Friday, August 27, 2010

Proulx's list

Okay ... so a couple of people have asked about this list.  Here's a bit of backstory.  In high school, I had an English teacher (Bev Proulx) who truly was a teacher; there were varying opinions from students on whether they actually liked having her classes (my cynical side might note that those who disliked her as a teacher were not very fond of being challenged academically).  We did lots and lots of writing for her - that part certainly helped me whiz through short papers in college - to learn how to organize an argument on paper.  She was also an advocate for reading classics - old and contemporary.  Early in our senior year, she gave us two lists of titles one contemporary works and the other classics entitled "Reading List for a Well-Educated Adult".  These weren't meant to be "best" books in the way that so many similar lists claim to be; instead, they were works that are often referred to in literature, art, music, etc.  In other words, what you should read so you have all the backstory when you run across a reference.  The contemporary list is interesting as a snapshot of the late 1980s when I was in high school, but the classics definitely have stood the test of time.  And here's the classics list, in the original sections, for you to pursue and perhaps read yourself ...

Reading List for the Well-Educated Adult

Necessary Reading
Aechylus - The Oresteia (trilogy)
The Agamemnon
Anonymous - Everyman
Arabian Nights
Bronte, Emily - Wuthering Heights
Bulfinch, Thomas - Mythology
Cervantes, Saavedra, Miguel de - Don Quixote
Chaucer, Geoffrey - The Canterbury Tales
Clemens, Samuel (Mark Twain) - The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Dante (Dante Alighieri) - The Divine Comedy
Darwin, Charles - Origin of the Species
Dickens, Charles - Great Expectations
   Bleak House
   A Tale of Two Cities
Dostoevsky, Fiodor - Crime and Punishment
   The Brothers Karamasov
The Federalist Papers
Franklin, Benjamin - Autobiography
Golding, William - The Lord of the Flies
Graves, Robert - The Greek Myths, Parts I & II
Homer - The Iliad
   The Odyssey
Huxley, Aldous - Brave New World
Malory, Sir Thomas - Le Morte d'Arthur
Marlowe, Christopher - The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus
Miller, Arthur - The Crucible
   Death of a Salesman
Milton, John - Paradise Lost
   Paradise Regained
Orwell, George - Animal Farm
Ovid - Metamorphoses
Parkman, Francis - The Oregon Trail
Plutarch - Lives
Riesman, David - The Lonely Crowd
Shakespeare, William - Hamlet
   King Lear
   A Midsummer Night's Dream
   Romeo and Juliet
Shaw, George Bernard - Pygmalion
Sophocles - Oedipus the King
   Oedipus at Colonus
Steinbeck, John - The Grapes of Wrath
   East of Eden
   Of Mice and Men
Swift, Jonathan - Gulliver's Travels
Tennyson, Alfred (Lord) - Idylls of the King
Thoreau, Henry David - Walden
Wilder, Thornton - The Skin of Our Teeth
   Our Town
Williams, Tennessee - The Glass Menagerie
   A Streetcar Named Desire

