Suppose you knew someone of fifteen to twenty-five with an inclination for reading: how could you help to direct that inclination, so that by a gradual process it would be possible to absorb, over the next fifty years, most of the masterpieces of the world's literature? It would be difficult to choose, from the millions of books. The aim of this book is to fulfil that purpose, with an indication of the best edition, and a concise description of the book and its significance. A Lifetime's Reading is arranged year by year over fifty years, judging ten great works to be a good annual average.
The selection is balanced between novelists, poets, essayists, playwrights, biographers, and religious and philosophical teachers, from China to India, from the U.S.A. to the U.S.S.R., from England to Morocco, Colombia, Iran ... Translations are evaluated, and guidance is also offered on music, art, and travel, arranged generally speaking in ascending order of the books' complexity and the reader's maturity, from Alice in Wonderland to Immanuel Kant, from the Epic of Gilgamesh to Shimazaki Toson.
"We should never cease to be readers; pure readers, reading not to learn or for an ulterior motive, but for the joy of reading itself. We should know how to read and ardently desire and to receive, to nourish ourselves, as by delicious food, to grow in wisdom, organically, not to make use of what one reads socially, in polite society; to become human beings who understand the art of reading, that is to be come capable of empathy".
Fifty years of reading. Suppose I want to give my niece Chiara some advice about what to read for the next five decades, what books should I advise her not to miss? In this era of digital knowledge, she will easily find everything online. I will follow Philip Ward's book and his indications. The reader of this experience will share my selection and will meet novelists, poets, essayists, playwrights, biographers, religious and philosophical teachers from all over the world, fifty years of piloted reading, travelling in space and time.
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