Books to Read
closed book “The true University of these days is a Collection of Books.”
— Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881), The Hero as a Man of Letters
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Literature Books: classics to illumine your mind & inspire your heart...
Dante Alighieri, Allen Mandelbaum, 
Divine Comedy: Inferno, Purgatorio, Paradiso Dante Alighieri, Allen Mandelbaum (Translator), The Divine Comedy: Inferno, Purgatorio, Paradiso (Hardcover,1995), Knopf, ISBN: 0679433139— This splendid verse translation by Allen Mandelbaum provides an entirely fresh experience of Dante's great poem of penance, hope, and transcendence. Professor John Freccero used this edition when I took his Stanford course on Dante's Divine Comedy. As Dante ascends the Mount of Purgatory toward the Earthly Paradise and his beloved Beatrice, through “that second kingdom in which the human soul is cleansed of sin,” all the passion and suffering, poetry and philosophy are rendered with the immediacy of a poet of our own age. My favorite book is Paradiso where Dante is no longer guided by his poet-mentor Virgil, but by Beatrice, the Eternal Feminine, who leads him above to the starry realms. I'm amazed at Dante's visionary acumen as Beatrice talks about universal gravitation almost four centuries before Newton. Freccero referred me to an American Journal of Physics article that reconciled Dante's description of the heavenly spheres' momentum in terms of the 4th dimensional Einsteinian relativity. Mandelbaum has prepared extensive notes and commentary especially for this edition. Dante's Divine Comedy is worth the study of a lifetime. It's a crystalline snowflake with reflective symmetry— pure poetry from a pure heart. Avg. Review (4): 5 stars
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Philip Wayne, Faust: Part 2 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Philip Wayne (Translator), Faust: Part 2 (1960), Viking-Penguin Classics, ISBN: 0140440933— Goethe's activities as poet, statesman, theater director, critic, and scientist show him to be a genius of amazing versatility. The Faust legend preoccupied Goethe for 60 years. Part 1 was begun in his early twenties and finished in 1801 at the age of 51. His drama of the scholar who sells his soul to the devil in exchange for his youth has ranked Goethe with Dante and Shakespeare as the three literary giants of Europe. Goethe was 81 when he finished Part 2 where the drama, transposed to the spiritual plane, unfolds in scenes rich in mythological reference and imaginative speculation. When Goethe married Faust to Helen of Troy, he was not making another sexual conquest (as he did in Part 1 with Margareta) but reconciling a deep inner struggle within himself— the union of medieval romanticism with Greek classicism. Faust was Goethe's magnum opus on the unfoldment of the human soul. His work is universal and relevant to every age, a myth whereby each of us may discover our own meaning. 5 stars
Goethe, Philip Wayne (Tr.), Faust: Part 1 (reprint 1989), Viking-Penguin, ISBN: 0140440127
Henry David Thoreau, Walter Harding, Walden Henry David Thoreau, Walter Harding (Editor), Walden: An Annotated Edition (1995), Houghton Mifflin, ISBN: 0395720427— On July 4, 1845, eight days before his 28th birthday, Thoreau moved into the cabin he had built on the shore of Walden Pond— thus beginning the most famous experiment in simple living in American history. On the 150th anniversary of that event, Houghton Mifflin, successor to Thoreau's original publisher (Ticknor & Fields), has published a new edition of Walden, annotated by the distinguished Thoreau scholar Walter Harding and illustrated with Thoreau's own drawings. Even those who have read Waldenmany times will find much that is new in this edition, and those reading the book for the first time will discover why it has changed the lives of generations of readers (Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King). I have so many favorite quotes from this book, especially from Chapter XI: Higher Laws— “Man flows at once to God when the channel of purity is open.” From Harding's copious footnotes, we learn that Thoreau drank from many pure minds in the Orient— Lao Tzu, Confucius, Mencius, and the Hindu rishis. When we read Walden that purity of light flows through us. Avg. Review (1): 5 stars

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