Oh, words. I love words, all of them. Words truly are some form of magic that can transport you anywhere you could wish to go and paint endless pictures. For as long as I can remember I have loved words; reading words, writing words and Lord knows I could talk the ears off most people. This love has lead me to the life of an author, writing is the world’s best outlet for me. As a writer I am always looking for ways to hone my skills.
With that goal in mind I have decided to undertake a (as close as possible) complete reading of The Western Canon. The Western Canon is a list of 798 books that many scholars agree shaped the development of Western Culture. The Canon list was created by Harold Bloom and is a highly debated list. The canon is often referred to as a list of books by old, white men and a quick scan of the authors included confirms that. If one were to construct a list of great books today there would, for sure, be more diversity. Therefore, as I am reading through the ages I may add books to the list that I feel are necessary. Some of the works included in the Canon are things I have already read, however I want to reread them all within the scope and arc of the history of literature.
Bloom’s Canon is split into four periods of time; The Theocratic Age (2000 BCE-1321 CE), The Aristocratic Age (1321-1832), The Democratic Age (1832-1900), The Chaotic Age (20th Century). There are twenty-six authors specifically focused on throughout the Canon to include:
- James Joyce
- Virginia Woolf
- John Milton
- Samuel Johnson
- George Eliot
- Charles Dickens
- Franz Kafka
- Jane Austen
- Henrik Ibsen
- Walt Whitman
- Frenando Pessoa
- Emily Dickinson
- Samuel Beckett
- Pablo Neruda
- Jorge Luis Borges
I decided to read through the immense list in chronological order in order to be able to fully appreciate all allusions, references and innuendos. Starting with The Iliad by Homer. I vaguely remember skimming through The Iliad years ago and I do not remember being impressed. I am only a short way in now and HOLY COW. Homer is blowing my literary socks off. The man had an amazing ability to twist words into magical phrases that I find myself rereading over and over again to soak up his creative genius. Here is to a long journey through many literary worlds and to the inspiration provided by the millions of authors that came before me.
“The smooth-tongued chief, from whose persuasive lips
Sweeter than honey flowed the stream of speech.”
For more information about The Western Cannon please consult
The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages By Harold Bloom