Highly Recommended
Aeschylus - Prometheus Bound
Alcott, Louisa May - Little Women
Anonymous - Beowulf
Robin Hood Tales
The Song of Roland
El Cid
Aristophanes - The Frogs
Aristotle - Poetics
Augustine, Saint - Confessions
Austen, Jane - Pride and Prejudice
Bacon, Francis - Writings
Balzac, Honore de - Pere Goriot
   The Human Comedy
Beckett, Samuel - Waiting for Godot
Bolt, Robert - A Man for All Seasons
Brecht, Bertolt - The Caucasian Chalk Circle
   Mother Courage
Bronte, Charlotte - Jane Eyre
Bunyan, John - Pilgrim's Progress
Caesar, Julius - The Gallic Wars
Camus, Albert - The Stranger
   The Plague
   The Fall
Cather, Willa - A Lost Lady
   My Antonia
   Death Comes for the Archbishop
Cicero, Marcus Tullius - Orations and Letters
Clemens, Samuel (Mark Twain) - The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
   Life on the Mississippi
Congreve, William - The Way of the World
Conrad, Joseph - Lord Jim
   The Heart of Darkness
   The Secret Sharer (novella)
Cooper, James Fenimore - The Leatherstocking Tales (5 books)
Crane, Stephen - The Red Badge of Courage
Defore, Daniel - Moll Flanders
   Robinson Crusoe
Dewey, John - Writings
Dickens, Charles - David Copperfield
   Oliver Twist
   A Christmas Carol
Dodgson, Charles (Lewis Carroll) - Alice in Wonderland
   Through the Looking Glass
Dos Passos, John - U.S.A.
Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan - Casebook of Sherlock Holmes
Dreiser, Theodore - Sister Carrie
   An American Tragedy
Dumas, Alexander - The Three Musketeers
   The Count of Monte Cristo
Eliot, George (Mary Ann Evans) - Silas Marner
   Adam Bedi
Emerson, Ralph Waldo - Essays
   Representative Men
Euripedes - Medea
   Trojan Women
Faulkner, William - Light in August
   The Sound and the Fury
   Absalom, Absalom!
   As I Lay Dying
Fielding, Henry - Tom Jones
Fitzgerald, F. Scott - The Great Gatsby
   Tender is the Night
Flaubert Gustave - Madame Bovary
Forster, E.M. - Passage to India
Frank, Anne - The Diary of a Young Girl
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von - Faust
Hamilton, Edith - Mythology
Hawthorne, Nathaniel - The Scarlet Letter
   The House of Seven Gables
Hemingway, Ernest - The Sun Also Rises
   The Old Man and the Sea
   A Farewell to Arms
   For Whom the Bell Tolls
Heyerdahl, Thor - Kon-Tiki
Hilton, James - Lost Horizon
Hitler, Adolph - Mein Kampf
Hugo, Victor - Les Miserables
   The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Ibsen, Henrik - Ghosts
   A Doll's House
   An Enemy of the People
Joyce, James - The Dubliners
   Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Koestler, Arthur - Darkness at Noon
Leakey, Richard - Origins
Lee, Harper - To Kill a Mockingbird
Lewis, Sinclair - Babbitt
   Main Street
London, Jack - Call of the Wild
MacLeish, Archibald - JB
Mao Tse-Tung - Quotations
Massie, Robert - Nicholas and Alexandra
Marx, Karl - Das Kapital
   The Communist Manifesto
McCullers, Carson - A Member of the Wedding
McLuhan, Marshall - The Medium is the Message
Melville, Herman - Typee
   Billy Budd
   Moby Dick
More, Thomas - Utopia
Nordhoff and Hall - Mutiny on the Bounty
O'Neill, Eugene - The Hairy Ape
   Long Day's Journey into Night
   Desire Under the Elms
Paton, Alan - Cry, the Beloved Country
Plato - The Republic
Plautus - The Menaechmi
Racine - Phaedra
Remarque, Erich Maria - All Quiet on the Western Front
Richter, Conrad - The Sea of Grass
   Light in the Forest
Rostand, Edmund - Cyrano de Bergerac
Sagan, Carl - Cosmos
Salinger, J D - The Catcher in the Rye
   Franny and Zoey
Sandburg, Carl - Abraham Lincoln (6 vol.)
Scott, Sir Walter - Ivanhoe
Shakespeare, William - Richard II
   Henry V
   Richard III
   Julius Caesar
   The Taming of the Shrew
   Measure for Measure
   Twelfth Night
   All's Well that Ends Well
   The Tempest
   Merchant of Venice
   The Comedy of Errors
   As You Like It
   Much Ado about Nothing
   Two Gentlemen of Verona
   The Winter's Tale
Shaw, George Bernard - St. Joan
   Man and Superman
   Major Barbara
   Arms and the Man
Shelley, Mary - Frankenstein
Shute, Nevil - On the Beach
Sienkiowicz, Henry - Quo Vadis
Sinclair, Upton - The Jungle
Stoker, Bram - Dracula
Stowe, Harriet Beecher - Uncle Tom's Cabin
Thackeray, William Makepeace - Vanity Fair
Thucydides - The Peloponnesian Wars
Tolstoy, Leo - War and Peace
   Anna Karenina
Turgenov, Ivan - Fathers and Sons
Virgil - Aeneid
Whitman, Walt - Leaves of Grass

