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Reviewed by Bil Howard for Readers' Favorite
Great books continue to have contemporary relevance, can be endlessly gleaned for fresh data and interpretation, and contain great ideas which have occupied the minds of thinkers from antiquity. Essays on the Classics by Jason R. Goetz establishes these fundamental truths as he introduces the series of essays in this volume, as well as the Great Books program which puts out an essay on the classics every week. Defining a classic or a "Great Book” is not an easy task, but the author gives some guidelines or definitions to establish a point where a discussion can be raised, and then sets forth to lead that discussion. The author takes a look at different genres and spreads them open for analysis: beginning with the epic and its fall; wandering into political philosophy and theory; pausing for a look back into classical history; examining classical memoirs and autobiographies; and presenting a collection of non-Shakespearean plays that are of great value. Jason also provides a handy list of all of the works that were referred to in his essays to wrap it up.
The motivation and concept for Essays on the Classics is honorable and for a huge fan of classical literature it is hard not to give anything but high fives and “atta boys” to Jason R. Goetz for taking on this project and for producing these essays. In most respects, I believe his analysis of the basic definition and the examination of the genres is accurate. However, when it comes to examining specific works, there will certainly be some heated discussions as to the value and interpretations they contain. That, in a nut shell, is the highest value of Essays on the Classics, because it will awaken readers from their literary slumber.