under his opponent John Adams, Jefferson with Madison secretly wrote the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, which attempted to nullify the Alien and Sedition Acts and formed the basis of states' rights.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Fall Schedule 2011

Fall is finally here! Our summer reading session has come to a close and we are ready to tackle some new books for the next study period. On tap are several wonderful choices selected the very end of the period, 1400-1599.

Once again, we are going to allow readers to choose which books they would like to read over the next few months.

William Shakespeare
Option 1:  William Shakespeare's Plays and Sonnets

Any good reading program must contain it's fair share of Shakespeare, and our group is not to be left out. Therefore, this fall, readers who are not familiar with the plays of Shakespeare may want to read one or more of the following choices:

All other plays can be accessed via Bartleby.com's Oxford Shakespeare webpages.

In addition to the above plays, readers may want to also read through the Sonnets, which can be found here as well.

John Donne
Option 2: John Donne, Poems and Sermons

Readers may wish to read from a selection of John Donne's poems as well as his most famous sermons. A nice selection of poems can be accessed via Luminarium's website.

Izzak Walton's brief biography of John Donne is a nice compliment to reading the poems and sermons. You can find it here:  http://www.bartleby.com/15/2/

Thomas Hobbes
Option 3: Thomas Hobbes "The Leviathan"

For readers interested in reading Hobbes, consider "The Leviathan" as an alternative to our other selections. You can find a very nice HTML formatted version via Oregon State's website.

Discussion questions as well as some general background information and study notes can be accessed via Sparknotes. General biographical information can be found via Wikipedia or another online encyclopedia.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Summer Courses, 2011

Well, summer has finally arrived here in Phoenix, and we are experiencing daily high temperatures in the upper 90's to low 100's (F and not C). It is a good time to stay indoors and read, so here is the summer schedule.

I have decided to offer this summer as an elective, and allow readers several books to read instead of just one. Perhaps this will generate more interest in the courses offered.
  • Option 1: Miguel de Cervantes, "Don Quixote"
  • Option 2: Edmund Spenser's, "The Faerie Queene"
  • Option 3: Christopher Marlowe's, "Doctor Faustus"
All three book choices span our period, 1400-1599, and are well-known novels.

Readers are free to choose to read one of the above books or they can choose to read them all. I will provide links and textual information for easy reading online as well as for finding hard copies at libraries or used book sources. Questions and other background information will be available here and in the Yahoo Group files section.

Updated Fall 2011 Schedule

For now, the following schedule seems doable. Fall readings will begin in September and run through December 2011.
  • William Shakespeare
  • John Donne
Updated Spring 2012 Schedule

For Spring 2011, the following selections will be scheduled:
  • Jonathan Swift's "Gulliver's Travels"
  • Alexander Pope's "Rape of the Lock"
  • William Wordsworth
More details will follow, so stay tuned.

Option 1: Miguel Cervante's "Don Quixote"

For readers who would like to attempt this book, my suggestion is to read this over the entire summer. It is a long book, and will require two months of consistent daily (or weekly reading) to finish it.

Online HTML Text can be found here: http://www.classicreader.com/book/1148/
Audio Book at Librivox: http://librivox.org/don-quixote-vol-1-by-miguel-de-cervantes-saavedra/
Book notes: http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/donquixote/
Study questions: http://www.columbia.edu/itc/lithum/adams/sq9.html

Option 2: Edmund Spenser's "Faerie Queene"

For readers who want to read this book in Middle English, the following links are available.

Online version: http://www.luminarium.org/renascence-editions/queene1.html
PDF Format: http://scholarsbank.uoregon.edu/xmlui/bitstream/handle/1794/784/faeriequeene.pdf?sequence=1
Audio at Librivox: http://librivox.org/the-faerie-queene-book-1-by-edmund-spenser/
Book notes: http://www.sparknotes.com/poetry/fqueen/
Canto by Canto reading guide: http://cla.calpoly.edu/~dschwart/engl331/fq.html

Option 3: Christopher Marlowe's "Doctor Faustus"

Online Text: http://pd.sparknotes.com/lit/doctorfaustus/
Audio Book at Librivox: http://librivox.org/the-tragical-history-of-doctor-faustus-by-christopher-marlowe/
Book Notes: http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/doctorfaustus/
Study Questions: http://cla.calpoly.edu/~dschwart/engl331/faustus.html

If you would like to join us this summer and read some great classical books, please feel free to visit our Yahoo Group here: http://groups.yahoo.com/areteclassical

Thursday, January 13, 2011

2011 Reading Schedule

We are still reading through the Renaissance, focusing now on the latter portion of the 16th century.  Continuing on through the 16th and into the 17-18th centuries, we will focus on the following literature, philosophy, religion, and poetry:
  • Don Quixote by Miguel Cervantes (1547-1616)
  • The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser (1552-1599)
  • Essays by Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626)
  • Doctor Faustus by Christoper Marlowe (1564-1593)
  • William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
  • Sermons by John Donne (1572-1631)
  • Paradise Lost by John Milton (1608-1674)
  • The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan (1628-1688)
  • Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift (1667-1745)
  • Essays by Alexander Pope (1688-1744)
Book links, backgound information, study notes, and other important information will be posted as soon as we finish up Sir Thomas More's, Utopia.

