Woody Allen’s 2011 movie Midnight in Paris has it all: a star-studded cast, fantastic music, beautiful settings and great camerawork. However, its greatest feature is the story itself. The protagonist is aspiring writer Gil Pender, who stumbles into a magic vortex that allows him to travel back to 1920s Paris, a place and time that he considers the high point of Western culture. He befriends all the great artists of the day, including Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Salvador Dali, Gertrude Stein, and others.
In the world of classical education, we talk about “Great Books.” However, other than a handful of obvious works (those by Homer, Virgil, Dante, Shakespeare, and a few others in particular) there is much debate about which books should actually fall in the category of “Great Book”. Which raises the question: what does it mean for a book to be great - is it an actual measurable category of assessment? To find out, I asked a couple of people who have thoughts on the matter, ostensibly anyway. What’s their conclusion? Well, I’ll let you decide. Here is their conversation.
While Cicero’s Rhetorica ad Herennium commends a six-part structure for an argument, there is an elegance to the way each part gives way to the next which is worthy of imitation in non-argumentative essays, as well.