My Father's Bookcase is a personal journey through modern writing from Sir Thomas More and Niccolo Machiavelli in the early sixteenth century to Kingsley Amis and C.L.R. James in the second half of the twentieth. It consists of fifty essays,My Father's Bookcase is a personal journey through modern writing from Sir Thomas More and Niccolo Machiavelli in the early sixteenth century to Kingsley Amis and C.L.R. James in the second half of the twentieth. It consists of fifty essays, retrospective reviews, of books which the author always wanted to read or re-read, but never had the time in normal adult life. The books are an eclectic collection which include works of fiction, philosophy and history as well as travel writing and collections of essays. It argues that there is enormous scope for the re-assessment of writing away from the orthodoxies of humanism and academic scholarship. There are some books not at the highest level of writing which nevertheless must be considered very important in the history of ideas: Ivanhoe, A Christmas Carol and Tom Brown's Schooldays all fall into this category. Conversely, there are first-rate novels, like Pride and Prejudice, which aren't very important. Wordsworth's Guide to the Lakes is probably more important in the history of ideas than any of his poetry. Bookcase argues that humour, generally unstudied in universities, contains important and different ideas: examples are W.S. Gilbert, Hilaire Belloc, Sellar and Yeatman and Richmal Crompton. The author's philosophical standpoint can be described as sceptical, liberal, conservative and utilitarian with a touch of anarchism. From this standpoint he admires the free spirits - from Voltaire to Richmal Crompton and distrusts the perfecters and improvers of humanity, from Thomas More to Matthew Arnold. Above all, he regrets the specialisation of modern thought and the institutionalisation of literature which have the consequence that millions of people can consider themselves educated without having ever picked up David Hume's History of England or Samuel Smiles' Self-Help or Sir Ernest Gowers' Plain Words....Continua Nascondi
Number of pages: 324
Date of publication: 07/03/2011
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