Thursday, October 29, 2009

ten books I really wish I had time to re-read

Mostly history-of-ideas kinds of things. Some of these I can barely remember reading. In more-or-less historical order by subject:
  • Eric Havelock, Preface to Plato
  • Gregory Dix, The Shape of the Liturgy
  • Jean LeClerq, The Love of Learning and the Desire for God
  • Johan Huizenga, The Autumn of the Middle Ages
  • Frances Yates, The Art of Memory
  • Mikhail Bakhtin, Rabelais and His World
  • Diarmaid MacCullouch, Thomas Cranmer
  • Maynard Mack, Alexander Pope
  • Roy Porter, Flesh in the Age of Reason
  • Walker Percy, The Message in the Bottle


  1. Alan, seriously, reread The Message in the Bottle. Just start with the second essay, "The Loss of the Creature." It was like revelation to me when I first read it a year ago, and it has only seemed steadily more so since then.

  2. Agreed on "The Loss of the Creature." I have taught it many, many times over the years, so I know it well — but the rest of the collection has grown vague in my memory. (Except "The Delta Factor.")

  3. Also, Ari, if you haven't read Lost in the Cosmos, make sure you do so ASAP. Everything that's great about "The Loss of the Creature," cubed. Or so sez me.

  4. One explanation down. Why the others? I'd love to hear.

  5. Glad we're of like mind about "The Loss of the Creature." Also very worthwhile from that collection are "The Man on the Train," "The Symbolic Structure of Interpersonal Process," "Culture: Antinomy of the Scientific Method," which go further into some of the issues of "Loss" and tie them together into a larger theory.

    Thanks for the tip on Lost in the Cosmos. It's on my shelf and very high on my to-read list, as is Signposts in a Strange Land. The rest of the Percy bibliography is not far behind...

  6. Scott, I don't believe I explained anything. I don't do explanations. I am an international man of mystery.

  7. By the way, I did read Lost in the Cosmos and you were right and then some. Incredible stuff. (And I'm not even Catholic...)

  8. Relatedly, I revisited Message recently and would also highly recommend the titular essay.


[Basic HTML tags can be used in this comment field.]