Archive | April 20, 2009

Kulcherel Littorasy, Part 11 (in binary)

Jason Jewell has supplemented his previous list of “100 titles from various narrative genres” with a new list of 50 “non-narrative works.” He invites me to “take some more potshots”; I can hardly refuse such an invitation!

HegelMy principal potshot: why does he call this a list of non-narrative works? It includes Plato’s narrative of Socrates’ last days, as well as historical narratives by Herodotus, Thucydides, Julius Caesar, Edward Gibbon, Shelby Foote, and others. (You might think maybe he means non-fiction works, but the original list was filled with biographies and autobiographies, so that wouldn’t make the relevant contrast either.)

A few more gripes (apart from my standing gripe about the shortchanging of non-DWEM works):

  • Jason describes Hegel’s Philosophy of Right as “history proceeding through dialectic” – but although Hegel has plenty to say about history in other works, there’s in fact relatively little about history in Philosophy of Right. (It’s also a bit of an oversimplification to call Marxism “a materialistic version of Hegel’s philosophy”; the disagreements between Marx and Hegel stretch farther than just materialism versus idealism. For example, Hegel was a defender of private property and the state; Marx, not so much.)
  • I don’t think Horace “invented the genre of satire”; in what genre was, e.g., Aristophanes working?
  • Jason contrasts the “Aristotelian geocentric model” with the “Platonic heliocentric model.” Both Plato and Aristotle were geocentrists.
  • I find it hard to believe that Castiglione’s The Courtier (which advises rulers to “reduce to bondage those who are by nature such as to deserve being made slaves”) has “defined what it is to be a ‘lady’ or a ‘gentleman’ for the last 500 years.”

As with the previous lists, though, all the books on it are worth reading. Go read them now. Yes, right now.

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