Reclaiming the Canon: Essays on Philosophy, Poetry, and History

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9780300065299: Reclaiming the Canon: Essays on Philosophy, Poetry, and History

Herman Sinaiko is renowned for his gifts as a guide to exploring and appreciating the humanities. This book brings to general readers Sinaiko’s thoughts on, and invitations to read or reread, a wide selection of major literary and philosophical works from ancient Greek to Chinese to modern. Taking a conversational approach, he deals with the perennial questions that thinking people have always raised, and investigates how works of great art may provide answers to these questions.

Sinaiko reestablishes the notion that there is a canon of great works from the great traditions of the world and argues for the existence of permanent standards of excellence. He rejects most contemporary critical views of classical literature and philosophy, including those of "experts" who seek to monopolize access to great works, academics whose extreme emphasis on historical context disallows any current relevance, and theorists whose lenses distort with personal bias rather than sharpening focus on the works they discuss. Sinaiko reclaims the canon for all of us, opening up discussion on texts ranging from Plato to Tolstoy, Confucius to Mary Shelley, and encouraging each reader to listen and respond to the rich diversity of powerful views on the human condition that such great works offer.

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About the Author:

Herman L. Sinaiko is professor of humanities at the University of Chicago, where he has received both the Quantrell Award and the Amoco Prize for excellence in undergraduate teaching.

From Kirkus Reviews:

Though the title suggests another culture-war screed, this book comprises polished lectures on Homer, Plato, Tolstoy, Conrad, Yeats, and other canonical must-reads. Late in this collection of 20 essays based on classroom lectures, Sinaiko (Humanities/Univ. of Chicago) modestly notes that he left a remunerative and senior administrative position to return to something he loves, teaching. Delivered originally to audiences composed, variously, of University of Chicago undergraduates, Air Force Academy facutly, and members of the Chicago Psychoanalytic Society, these jargon-free, thoroughgoing essays never fail to hit their pedagogic mark. Unsurprisingly, many are centered on the significance of teaching and the search for knowledge, especially in Plato's Socratic dialogue Laches, as well as Tolstoy's artistically tempered didacticism in Anna Karenina and War and Peace, Confucius's Analects and the psychoanalytic procedure. There may not be a common theme linking them--even that of a college-level humanities survey course--but throughout, Sinaiko's attention to textual detail, articulate summaries, and objectivity serve him well. (The temptation to skip taking notes sometimes arises, though, during the mandatory summary of Plato's parable of the cave in the Republic or yet another discussion of Conrad's Heart of Darkness.) The closest he gets to the current controversy over the canon is in an essay on Hume's open-minded ``Of the Standard of Taste.'' There Sinaiko declares he is more worried about deserving works going unappreciated than about the decline of the Great Books, but likewise, the only way to recognize contemporary greatness is to read and reread those works that have stood the test of time. Reclaiming the Canon makes it easy to see why Sinaiko has been twice distinguished for excellence in undergraduate teaching and why he takes his revered occupation so seriously: old-style, no-nonsense humanities taught with thorough grounding and relish. (illustrations, not seen) -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Book Description Yale University Press, United States, 1998. Hardback. Book Condition: New. New.. Language: English . Brand New Book. Herman Sinaiko is renowned for his gifts as a guide to exploring and appreciating the humanities. This book brings to general readers Sinaiko s thoughts on, and invitations to read or reread, a wide selection of major literary and philosophical works-from ancient Greek to Chinese to modern. Taking a conversational approach, he deals with the perennial questions that thinking people have always raised, and investigates how works of great art may provide answers to these questions. Sinaiko reestablishes the notion that there is a canon of great works from the great traditions of the world and argues for the existence of permanent standards of excellence. He rejects most contemporary critical views of classical literature and philosophy, including those of experts who seek to monopolize access to great works, academics whose extreme emphasis on historical context disallows any current relevance, and theorists whose lenses distort with personal bias rather than sharpening focus on the works they discuss.Sinaiko reclaims the canon for all of us, opening up discussion on texts ranging from Plato to Tolstoy, Confucius to Mary Shelley, and encouraging each reader to listen and respond to the rich diversity of powerful views on the human condition that such great works offer. Bookseller Inventory # POW9780300065299

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