Posted on November 7, 2009 by Tom Angleberger
I recently finished listening to a hefty chunk of The Teaching Company’s lecture series “Books that Made History: Book that Will Change Your Life.”
In this Prof. Rufus Fears has assembled a list of The Great Books and walks us through them in an entertaining, inspiring fashion. There’s a lot of non-fiction on his list, of course. But let’s look at just the fiction choices:
- The Iliad
- The Orestaia
- The Bacchae
- The Divine Comedy
- All Quiet on the Western Front
- The Death of King Arthur
- Prometheus Bound
- The Aenied
What’s the common thread here? Except for a very few — Othello, All Quiet on the Western Front, maybe the Orestaia — they’re all fantasy books. (1984 is the sole sci-fi selection, so it’ll have to be lumped in with fantasy on this one occasion.)
I mean we’ve got it all here — swords and sorcery, a monster or two in Beowulf, a Champion or 30 in The Iliad, (a Companion to Champions, too, in Gilgamesh, I believe), a Satanic poodle in Faust, angry Gods, etc… Heck, there might even be fanfic in there, i.e. The Aenied and The Divine Comedy.
So is Fears a closet Fantasy nut or is it simply that most of the greatest books ever written are Fantasy — illuminating the human condition with tales of the inhuman?
Filed under: kidlit |