Russell’s Books 21008

Russell is getting in the game. Records last week, books this week. This is a very interesting list. As I’ve said many times before, I’ve learned more from the books I’ve read than from all those years in the classroom. I think Russell is in that same school. The world is our classroom, after all, and together through time we have learned many things. I’m going to include the comments he sent with his list.

In response to your invitation to send you a list of books
I’ve been reading or have re-read:

Selected Short Stories by Guy de Maupassant

The Decline of the West by Oswald Spengler

Ecce Homo Friedrich Nietzsche (translated by Walter Kaufmann)

The Trial and Death of Socrates by Plato

Conversations of Goethe by Johann Peter Eckermann
(I highly recommend to anyone. This is one of my most cherished books. A vast wealth of information, insight, analysis, commentary about life, art, existence written by Goethe’s close friend/apprentice/assistant Johann Peter Eckerman, taken from conversations with the greatest poet/writer/mind in German history, during the last nine years of Goethe’s life. I bought it last year and I read and study it often. Exceptionally well written and expressive.

The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy by Jacob Burckhardt
(Considered to be the best book ever written on the Italian Renaissance and it’s historical signicance.
From a review of the book:
“A brilliant piece of writing— and the source for what so many of us in my generation believed about the history of the Renaissance. The prose here was celebrated in Peter Gay’s (classic) “Style in History” for both its cool patrician detachment and deep aesthetic sense, and reading Burckhardt is a pleasure. I have a History PhD, and I’ve taught History at universities— and while there are newer visions of the place and time that are more “scientific” and based on findings and techniques unavailable to Burckhardt, “Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy” is always and ever the place to start. History grew out of literature, not science, and Burckhardt is a master of narrative and of creating a world. Witty, ironic, put together out of a mastery of sources and a wealth of cultured knowledge – you can’t begin to know 15th-c. Italy without Burckhardt.”)

What I find an invaluable guide for my reading program and journey of learning is the eloquent introductions in many of the books I choose. For example, in the Maupissant book, I learned of his key influence Flaubert, and the short story masters of the nineteenth century like Turgenev and Chekhov. So, I will at some point read some of their works next. We’ll see where the journey takes me.

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