Sunday, September 07, 2008

50 Greatest Books - An Update

Back in July I rambled on a bit about The Globe and Mail's 50 Greatest Books feature. I figure it is now about time for an update, especially given that they failed to put the Books section in print for much of August, forcing us online for a weekly fix of the best seller list and 50 Greatest Books.

So, in the Mad Tales discussion, we left off after #28 Moby Dick.

Here's what's happened since:

29th entry: Madame Bovary
30th entry: Kafka's The Complete Stories
31st entry: The King James Bible
32nd entry: Principia Mathematica
33rd entry: The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats
34th entry: Galileo's Dialogue
35th entry: The Theban Trilogy

So, basically, we haven't hit any of my must-haves, but we do have a couple of my expected titles. With only 15 titles left to be announced I am having trouble figuring out how they are going to pick. I'm sure glad it isn't me.

Of these titles, a lot make sense. Galileo's text caused one of the great paradigm shifts in the development of humanity. Something similar is true of the Principia Mathematica. Though, as far as literature goes, I think the dialogue is infinitely more readable than Principia Mathematica. The Theban Trilogy are still some of the most studied and discussed pieces of dramatic literature in the world. For a reason. They are good plays.

I haven't read any Kafka. I know. I'm shocked too. So I can't comment on that, or on Madame Bovary. And, really, I'm no judge of poetry. I have no idea why Yeats might be considered more important that Byron, or Blake, or Wordsworth, or any of those other master poets we still hear about. Anyone?

I found the article on the King James Bible very interesting. The idea that this text shaped the development of the English language is fairly new to me. The discussion of how this version of the text changed the way people thought about religion is also telling, and something every fundamentalist out there should have a bit of a think about.

It will be interesting to see where this list goes from here. There are far too many worthy texts to fill the remaining 15 spots.

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