Anderson, Maxwell - Winterset
Anderson, Sherwood - Winesburg, Ohio
Boccaccio, Giovanni - Decameron
Boswell, James - The Life of Samuel Johnson
Buck, Pearl - The Good Earth
Butler, Samuel - The Way of All Flesh
Caldwell, Erskine - Tobacco Road
Chekhov, Anton - The Cherry Orchard
Dana, Richard Henry - Two Years before the Mast
Descartes - The Philosophy
Duerrenmatt, Friedrich - The Visit
Eliot, TS - Murder in the Cathedral
Farrell, James T - Studs Lonigan
Freud, Sigmund - Writings
Galsworthy, John - Men of Property
Gide, Andre - The Couterfeiters
Giridoux, Jean - The Madwoman of Chaillot
Gogol, Nikolai Vasilievich - Dead Souls
Goldsmith, Oliver - She Stoops to Conquer
Greene, Graham - The Power and the Glory
Hardy, Thomas - Tess of the d'Urbervilles
   The Return of the Native
Hellman, Lillian - The Little Foxes
   The Children's Hour
Hudson, William Henry - Green Mansions
Ionesco, Eugene - The Bald Soprano
   The Lesson
Irving, Washington - The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
James, Henry - The American
   The Turn of the Screw
Jonson, Ben - Bolpone
Kafka, Franz - The Meramorphosis
   The Trial
Kant, Immanuel - The Philosophy
Kingsley, Charles - Westward, Ho!
Kipling, Rudyard - Kim
   The Jungle Books
   Captains Courageous
LaRochefoucauld, Francois Duc de - Maxims
Lawrence, D H - Sons and Lovers
Lawrence and Lee - Inherit the Wind
Livy - Histories
Locke, John - The Philosophy
Lucretius - On the Nature of Things
Machiavelli, Niccolo - The Prince
Mann, Thomas - The Magic Mountain
   Doctor Faustus
Maugham, Somerset - Of Human Bondage
Maurois, Andre - Disraeli
Moliere - Tartuffe
   The Miser
Montaigne, Michel - Essays
Nietzsche, Friedrich - Essays
O'Casey, Sean - Juno and the Paycock
Odets, Clifford - Golden Boy
O'Hara, John - Appointment in Samarra
Pascal, Blaise - Thoughts
Pasternak, Boris - Doctor Zhivago
Polo, Marco - The Travels of Marco Polo
Proust, Marcel - Remembrance of Things Past
Pushkin, Alexander - The Captain's Daughter
Rawlings, Marjorie - The Yearling
Richardson, Samuel - Clarissa
Rolvaag, Ole - Giants in the Earth
Rousseau, Jean Jacques - Reveries of a Solitary
Saroyan, William - The Time of Your Life
   The Human Comedy
Sartre, Jean-Paul - The Age of Reason
   No Exit
Schiller, Friedrich - William Tell
Sheridan, Richard B - School for Scandal
Spenser, Edmund - The Faerie Queen
Sterne, Laurence - Tristam Shandy
Stevenson, Robert Louis - Treasure Island
Stringberg, August - Miss Julie
Synge, John M - Playboy of the Western World
Verne, Jules - 20,000 Leagues under the Sea
   Around the World in 80 Days
Voltaire (Francois Marie Arouet) - Candide
   Philosophical Letters
Wallace, Irving - Ben-Hur
Waugh, Evelyn - The Loved One
Wells, H G - The Invisible Man
   The Time Machine
   The War of the Worlds
Wharton, Edith - Ethan Frome
Wiesel, Elie - Night
Wilde, Oscar - The Importance of Being Earnest
Wister, Owen - The Virginian
Wolfe, Thomas - Look Homeward, Angel
   You Can't Go Home Again
Woolf, Virginia - To the Lighthouse
   A Room of One's Own
Wright, Richard - Native Son
   Black Boy
Wyss, Johann - Swiss Family Robinson


  1. Wowsers! English Lit major here. Have read some few of these titles.
    Some I've no desire to read (willful ignorance? I think not. I prefer to think of it as setting limits). Do you suppose your instructor had read them all?

  2. My guess is that she had read at least 90%. I can't say that I really desire to read them all either - not looking forward to Paradise Regained especially after slogging through Paradise Lost several years ago - but I have found a few unanticipated gems in the ones I have read.