I've been enjoying reading bits of Michael Dirda's Book by Book. It's about all I can concentrate on before bedtime, which means I'm making my way very slowly through it. I read a few pages or look through the book lists--you know how I love a good book list. In a chapter on the pleasures of learning, he lists books he calls "patterning works". These are not necessarily obvious classics, but he says that these are the books later authors regularly build on. "Know these well, and nearly all of world literature will be an open book to you."
How many of these have you read? I'm afraid my reading is spotty at best.
The Bible (Old and New Testament--King James Version) -- Ten years of Catholic education means I've read bits and pieces, but never the whole thing straight through.
Bulfinch's Mythology (or any other accounts of the Greek, Roman, and Norse myths) -- Eighth grade lit class, more bits and pieces. I would love to read a complete set of myths as well as Ovid's Metamorphoses.
Homer, The Iliad and The Odyssey -- High school, but only excerpts from what I recall. I have the boxed set of this and a lot of good intentions.
Plutarch, Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans -- Nope.
Dante, Inferno -- Yup, high school senior English.
The Arabian Nights -- Not yet.
Thomas Malory, Le Morte d'Arthur (tales of King Arthur and his knights) -- I have read some versions of King Arthur, would like to read more, particularly the Malory. I have visions of a reading project here.
Shakespeare's major plays, especially Hamlet, Henry IV, Part One, King Lear, A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Tempest -- King Lear in high school, though I remember zilch from it, and more recently A Midsummer Night's Dream. Have more good intentions to read Shakespeare, but...
Cervantes, Don Quixote -- Yes! I read this a few summers ago and was just thinking it might time soon to reread it.
Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe -- Yes, I still remember that footprint in the sand!
Jonathan Swift, Gulliver's Travels -- Again, another high school read.
The fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen -- Nothing recently, nothing in years and years actually.
Any substantial collection of the world's major folktales -- Another gap in my reading--more bits and pieces.
Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice -- Yes, several times.
Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland -- I know the story, but I don't think I ever read the book when I was little...
Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes -- I think this must be the short stories? I have read Doyle's Hound of the Baskervilles but not the short stories.
Interesting list. I like the idea of foundation books and all others building upon them. Now every time I pick up a book I'm going to be thinking about which "patterning work" it is building on!