- Publisher: Great Books Foundation (2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1880323710
- ISBN-13: 978-1880323717
- Package Dimensions: 9.2 x 6 x 1.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 10 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #540,920 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Great Conversations 4 Paperback – 2008
"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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Each volume in the Great Conversations series provides a rich collection for your humanities course or book group. Readings and accompanying questions deliver enough content for 15 discussions or class sessions.
Includes works by Matthew Arnold, Eavan Boland, Anton Chekov, Shirley Jackson, William James, Immanuel Kant, Yasunari Kawabata, Heinrich von Kleist, Clarice Lispector, Lisel Mueller, Tim O'Brien, Plato, Plutarch, George Bernard Shaw, and Henry David Thoreau.
Includes discussion guides for Emma by Jane Austen and Swann's Way by Marcel Proust.
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(My quibbles with it (& some suggestions for readers) is as follows:)
I rarely liked any of the suggested questions after each piece. IMO, most seem like "cardboard cut-outs," general purpose, not uniquely geared to either that particular piece or that author's work and showing little comprehension or appreciation of the work. E.g., too very many of the following variety: "Why does (the author) say ______?" "What does __ (the author or character) mean by saying _____ ?" One can have serious doubts whether the person writing questions like these either read or understood the work(s) at all or was merely applying a formula.
While the introductory prefaces to each work DO contain somewhat helpful information, IMO their brevity certainly makes them insufficient and, I strongly suggest, should serve to propel readers to more richly detailed sources such as Wikipedia, at the least, &/or often "Googling" other online sources &/or those offline (biographies, critical assessments, etc.).
Here's a working example:
This volume's prefatory comments about G.B. Shaw's "Major Barbara" describe a little of Shaw's output and his activism in social, political and anti-war causes. But NO mention is made of his unique family life which certainly was a big factor in shaping the energy he put into specific issues:
-- That his strong-willed mother married a man over her guardian's objections
-- this man, GBS's father, was known for his sense of humor and, his mother discovered, even more for his chronic drunkeness
-- GBS's father (& family) was related to (and a part of) the protestant English aristocracy then ruling Ireland but the family was also the victim of that economic system
-- His mother brought her voice teacher, George Lee, home to live forming a "menage a trois" when Shaw was 10
-- His mother went with his 2 older sisters & voice teacher to London when GBS was 15 leaving GBS with his father
-- Shaw left his father at age 20, to rejoin his mother & sisters & her music teacher/(lover?)
-- Shaw was supported by his mother & her voice teacher, his sister & absent father until he finally started becoming financially successful as a writer at age 30!!
-- Shaw was a notorious philanderer with many prominent actresses, occasionally other men's mistresses and other married women.
-- That English society, class structure, and the theater in this Victorian Age were ALL VERY much geared to keeping women subservient to and supportive of the male role in the home, society, politics, etc., ALL of which Shaw opposed and fought against in various ways.
Do you suppose ANY of the above family & cultural factors had ANY influence in shaping the causes (pro-socialism, opposition to the English class system, pro-equal rights for women, anti-war, anti-religion, anti-drinking, etc.) that GBS took up or his beliefs? Or that knowing these would add to one's appreciation of the ideas he espoused in this play and his others?
I certainly do; they have for me.
And it easily could have been very helpful to recommend or mention best sources to help better understand GBS -- (e.g., Holroyd's "Bernard Shaw," Peters' "Bernard Shaw & the Actresses," &/or the Shaw article in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography).