Category: Great Books

Ajax, Hecuba, and Vietnam

The image above is taken from a stage adaptation of the Iliad, now performing at ArtsEmerson. A group of Core students is venturing downtown to see this production, titled An Iliad, putting us in mind here on campus about the enduring relevance of this ancient text. Do our modern times still reflect that old world? […]

Meditation on Remediation

An update the front lines of the Core classrooms! This week, students are exploring Hamlet, and discovering what it means to remediate a text. Core students know better than anyone that some stories strike such a chord with the human experience that they continue to be told throughout history. Storytellers have always taken source material […]

Dare We Hope That All Men Be Saved?

Hell is everywhere we look. It is integral to religious belief systems, literature, and even popular TV shows. As editor of the new compilation “The Penguin Book of Hell,” Scott Bruce explores 3,000 years of this damnation, from Odysseus traveling to Hades to Climate Change as Hell on Earth. While doing so, he reckons with […]

Core Meets Core: Virginia Woolf on Jane Austen

In her 1913 essay, Virginia Woolf writes on the merits and failings of Jane Austen. While Woolf describes Austen as “singularly blessed,” she also critiques Austen’s lack of rebellion of her “artificial” life. For Woolf, Austen someone satirizes middle class life and the fools who inhabit it, but never fully pushes away from it. Perhaps […]

Machiavelli, Man of the People

We’ve known our share of allegedly misunderstood literary figures (lookin’ at you, Nietzsche). But is Machiavelli one of them? In The Prince, Machiavelli argues that leaders shouldn’t be objectively virtuous or truthful, but rather effective at preserving their reign. Hence a just end can excuse a leader’s horrendous acts, or “the ends justify the means.” […]

Free Books, Yours for the Claimin’

The end of the year is looming, and we want to make sure our orphan books go to good homes before the snows begin to fall here in Boston. Core has an inventory of hundreds and hundreds of used books, donations from members of the Core community. We invite you — students, alumni, and friends […]

The First Woman to Translate the Odyssey into English

“Find the beginning.” “Tell me about a complicated man,” reads the first line of classicist Emily Wilson’s new translation of the Odyssey. Published this month, November 2017, the book marks the first time a woman has translated Homer’s epic poem into English. Called “lively, fast-paced” and “contemporary and exciting” by reviewers (indeed, “radically contemporary” according […]

From The Guardian: House of Names by Colm Tibn brilliant retelling of a Greek tragedy

Colm Toibin is an author whose latest novel, House of Names, a retelling of a Aeschylus’ The Oresteia, has graced fine book stores everywhere. Alex Preston, writing forThe Guardian, notes, however: I say ostensibly a retelling, because House of Names gives us so much that isnt in the original trilogy (and excludes so much that […]

From The Times Literary Supplement: Immense chaos of feeling

From Rousseau’s unprecedented confessions to Hong Kingston’sWarrior Women and China Men, Alex Zwerdling traces the history of the memoir in hisThe Rise of the Memoir, reviewed by Frances Wilson for the TLS. The difficulty with memoirs is that they are written to be memorable; enough so to be a steady source of profit after ones […]

From Inside Higher Ed: Democratizing the Great Books

John Dewey’s classic book on education, “Democracy and Education,” is one of the indispensable contributions to civics that we’d do well to be revisit in our present time. A timely reminder of this appears in Inside Higher Ed, in an article by three Professors who report some of the interesting points from a daylong conference […]