HOW TO SPEAK AND WRITE CORRECTLY by JOSEPH DEVLIN, M.A.
CHAPTER XV: MASTERS AND MASTERPIECES OF LITERATURE
Great Authors, Classification and The World’s Best Books.
The Bible is the world’s greatest book. Apart from its character as a work of divine revelation, it is the most perfect literature extant.
Leaving out the Bible the three greatest works are those of Homer, Dante and Shakespeare. These are closely followed by the works of Virgil and Milton.
Homer, Dante, Cervantes, Shakespeare and Goethe.
(The best translation of Homer for the ordinary reader is by Chapman. Norton’s translation of Dante and Taylor’s translation of Goethe’s Faust are recommended.)
A GOOD LIBRARY
Besides the works mentioned everyone should endeavor to have the following:
Plutarch’s Lives, Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, Chaucer, Imitation of Christ (Thomas a Kempis), Holy Living and Holy Dying (Jeremy Taylor), Pilgrim’s Progress, Macaulay’s Essays, Bacon’s Essays, Addison’s Essays, Essays of Elia (Charles Lamb), Les Miserables (Hugo), Heroes and Hero Worship (Carlyle), Palgrave’s Golden Treasury, Wordsworth, Vicar of Wakefield, Adam Bede (George Eliot), Vanity Fair (Thackeray), Ivanhoe (Scott), On the Heights (Auerbach), Eugenie Grandet (Balzac), Scarlet Letter (Hawthorne), Emerson’s Essays, Boswell’s Life of Johnson, History of the English People (Green), Outlines of Universal History, Origin of Species, Montaigne’s Essays, Longfellow, Tennyson, Browning, Whittier, Ruskin, Herbert Spencer.
A good encyclopoedia is very desirable and a reliable dictionary indispensable.
MASTERPIECES OF AMERICAN LITERATURE
Scarlet Letter, Parkman’s Histories, Motley’s Dutch Republic, Grant’s Memoirs, Franklin’s Autobiography, Webster’s Speeches, Lowell’s Bigelow Papers, also his Critical Essays, Thoreau’s Walden, Leaves of Grass (Whitman), Leather-stocking Tales (Cooper), Autocrat of the Breakfast Table, Ben Hur and Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
TEN GREATEST AMERICAN POETS
Bryant, Poe, Whittier, Longfellow, Lowell, Emerson, Whitman, Lanier, Aldrich and Stoddard.
TEN GREATEST ENGLISH POETS
Chaucer, Spenser, Shakespeare, Milton, Burns, Wordsworth, Keats, Shelley, Tennyson, Browning.
TEN GREATEST ENGLISH ESSAYISTS
Bacon, Addison, Steele, Macaulay, Lamb, Jeffrey, De Quincey, Carlyle, Thackeray and Matthew Arnold.
BEST PLAYS OF SHAKESPEARE
In order of merit are: Hamlet, King Lear, Othello, Antony and Cleopatra, Macbeth, Merchant of Venice, Henry IV, As You Like It, Winter’s Tale, Romeo and Juliet, Midsummer Night’s Dream, Twelfth Night, Tempest.
ONLY THE GOOD
If you are not able to procure a library of the great masterpieces, get at least a few. Read them carefully, intelligently and with a view to enlarging your own literary horizon. Remember a good book cannot be read too often, one of a deteriorating influence should not be read at all. In literature, as in all things else, the good alone should prevail.
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