As National Library Week begins, a noted educator reminds us that books store the treasures of our culture--and that to understand our world we must understand that culture Y ou DON'T HAVE to read all the so- called great books to be a cultured person. There isn't much sense in racing against time to read all the great poets, playwrights, novelists, philosophers. But unless you know some of them, and know them fairly well, you will never come to know yourself fully, or the world around you. For example, what do these names mean to you --Homer, Sophocles, Plato, Virgil, Cicero, Augustine, Dante, Erasmus, Shakespeare, Milton? Inscriptions on library walls? Or just rich, beautiful names packed with associations, yet remote? If they are only names to you, then your, sense of the past is not very firm; your sense of the present is not very clear. You have been cheated of your full share of wisdom and have missed some deeply satisfying experiences. What are the special insights of the men whose names loom so large on library walls? Are they in precisely the same areas as the self-help books that promise so much and deliver so little? No, these deal with love and friendship, and the lusts 'of youth, and the torments of old age, with the suffering caused by war and the suffering that does not cease with peace, with the urge to faith and the satisfactions and the difficulties of religious belief. They face the inevitability of pain and of death, and suggest ways, either openly or by example, that we can meet both. The extraordinary perceptions of these wise men do not come in neat little formulas. It would be a mistake to look for them that way. But there is no mistaking the lessons of patience, steadfastness, and determination that come from Homer's "Odyssey" and Virgil's "Aeneid," with the accent on married love in the case of Ulysses, the hero of the Greek epic, and upon love of country in that of Aeneas, hero of the Roman epic. There is no more entertaining examination of the many levels of human and divine love than that in Plato's "Symposium," a banquet-load of By BARRY ULANOV Associate Professor of English, Barnard College, Columbia University useful wisdom, thought,and opinion. We go to St. Augustine's "Confessions" for the kind of searching self-examination that set a standard not only for autobiography but for literature, philosophy, and theology for more than a thousand years, and still knows few equals. We turn to Cicero's little books--long essays, really--"On Friendship" and "On Old Age" for incalculable wisdom on both vital subjects. Dante's "Divine Comedy" provides a lifetime's reading. There isn't a single type of human being missing: all the virtues and all the vices are represented. There is almost as much again in Shakespeare's 37 plays. Where can we begin? How about "Romeo and Juliet" for the follies of young love, and "Antony and Cleopatra" for the follies of middle-aged love? But what about the masterpieces of our own time? In this age of sickness and health, of unequalled scientific achievement and unparalleled destruction, what has been the record of the humanists? What books have we here? No time has debated its problems and sifted possible solutions more entertainingly or more usefully than ours. A fine span can be made of Bernard Shaw's "Man and Superman" (1903), Thomas Mann's "Magic Mountain" (1924), and Boris Pasternak's "Dr. Zhivago" (1958). These three works range across a remarkably extensive chunk of 20th-century thought and opinion. As much can be discovered again of America and Americans in "The Education of Henry Adams" (1907), John Dos Passos' massive trilogy, "U.S.A." (written from 1930 to 1936),and William Faulkner's "Absalom, Absalom!" (1936). Barry Ulanov Â· The first is an autobiography and a provocative introduction to the problems of the new century- The second is an uncommonly absorbing chronicle of events from the end of World War I to the New Deal. The third may be the most balanced and compassionate examination of the problems of Southerners that we are ever likely to get, at least in the form of a novel. For a fuller awareness of what this.era contains, let me suggest two plays and two novels. Anton Chekhov's "The Cherry Orchard" (1904) shows how amusingly, and how pitifully so many of us spend our lives talking through, rather than to, each other. T. S. Eliot's "The Cocktail Party" (1950) suggests some ways to a consoling peace, even for the unloving and the unlovable, and does so in the handsome cadences of the leading English poet of our time. Albert Camus's "The Plague" (1947) is an allegory of the Nazi occupation of France; though it deals with depressing events, its abiding virtue is hope. The last volume, not exactly of our time, is Feodor Dostoyevsky's "The Possessed" (1872). It is an incomparable examination of communists and communism. It is a prophetic book, written so long before the accession of the communists in Russia, a profoundly discerning one, and a superb example of the kind of wisdom contained in volumes of this kind. It is still another reminder of the prodigious capacities of man--and of the materials that can give you the full share of wisdom you need to appreciate your world and yourself. Free Reading List Ottered The books described in the above article are . only a few of many which can help make you a more well-rounded person. Professor TJlanov has prepared an excellent list of such books, books that will entertain, enlighten, and edify you. For your free copy of this list, just send a stamped, self-addressed envelope to Book List, Family Weekly, P.O. Box 7740, Chicago, III. Offer expires May 10, 1962. COVER: Artist Homer Hill captures the spirit of our national pastime, which launches its 1962 season this week. Making their bow-two new major-league, teams. See page 10. LEONARD S. DAVIDOW President unii PttblMrr WALTER C. DREYFUS Vice Prnidcnl PATRICK E. O'ROURKE Adrcrtifina Director MORTON FRANK Director of Publither Relati Send oil ad.erli.ing communicalion. to Family Weekly, 153 N. Michioan A,,., Chicago 1. 111. April J, 1362 Boord o( Editor! ERNEST V. HEYN Editor-in-Chief BEN KARTMAN Executive Editor ROBERT FITZGIBBON Manor/inn Editor MARGARET BELL Feature Editor PHILLIP DYKSTRA Art Director MELANIE DE PROFT Food Editor n Abrevaya, John Hochmcmi.. Jerry Klein. Hal w London, Jock Ryan; Peer J. Opp.nheime, Hollywood. 196J, FAMILY WEEKLY MAGAZINE, INC., 153 N. Michigan A.e., Chicago 1, III. All righl, reserved.
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