My Spring Semester Reading List

Published January 17, 2016 by Iphis of Scyros

I thought, since classes start in the coming week, I’d post my reading list for the Intellectual History class.  So that if my posts become sporadic and/or practically stop coming, you’ll know the reason why.  (Okay, actually, it’s unlikely to be anywhere near that bad.  But…)

So, in alphabetical order, by author’s name:

  1. Philosophy of Aristotle, by Aristotle (duh)
  2. Discourse on Method & Related Works by Rene Descartes
  3. History of Sexuality, Vol. 1 by Michel Foucault
  4. Civilization & Its Discontents by Sigmund Freud
  5. Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes
  6. Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysics by Immanuel Kant
  7. Existentialism: From Dostoevsky to Sartre edited by Walter Kaufmann
  8. Second Treatise of Government by John Locke
  9. The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx
  10. Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche (but I prefer the German version of the title)
  11. The Symposium by Plato
  12. The Republic by Plato
  13. Reveries of the Solitary Walker by Jean-Jacques Rousseau
  14. Rousseau’s Political Writings by Jean-Jacques Rousseau (duh)
  15. Darwinian Revolution by Michael Ruse
  16. Scientific Revolution by Steven Shapin

If the professor follows his usual pattern, we’ll be reading one a week, and also writing a short reaction paper to the book in that same week.  The papers, I suspect, are more so he can be sure we actually read the books than anything else.  (He didn’t return them to us last time I had him, so it’s hard to say for sure.)

Fortunately, none of them are very long.  I had thought The Republic was a long one, but I must have been confusing it with something else.  (Laws, maybe.  That’s the one Plato wrote by the time he’d become a bitter old man who detested the very idea of love, and insisted that sex ought to be exclusively for the purpose of procreation.  Um, that was probably actually a very small part of it, of course, but that part was brought up in The Greeks and Greek Love, so that’s all I really know about it, as philosophy is not really my bag.)  The longest book in the list is Darwinian Revolution, which is actually a history book!  Yes, this history class has only two history books on the reading list.  Both, curiously enough, having the word “Revolution” in the title.  (I remember seeing Scientific Revolution at the book store and thinking it looked interesting, so I’m looking forward to that one.  Likewise, I’ve been meaning to check out Foucault’s History of Sexuality for some time…though I decided not to buy the second volume until I’ve read the first one, just in case it turns out I don’t like (or understand) his writing.)  I’m pleased to say that the Freud book has huge print as well as being fairly short.

The book on Existentialism is, as you can tell from its title, an anthology of selections from various authors.  The authors are Soren Kierkegaard, Jose Ortega y Gasset, Martin Heidegger, Jean-Paul Sartre, Fyoder Mikhailovich Dostoevsky (I really hope the bit in here isn’t as agonizing to read as The Brothers Karamozov!), Friedrich Nietzsche, Rainer Maria Rilke, Franz Kafka, Karl Jaspers, and Albert Camus.

I have a sinking feeling that a lot of the reading for this course will be like bashing my head against a brick wall.  But this is a really important class for me to take, because it will indirectly impact heavily on my thesis, so I’m gonna do it, and I’m gonna do it to the best of my ability.

I’ll try to keep my complaints to a minimum while I’m at it, but I won’t lie and say “no complaining,” because that’s just not going to happen.  I’m too whiny by nature to totally suppress my need to complain.  (Wow, that was a crazy thing to admit.)  I’ll try to keep most of my complaints oral, rather than letting them spill out textually on the blog, but I can’t guarantee that’ll happen.  (Missing Letter Mondays may become contaminated by my reading list as well…not much I can do about that, unless I pre-write the whole semester’s worth of posts in the next three days, which is just not gonna happen.  I haven’t even written tomorrow‘s post yet.)

I’m curious to get to the Camus excerpt in the anthology book:  it’s about the myth of Sisyphus.  (Probably just using it as a springboard to get elsewhere, but still.)

Oh, btw, if anyone’s interested in learning about the contents of any of these books, let me know, and I’ll post a book report on them after I read them.  (Ugh, that reminds me, I’m pretty sure I still have some book reports I meant to write and didn’t yet.  Did I ever write one for The Death and Afterlife of Achilles?  I think I did, but I’m not sure.  I should check that…)

I’m currently reading the Argonautica of Apollonius of Rhodes, and I can see already why I had always felt it wasn’t really worth reading.  It’s kind of…um…well, the Odyssey it ain’t.  (And it’s even less the Iliad, but given the very different structure of the story, that wouldn’t be a fair comparison.)  I’ll post about it when I finish it.  My for-fun reading list for the coming semester will include The Transvestite Achilles, which I bought last semester, which is largely focused on Statius’ Achilleis, as well as other accounts of Achilles’ time on Scyros, and will be very important for my thesis, as well as hopefully being a fun read.  (Yes, I just said that an analysis of a somewhat sub-par, unfinished Latin epic(?) should be a fun read.  Maybe there’s something wrong with me.)  Also, my Christmas books:  The Riddle of the Labyrinth, about the deciphering of Linear B, and Catiline: The Monster of Rome, which is actually about how Cicero framed Catiline.  And, of course, my recent purchase of The Priapus Poems.  (That’ll probably get read first, because it’s a paperback, so I can read it in the bath.  Also it’s shortest and simplest.)

I should probably put some fiction on my TBR list at some point…

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