Utopia by Sir Thomas More

Utopia (in full: Libellus vere aureus, nec minus salutaris quam festivus, de optimo rei publicae statu deque nova insula Utopia) is a work of fiction by Thomas More published in 1516. English translations of the title include A Truly Golden Little Book, No Less Beneficial Than Entertaining, of the Best State of a Republic, and of the New Island Utopia (literal) and A Fruitful and Pleasant Work of the Best State of a Public Weal, and of the New Isle Called Utopia (traditional).[1] (See "title" below.) The book, written in Latin, is a frame narrative primarily depicting a fictional island society and its religious, social and political customs.


Background on Sir Thomas More
Sir Thomas More (pronounced /ˈmɔr/; February 7, 1478[1] – July 6, 1535), also known as Saint Thomas More, was an English lawyer, social philosopher, author, statesman and noted Renaissance humanist. He was an important counsellor to Henry VIII of England and for three years toward the end of his life he was Lord Chancellor. He is also recognised as a saint within the Catholic Church and in the Anglican Communion.[2] He was an opponent of the Protestant Reformation and of Martin Luther and William Tyndale.

More coined the word "utopia" - a name he gave to the ideal, imaginary island nation whose political system he described in Utopia, published in 1516. He opposed the king's separation from the papal church and denied that the king was the Supreme Head of the Church of England, a status the king had been given by a compliant parliament through the Act of Supremacy of 1534. He was imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1534 for his refusal to take the oath required by the First Succession Act, because the act disparaged the power of the Pope and Henry’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon. In 1535 he was tried and executed for treason by beheading. More was beatified by the Catholic Church in 1886 and canonised, with John Fisher, in 1935. In 1980, he was added to the Church of England's calendar of saints.


Articles from Luminarium

Links to Online Texts

Utopia at Oregon State

Utopia at Online Literature

Utopia at Project Gutenberg

Study Notes and Guides for Utopia

Sparknotes for Utopia

Study Guide with Detailed Information

Schedule of Readings

This is a fairly short book, and could be read in a few weeks (depending on your own schedule). I would suggest reading it at your leisure and taking the time to think about what Sir Thomas More might be suggesting in this story. You might want to spend a little time and review some British History so that you can understand better why this book is so important. Thomas More lived during the reign of Henry the VIII. It was his stand against Henry's wish to divorce that eventually led to More's execution (a must see -- watch Paul Scofield's dramatization of More in the movie, "A Man for All Seasons").

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli

The Prince (Italian: Il Principe) is a political treatise by the Italian diplomat, historian and political theorist Niccolò Machiavelli. From correspondence a version appears to have been distributed in 1513, using a Latin title, De Principatibus (About Principalities). But the printed version was not published until 1532, five years after Machiavelli's death. This was done with the permission of the Medici pope Clement VII, but "long before then, in fact since the first appearance of the Prince in manuscript, controversy had swirled about his writings".[1]

Although it was written as if it were a traditional work in the Mirror of Princes style, it is generally agreed that it was especially innovative, and not only because it was written in Italian rather than Latin.[2] The Prince is sometimes claimed to be one of the first works of modern philosophy, in which the effective truth is taken to be more important than any abstract ideal. It was also in direct conflict with the dominant Catholic and scholastic doctrines of the time concerning how to consider politics and ethics.[3][4]

Although it is relatively short, the treatise is the most remembered of his works and the one most responsible for bringing "Machiavellian" into wide usage as a pejorative term. It also helped make "Old Nick" an English term for the devil, and even contributed to the modern negative connotations of the words "politics" and "politician" in western countries.[5] In terms of subject matter it overlaps with the much longer Discourses on Livy, which was written a few years later. In its use of examples who were politically active Italians who perpetrated criminal deeds for politics, another lesser-known work by Machiavelli which The Prince has been compared to is the Life of Castruccio Castracani.

The descriptions within The Prince have the general theme of accepting that ends of princes, such as glory, and indeed survival, can justify the use of immoral means to achieve those ends.[6]


Links to Online Texts


Study Notes for The Prince

Suggested Reading Schedule

This book is very short, and can be read quickly.  I would suggest reading it at your leisure, and thinking more deeply about the reasons why Machiavelli wrote this philosophical treatise.