A Reading List from 1910

This 1910 reading list first appeared in How to Speak and Write Correctly by Joseph Devlin. Beginning with the greatest works of all time, he offers a reading list of great books and poetry that could be the core of an excellent home library. Many of these books are studied or referenced in the Excellence in Literature curriculum, and most are still in print. Happy reading!

Masters and Masterpieces of Literature: A 1910 reading list

Great Authors—Classification—The World’s Best Books.

A 400th anniversary edition of the 1611 King James Bible.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.

INDISPENSABLE BOOKS

A handful of the greatest books forms the core of a quality home library.Homer, Dante, Cervantes, Shakespeare and Goethe. [Shakespeare is read in four levels of Excellence in Literature; the other four are found in World Literature, English 5.]

(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
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.

Excerpted from HOW TO SPEAK AND WRITE CORRECTLY
By JOSEPH DEVLIN, M.A.
Edited by THEODORE WATERS

You might also enjoy “How to Annotate for Deep Reading.”

 

This entry was posted in Reading, Resources for Teaching and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.