Will Durant C/D.

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No thread for him here or on ILB, I checked.
Just bought The Story of Philosophy and The Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time.
What does ILX think of this guy?

Aaron Hertz (AaronHz), Saturday, 22 January 2005 02:21 (nineteen years ago) link

bbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbut what about ariel?

scott seward (scott seward), Saturday, 22 January 2005 03:42 (nineteen years ago) link

Bbbbboring. (I haven't actually read anything by him.)

RS £aRue (rockist_scientist), Saturday, 22 January 2005 03:57 (nineteen years ago) link

We can talk about Ariel too, but I don't have any books with her.

Aaron Hertz (AaronHz), Saturday, 22 January 2005 04:14 (nineteen years ago) link

I've never actually sat down and read any of his books through, only browsed them from time to time in used bookstores. He was the undisputed King of Survey Texts, the sort of book that covers some huge swath of subject matter in 800 pages of rapid eye movement.

From what I've seen his style is readable; he was a good researcher; his books hit a solid note of reliability. Those are to the good. On the bad side of the ledger, he skims along on the shallow surface of his subjects for hundreds upon hundreds of pages. Who can put up with that? Not me.

I'd rather spend decades reading in the basic texts, hit or miss, than read 1000 pages of wholly accurate survey text that never sits still for more than a page before flying rapidly onward. Durant was sort of the last gasp of the Encyclopedist movement.

Aimless (Aimless), Saturday, 22 January 2005 04:26 (nineteen years ago) link

Yeah I mostly got these for a general overview of this sort of thing, both are well under 800pp and look like quick reads. Might save me some time figuring out what I want to dig deeper into.

Aaron Hertz (AaronHz), Saturday, 22 January 2005 05:31 (nineteen years ago) link

Here's the (in?)famous list...

I dunno, I really enjoy his style. And people need survey books, goddamnit! Nothing wrong with going deep in depth, but I enjoy getting the bird's eye view before the turtle's eye view (to use a metaphor originally reserved from Proust analysis, IIRC). His Story of Philosophy has gotten me off my ass to read more philosophy. The Story of Civilization series I've been slacking on recently, but I liked how like Barzun's recent Dawn to Decadence, he pauses on interesting lives to represent periods of time. (And surely Barzun is the "last of the encyclopedist tradition" if such a thing is truly dying out - note that I disagree with that assertion anyway.) His whole point was to educate large groups of people about big subjects, and leave their curiosity to follow up on particular areas they were more enthused about. While certainly his (and most others') lists are indicative of the largely biased Western Tradition, I enjoy the idea of a canon (although in a looser and more inclusive sense), and the idea that one should be well versed in great breadth about most things as well as great depth about a few things. It seems that loss of these intellectual values - to a certain extent - has made of a death of a common vernacular of ideas and references which can be understood by many even outside of whatever specialty the individual may possess.

Anyway, if you follow up on the list above, keep in mind that most of the commentary, supplementary, and introductory material is out of date and most certainly out of fashion. Regrettably, most of the multi-volume supplementary works have been supplanted by single-volume ones, so the supplementary reading suffers in extensiveness. I'm still working on trying to create a modern revision of the list. Most of the "Great" Books stuff is still, of course, available, although perhaps some preferred translators are in order. (This was my favorite feature of Fadiman and Major's New Lifetime Reading Plan. As you can see, I'm very into the lists.)

BLAH! < / Chingy>

Girolamo Savonarola, Saturday, 22 January 2005 18:55 (nineteen years ago) link

nineteen years pass...

just learned that will was a teacher at ariel's school in nyc; he resigned so he could marry her -- when she was 15 and he was a week shy of 28

according to wiki, she roller-skated from her home in harlem to city hall for the wedding (which is like nine miles)

mookieproof, Wednesday, 3 April 2024 01:30 (two months ago) link

guess it's a miracle she ever got her name on the books at all

mookieproof, Wednesday, 3 April 2024 01:31 (two months ago) link

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