BAD REVIEWS OF GOOD BOOKS

EVERYTHING SIC

ALSO AVAILABLE ON BLOGGER

A READING LIST

Hebrew Bible
Authorized King James Version

Homer
Iliad
Richmond Lattimore
Odyssey
Robert Fitzgerald


Vyasa
Mahabharata
Kisari Mohan Ganguli


Aeschylus
Prometheus Bound
David Grene

Sophocles
Oedipus the King
David Grene or Robert Fagles

Euripides
The Bacchae
Philip Vellacott

Lao Tzu
Tao Te Ching
David Hinton


Plato
The Republic
G. M. A. Grube, revised by C. D. C. Reeve

Aristotle
Physics
Metaphysics
Nicomachean Ethics
Joe Sachs for all three.


Euclid
Elements
Thomas L. Heath

Valmiki
Ramayana
R. K. Narayan’s abridgment, but I would welcome any recommendations for a full translation.


Confucius
Analects
Arthur Waley

Virgil
Aeneid
Robert Fitzgerald

Ovid
Metamorphoses
Allen Mandelbaum

New Testament
Authorized King James Version


Saint Augustine
City of God
Robert W. Dyson
Confessions
Frank J. Sheed

Al-Qur’an
Ahmed Ali

Li Po
Poems
Arthur Cooper, Arthur Waley, Sam Hamill, David Hinton

Tu Fu
Poems
Arthur Cooper, Sam Hamill

The Thousand and One Nights
Sir Richard Burton

Lady Murasaki
The Tale of Genji
Arthur Waley or Royall Tyler

Saint Thomas Aquinas
Summa Theologica
Fathers of the English Dominican Province

Dante
The Divine Comedy
Inferno: Robert Pinsky, Purgatorio: W.S. Merwin, Paradiso: Allen Mandelbaum. For a more unified translation, John Ciardi, or Dorothy L. Sayers as completed by Barbara Reynolds.

Chaucer
The Canterbury Tales

Shi Naian
Water Margin
Sidney Shapiro

Luo Guanzhong
Romance of the Three Kingdoms
Moss Roberts

Wu Cheng’en
Journey to the West
Arthur Waley’s abridgment, called Monkey, or W. J. F. Jenner or Anthony C. Yu

Montaigne
Essais
Donald Frame or M. A. Screech

Cervantes
Don Quixote
Edith Grossman

Shakespeare
Works

Descartes
Meditations on First Philosophy
John Cottingham

Milton
Paradise Lost

Newton
Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica
I. Bernard Cohen and Anne Whitman

Locke
An Essay Concerning Human Understanding
Second Treatise of Civil Government

Hume
A Treatise of Human Nature

Kant
Critique of Pure Reason
Norman Kemp Smith

Wordsworth
Lyrical Ballads (with Coleridge)

Goethe
Faust, part I
David Luke or Stuart Atkins.
Faust, part II
David Luke or Stuart Atkins.

Hegel
Phenomenology of Spirit
A. V. Miller

Dickens
Bleak House

Marx
Capital
S. Moore and E. B. Aveling

Cao Xueqin
Dream of the Red Chamber (sometimes called The Story of the Stone, among other names)
David Hawkes

Melville
Moby-Dick

Whitman
Leaves of Grass (the first edition of 1855)

Darwin
On the Origin of Species


Tolstoy
Anna Karenina
War and Peace
Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky for both novels.

Nietzsche
Beyond Good and Evil
Walter Kaufmann

Freud
The Psychopathology of Everyday Life
The Ego and the Id
Civilization and its Discontents 
James Strachey’s Standard Edition

Einstein
Relativity: the Special and the General Theory
Robert W. Lawson

Proust
In Search of Lost Time
C. K. Scott Moncrieff, as revised in turn by Terence Kilmartin and D. J. Enright

Joyce
Ulysses
Finnegans Wake

Wittgenstein
Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus
Brian McGuinness and David Pears
Philosophical Investigations
E. M. Anscombe

Simone de Beauvoir
The Second Sex
Constance Borde and Sheila Malovany-Chevallier (the more complete of two poor translations)


I SHOULD NOTE RIGHT NOW THAT I AM STILL WORKING ON THIS LIST MYSELF. I HAVE READ ONLY ABOUT THREE QUARTERS AT THE TIME OF WRITING.

THIS IS BY NO MEANS EXHAUSTIVE — EVERYTHING ON THE BLOG I WOULD RECOMMEND READING AT LEAST ONCE. WHAT IS HERE IS SELECTED ON TWO PRINCIPLES: CULTURAL INFLUENCE (FOR SOMEONE IN AN ANGLOPHONE ENVIRONMENT) AND QUALITY OF THOUGHT. THERE ARE MANY WORKS THAT MEET THE FIRST STANDARD BUT NOT THE SECOND (FOR INSTANCE THE HIPPOCRATIC CORPUS, DIDEROT’S ENCYCLOPEDIA), AND SOME THAT HAVE THE REQUISITE BRILLIANCE BUT SADLY NOT THE MASSIVE INFLUENCE ON CULTURE THAT THEY MERIT (FOR INSTANCE THE POEMS OF DICKINSON, SOME ICELANDIC SAGAS, THE METAPHYSICAL WORKS OF WHITEHEAD). WHAT IS HERE WILL PROVIDE A SOLID EDUCATION IN INTELLECTUAL AND CULTURAL HISTORY IN THE WEST, AS WELL AS A COURSE IN THINKING ITSELF, TAUGHT BY THE BEST, SUBTLEST AND MOST INVENTIVE MINDS OF THE PAST THREE MILLENNIA.

I’VE RECOMMENDED A TRANSLATION OR TWO FOR EACH WORK, BUT AS ANYONE WHO CAN READ ANOTHER LANGUAGE WILL TELL YOU, TRANSLATION IS A SICK JOKE ON MONOLINGUAL PEOPLE. (FORTUNATELY MONOLINGUAL PEOPLE DESERVE IT.) SEVERAL TIMES I HAVE READ WITH GREAT ATTENDANCE A WIDELY-PRAISED “LITERAL RENDERING”, ONLY TO FEEL BETRAYED, THEN SMUG, THEN AROUSED AT MY OWN GENIUS, ONCE I CAN COMPARE IT WITH THE ORIGINAL WORK. THUS I HAVE MOSTLY SELECTED THESE TRANSLATIONS ON THE BASIS OF THEIR QUALITY AS LITERARY WORKS. (FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH, I CAN READ COMFORTABLY IN ANCIENT GREEK, LATIN, FRENCH AND ITALIAN, AND LESS COMFORTABLY IN GERMAN, RUSSIAN AND CLASSICAL CHINESE. IF YOU VALUE A PHANTOM ACCURACY, YOU SHOULD TAKE WITH A GRAIN OF SALT MY RECOMMENDATIONS FOR OTHER LANGUAGES.)