In response to a student petition, the Yale University English faculty recently voted to “decolonize the English department” by rearranging their course requirements to minimize exposure to, among others, Shakespeare and Chaucer. New course requirements mandate that undergraduate students choose three out of four core courses, in which only one includes Chaucer and Shakespeare, while another includes Milton.
In his literary masterpiece Gli Asolani, Renaissance writer Pietro Bembo awakens and ennobles the moral imagination with the myth of the Queen of the Fortunate Isles. In this myth—which, in the narrative is told by a wise old man to the impressionable young man, Lavinello—the Queen of “surpassing beauty” tests the affections of men and rewards them in accordance with their love. Bembo’s myth invites us into a beautiful romance and demands that we examine ourselves, reorder our loves, and seek better dreams for our lives.
Before Christ came lowly into Jerusalem and riding on a donkey, he came lowly into the world, born in the manger of a donkey.
It is Advent now. And nativity scenes display the paradox of Palm 8 on tables and lawns. In that image the cosmos gathers around a baby, where praise and strength are ordained out of the mouth of the infant Christ, where stars shine and angels sing, where men high and low give gifts, and where “all sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field” typologically attend the birth of the Lord.
And so the end draws near. We - those of us who have voted - have narrowed down our list of sixty-four Great Books to just eight. Still standing are Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, both of which won their round of sixteen matchups easily, Plato's Republic, which narrowly (51% of the vote) escaped the pesky Beowulf, Virgil's Aeneid, and four books from Christendom: Augustine's Confessions, Thomas à Kempis' Imitation of Christ, Dante's Divine Comedy, and Milton's Paradise Lost.
Welcome to Round 2 of the 2014 Great Books Bracket.
Round 1 was, shall we say, full of surprises. It appears that the Lutherans banded together and pushed Martin Luther's Bondage of the Will through to the second round in a fairly monumental upset over Aristotle's seminal and incredibly important Organon. That or a lot of you just don't like logic. Meanwhile, in the same bracket, Euclid's Works managed to secure the similarly surprising upset against the works of the Cappadocian Fathers. Our response: No comment.
“Suddenly, right before their eyes, look, a potent marvel destined to shape the future!”
The Aeneid, Book V. ll. 575-6