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Thread: Books that inspire books

  1. #1
    Registered User Albion.'s Avatar
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    Jan 2010

    Books that inspire books

    Which 3 books would you recomend to read that would help you understand things like places or people or mythological references in other books?

  2. #2
    Registered User kelby_lake's Avatar
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    Mar 2008
    Complete Works of Shakespeare
    The Waste Land

    That'll sort you for allusions.

  3. #3
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    Jan 2009

    Cool I have worn out two copies of The Concise Oxford Companion to classical Literature...

    This is the best guide to allusions made to mythology in classical literature. Also, I have used Bullfinch's The Age of Fable, which I read from cover to cover before attempting to read classical literature. Reading Shakespeare or Homer yields plemty of examples of allusions to myth, but these won't help you understand the myths. You need a reference book to do that

  4. #4
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    Aug 2009
    I have found reading the central classics of world literature to be the most fun way to do this, given versions that offer plenty of support! For example:

    The RSC Complete Shakespeare. It has good footnotes that decipher the allusions to the Bible, classical literature, history, and so on, as well as deciphering Shakespeare

    Mandelbaum's translation of Dante's Divine Comedy - it has great end notes.

    Rieu's translations of the Iliad and Osyssey in Penguin - a bit prosiac, maybe, but easy to read, with great notes.

    All of these works make reference to many of the classical Greek myths, and first two to Roman & Biblical myths as well. So you get to read some great authors *and* learn about many characters and places that are central to literature.

  5. #5
    Registered User kiki1982's Avatar
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    Jun 2007
    Saarburg, Germany
    Milton's Paradise Lost for a definitive guide to the frist chapters of Genesis.

    Dante's Divina Commedia, for a definitive guide to Hell, Purgatory and Heaven.

    I don't know, some mythology? But who t choose? Was Herodotos not one notable author in that category? Failing that, you could also list Aesop for his fables or La Fontaine for his...
    One has to laugh before being happy, because otherwise one risks to die before having laughed.

    "Je crains [...] que l'âme ne se vide à ces passe-temps vains, et que le fin du fin ne soit la fin des fins." (Edmond Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac, Acte III, Scène VII)

  6. #6
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    Reading Milton kind of works against you though due to the garganutan number of allusions he makes to classical mythology, and most people are more than a little familiar with the opening of Genesis.

    Bullfinch's Mythology would be perfect for you. It retells effectively every story you would need to know in an enjoyable, easy way and ends each story by citing at least a couple of poetry fragments (usually from someone like Milton, or Keats or Byron etc) that allude to the story just read.

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