What is wrong, and why we can’t seem to fix it

Throughout most of my life I have been living under conservative governments, and the nicest way I can find to describe political conservatism is to say that it embodies the popular phrase ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. However, as we all know there are many things wrong at present, and they need fixing. No amount of ignoring them will make them go away. This blog is about those awkward facts of world that won’t go away and which political conservatism won’t make go away either.

What I’m going to aim to do is post a blog once a week, on a Friday, so you can digest it over the weekend. The next week’s blog will either be the next in my series, or a discussion of issues that have arisen from the comments.

I’m going to have a very strict comments policy, comment will only be accepted if they are intelligent and polite contributions to discussion around the topic of the post. Everything else will be moderated.

If you find a blog here sympathetic, you might consider reading the blogs from the beginning, as they are supposed to be a more or less continuous argument.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

100 Great Books

As a follow up to last week’s discussion of the dearth of literature in our age, here is a list of 100 Great Books that I wrote some time ago in response to a challenge by a friend. You will note that the nearer we come in time to the present the more my choices are historical or scientific, I think it will be obvious why. I think that the most recent works are also the most provisional, because with the other works time has winnowed them, but with these works this has not yet happened.

The list is in chronological order.

The Illiad (C8 BCE)
The Odyssey (C7 BCE)
Sappho, Poems and Fragments (C7 BCE)
Book of Songs (C5 BCE)
Herodotus, Histories (450s-440s BCE)
Aristophanes, Plays (420s-380s BCE)
Te Tao Ching (C3 BCE)
Sun Tzu, The Art of War (C3 BCE)
The Chuang Tzu (C3 BCE and later)
Biblical and Apocryphal Wisdom Literature (C3-C1 BCE)
Catullus, Poems (60s-50s BCE)
Ovid, Metamorphoses (8 CE)
Tacitus, Works (90s-110s CE)
Suetonius, The Twelve Caesars (110s-120s CE)
Apuleius, The Golden Ass (160s CE)
Li Bo, Poems (730s-760s)
Du Fu, Poems (730s-760s)
Beowulf (C8 CE)
The Tain (C8 CE)
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (C8-C11 CE)
Old English Riddles (C9-C10 CE)
Khayyam, Rubaiyyat (C11 CE)
The Troubadour Corpus (C11-C13 BCE)
Mediaeval English Lyrics (C13-C15 CE)
Njal’s Saga (c 1280)
Ap Gwilym, Poems (c 1340s)
Chaucer, Poems (1370s-1400)
Childe, Traditional Ballads (C14-C18 CE)
Malory, Mort D’Arthur (1450s-1460s)
Dunbar, Poems (1490s-1510s)
Skelton, Poems (1490s-1510s)
Eramus, In Praise of Folly (1511)
Elizabethan Song-book Verse (C16 CE)
Montaigne, Essays (1560s-80s)
Shakespeare, Plays and Poems (1590s-1610s)
Jonson, Plays and Poems (1590s-1620s)
Cervantes, Don Quixote (1590s-1610s)
Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy (1610s-1630s)
Ray, Flora of Cambridgeshire (1660)
Traherne, Poems and Prose (1660s)
Molière, Plays (1660s-1670s)
Aubrey, Brief Lives (1670s-1680s)
Hume, Treatise of Human Nature (1740)
White, Natural History of Selbourne (1760s)
Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1760s-1780s)
Smith, The Wealth of Nations (1774)
Boswell, Life of Johnson (1780s-1790s)
English Folk-Song (collections of) (C18-C19 CE)
Clare, Poems (1810s-1850s)
Coleridge, Biographia Literaria (1816)
Melville, Moby Dick (1851)
Darwin, On the Origin of Species (1859)
Darwin, The Descent of Man (1871)
Dickinson, Poems (1850s-1880s)
Hardy, Poems (1860s-1920s)
Rimbaud, Poems (1860s-1870s)
The Oxford English Dictionary (1880s ->)
Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest (1894)
Conrad, Nostromo (1904)
Tovey, Essays in Musical Analysis (1900s-1930s)
Thomas (Edward), Poems (1910s)
Akhmatova, Poems (1910s-1960s)
Rilke, Dunio Elegies (1910s-1920s)
Graves, Poems (1910s-1970s)
Vallejo, Poems (1910s-1930s)
Graves, Goodbye to All That (1929)
Borges, Poems (1920s-1970s)
Riding, Poems (1920s-1930s)
Hudson, Nature in Downland (1923)
Sturt, In the Wheelwright’s Shop (1923)
Heidegger, Being and Time (1927)
Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1930)
Graves, I, Claudius and Claudius the God (1934-5)
Orwell, Essays and Journalism (1930s-1940s)
Borges, Fictions (1930s-1970s)
Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations (1940s)
Graves, White Goddess (1948, 1962)
Pearsall, Mountains and Moorlands (1950, 1971)
Ostragorsky, The History of the Byzantine State (1952, 1969)
Graves, Nazarene Gospel Restored (1953)
Durrell, My Family and Other Animals (1956)
Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962, 1970)
Chang Chung-yuan, Creativity and Taoism (1963)
The Oxford Book of Food Plants (1969, 1997)
Brunskill, Illustrated Handbook of Vernacular Architecture (1971)
Strehlow, The Songs of Central Australia (1971)
Lewis (David), We, the Navigators (1972)
Le Brun Holmes (Sandra), Yirrawala: Painter of the Dreaming (1973)
Foucault, Discipline and Punish (1975)
Lack, Island Biology as Illustrated by the Land Birds of Jamaica (1976)
Simpson, Robert, Carl Nielsen Symphonist (2nd Ed 1979)
Stewart (Harold), The Old Walls of Kyoto (1981)
Rackham, History of the Countryside (1986)
Munro, Emerarra: Man of Merarra (1996)
Banfield, Gerald Finzi: an English Composer (1997)
Dixon and Koch, Dyirabal Song Poetry (1996)
Dixon, The Rise and Fall of Languages (1997)
Cavilli Sforza, Genes, People, Languages (2000)
Rackham, Nature of Mediterranean Europe (2001)
Mayr and Diamond, Birds of Northern Melanesia (2001)

Next Week: More on literature

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