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Baker Books / 2006 / Paperback
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The classics have always occupied a place in the hall of education, yet some Christians tend to lean either towards a Puritanical dismissal of art as "irreligious", or they twist the arts into altered, pro-Christian mediocrity. Invitation to the Classics expounds upon what it means to have a Christian view of literature, including its benefits, aesthetics and place in culture. Classics from a variety of authors including Homer, Sophocles, Plato, Dante, Shakespeare, Pascal, Swift, Emerson, Dickens, Tolstoy, Lewis and others are all viewed with an in depth literary and biographical assessment. Each author is introduced with literary analysis of their most famous works, impact upon time, posterity and "Issues to Explore" discussion questions. 384 pages, indexed, softcover.
Louise Cowan is professor of literature at the University of Dallas and cofounder of the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture. She is the author of many books and essays on literary and educational topics. Os Guinness is a senior fellow with The Trinity Forum and the author of many books, including Time for Truth, The Call, and Long Journey Home.
This work examines 50 of the great classic texts of Western literature from a Christian perspective. Cowan (literature, Univ. of Dallas) and Guinness (The Call, Word Books, 1998) compiled criticisms for each classic--including works by Homer, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Dostoyevsky, and Yeats--from an expert in the field. Each section demonstrates how the work relates to Christian doctrine, and topics for further study are included at the end. Unfortunately, these works lean heavily toward male authors, as in most discussion of the great works in Western literature, and the editors confuse their purpose by touching on too many varied ideas while attempting to explain why these works are important from a Christian perspective. Recommended only for public and academic libraries with strong literature and religion departments.--Kim Woodbridge, "The Scientist," Philadelphia
For over a decade, university teachers, politicians, literary critics and preachers have argued about the educational role of the literary classics of the Western world. While some have contended that the works themselves are full of immoral teachings and should be banned from libraries and school curricula, others have argued that the stereotypical portrayal of certain characters has a pernicious effect on readers and leads to classism, sexism and racism. Still others, like authors of this lively collection, believe that the classics are indispensable for an understanding of Western society and human nature. Guinness and Cowan gather over 50 brief essays by a number of respected Christian literary scholars that extend invitations to readers to experience anew or for the first time the wonder and the beauty of selected classics. Each essay contains a biographical and historical sketch, a summary of the work being considered, suggestions and bibliographies for further study and questions raised by the text about the interaction of Christian faith and society. The selections range from the Iliad to Machiavelli's The Prince, Flaubert's Madame Bovary and Rushdie's The Satanic Verses. Genres covered range from Shakespeare's plays and Milton's epic poetry to Martin Luther's theological writings and Alexis de Tocqueville's travel writings. (Sept.)
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