Now featuring organization!

What is at the core of Western Tradition? For what paramount value did Socrates die drinking hemlock and Bacon die freezing chickens? Why, end-user convenience, of course! And so dig, if you will, this picture: all my entries organized by volume. I include the titles of the volumes, direct from great-grandfather's spines, in order to give you an idea of what the HC is all about -- an ingredient list, if you will, of the Five Foot Shelf's old-school intellectual muesli.

Volume 1: Franklin, Woolman, Penn
Volume 2: Plato, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius
Volume 3: Bacon, Milton's Prose, Thos. Browne
Volume 4: Complete Poems In English, Milton
Volume 5: Essays and English Traits, Emerson
Volume 6: Poems and Songs, Burns
Volume 7: Confessions of St. Augustine, Imitation of Christ
Volume 8: Nine Greek Dramas
Volume 9: Letters and Treatises of Cicero and Pliny
Volume 10: Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith
Volume 11: Origin of Species, Darwin
Volume 12: Plutarch's Lives
Volume 13: Aeneid, Virgil
Volume 14: Don Quixote Part I, Cervantes
Volume 15: Pilgrim's Progress, Donne & Herbert, Bunyan, Walton
Volume 16: The Thousand and One Nights
Volume 17: Folk-lore and Fable, Aesop, Grimm, Andersen
Volume 18: Modern English Drama (Warning: ends at Browning)
Volume 19: Faust, Egmont, etc. Doctor Faustus, Goethe, Marlowe
Volume 20: The Divine Comedy, Dante
Volume 21: I Promessi Sposi, Manzoni
Volume 22: The Odyssey, Homer
Volume 23: Two Years Before The Mast, Dana
Volume 24: On the Sublime, French Revolution, etc., Burke
Volume 25: Autobiography, etc., Essays and Address, J.S. Mill, T. Carlyle
Volume 26: Continental Drama
Volume 27: English Essays, Sidney to Macaulay
Volume 28: Essays English and American
Volume 29: Voyage of the Beagle, Darwin
Volume 30: Faraday, Helmholtz, Kelvin, Newcomb, etc. (Warning: sciency)
Volume 31: Autobiography, Benvenuto Cellini !!!
Volume 32: Lieterary and Philosophical Essays, Montaigne, Sainte Beuve, Renan, etc.
Volume 33: Voyages and Travels
Volume 34: French and English Philosophers, Descartes, Voltaire, Rousseau, Hobbes
Volume 35: Chronicle and Romance, Froissart, Malory, Holinshed
Volume 36: Machiavelli, More, Luther Or, "the one I took to college to save money and lost, thereby destroying the value of the set."
Volume 37: Locke, Berkeley, Hume Never again.
Volume 38: Harvey, Jenner, Lister, Pasteur
Volume 39: Famous Prefaces
Volume 40: English Poetry 1: Chaucer to Gray
Volume 41: English Poetry 2: Collins to Fitzgerald
Volume 42: English Poetry 3: Tennyson to Whitman
Volume 43: American Historical Documents
Volume 44: Sacred Writings 1
Volume 45: Sacred Writings 2
Volume 46: Elizabethan Drama 1
Volume 47: Elizabethan Drama 2
Volume 48: Thoughts and Minor Works, PascalVolume 49: Epic and Saga

Man, just typing these titles out brings back memories. Not of anything I read -- all that stuff has already gone right out of my head. But memories of doing the act of reading them: in the fine California sun of a morning, or while waiting for my daughter to finish her clarinet lesson. For the unemployed man with a mortgage, reading these books proved a great distraction from unmitigated terror. (Distraction from terror is probably the primitive origin of all philosophy and literature -- to help us forget that we have caught, or someday will catch, gangrene.)

And I realize how little I read of each book, how I only scratched the surface (to continue the gangrene metaphor). It's pretty humbling, even for a hardened dilettante like me. Not as humbling as reading my own writing would be, though. But that is a task I can happily leave to you.


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