The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had (Updated and Expanded)

The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had (Updated and Expanded)

Susan Wise Bauer

Language: English

Pages: 480

ISBN: 039308096X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

The enduring and engaging guide to educating yourself in the classical tradition.

Have you lost the art of reading for pleasure? Are there books you know you should read but haven’t because they seem too daunting? In The Well-Educated Mind, Susan Wise Bauer provides a welcome and encouraging antidote to the distractions of our age, electronic and otherwise.

Newly expanded and updated to include standout works from the twenty-first century as well as essential readings in science (from the earliest works of Hippocrates to the discovery of the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs), The Well-Educated Mind offers brief, entertaining histories of six literary genres―fiction, autobiography, history, drama, poetry, and science―accompanied by detailed instructions on how to read each type. The annotated lists at the end of each chapter―ranging from Cervantes to Cormac McCarthy, Herodotus to Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, Aristotle to Stephen Hawking―preview recommended reading and encourage readers to make vital connections between ancient traditions and contemporary writing.

The Well-Educated Mind reassures those readers who worry that they read too slowly or with below-average comprehension. If you can understand a daily newspaper, there’s no reason you can’t read and enjoy Shakespeare’s sonnets or Jane Eyre. But no one should attempt to read the “Great Books” without a guide and a plan. Bauer will show you how to allocate time to reading on a regular basis; how to master difficult arguments; how to make personal and literary judgments about what you read; how to appreciate the resonant links among texts within a genre―what does Anna Karenina owe to Madame Bovary?―and also between genres.

In her best-selling work on home education, The Well-Trained Mind, the author provided a road map of classical education for parents wishing to home-school their children; that book is now the premier resource for home-schoolers. In The Well-Educated Mind, Bauer takes the same elements and techniques and adapts them to the use of adult readers who want both enjoyment and self-improvement from the time they spend reading. Followed carefully, her advice will restore and expand the pleasure of the written word.















important event? If you have difficulty answering these questions, ask yourself: Is there some point in the book where the characters change? Does something happen that makes everyone behave differently? There are plenty of important moments in Pilgrims Progress, but the story's hero changes most drastically right at the beginning, when he hears Evangelist's words and runs through the wicket gate, crying, "Life, life, eternal life!" He is a different man afterward—and although he goes through

as if you'd been born with the tail of a pig," she snaps.) Eventually Aureliano retreats to his workshop to make little gold fishes, and his greatnephew Aureliano Segundo comes to the center of family life. Segundo marries a beautiful, pretentious, and hysterical woman but carries on an affair with the villager Petra Cotes, who makes him prosperous by wandering around his property, spreading her aura of fertility. Even magical prosperity, though, pales in the face of economic progress: a railroad

finally arrives, Augustine discovers that he is "ignorant of the liberal arts" and has only "knowledge ... of a very conventional kind." His intellect unsatisfied, his enthusiasm for the sect starts to dwindle. So does his enthusiasm for teaching, since his students become rowdier and more ignorant every year. "Here I was already thirty," Augustine writes, "and still mucking about in the same mire." In an effort to regularize his life, he rejects his long-term mistress (and their son), goes to

historians now sought this meaning through exercising their reason freely. If unreasonable, illogical factors—religious belief, say, or patriotism—influenced the historian, his pure and reliable reason had been corrupted; he no longer wrote truth. And in the same way, truth could not be discovered if historians were pressured by church or state to come to certain conclusions: "If we are asked, 'Do we now live in an enlightened age?' " Immanuel Kant wrote in 1784,"The answer is,'No,' but we do

and historians are particularly prone to the post hoc, ergo propter hoc fallacy—literally "after that, therefore because of it." This is the fallacy of thinking that because one event comes after another in time, the first event caused the second event. So without supplying more information, the historian cannot write: Rome recruited its army from mercenaries. Then Rome fell. Therefore, the army of mercenaries caused the fall of Rome The relationship between the mercenaries and the fall could be

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