Books in Foreign Languages

Before World War One wiped out a generation of educated young men--before its consequences expunged the remnant of European culture in a suicidal confrontation (manipulated by bloodthirsty demagogues) between a traditional Catholic bourgeoisie and unlettered, uprooted masses--literacy had raised no higher monument to the human spirit than this small continent's.  Some Americans disparage Europe today.  We should remember with compassion and deep regret, however, that our neighbors in contemporary France, Italy, and elsewhere north of the Mediterranean are but surviving castaways at least as separated as we from their glorious past.  The Europe celebrated on this page is a magnificent relic which must be dug out from under the rubble of "progress's" miseries.


"If an architect learns bogus physics, his buildings collapse.  If an astronomer offers voodoo projections, his comets don't show up.  In the Humanities, however, there are few such chastenings from contact with a world where people eat, sweat, marry, and die.  An English or philosophy professor can utter the most outrageous claptrap and be applauded for it as long as his 'independence' parrots the party line of his department's ruling élite.  Foreign language is unique in calling the bluff of the 'arts'.  If you claim to know Latin, you can either translate Deus dabit his quoque finem, or you can't.  Small wonder, then, that foreign language programs have been steadily shrinking as Multicultural Studies programs burgeon.  Few of the faculty steering these latter juggernauts can so much as comprehend a reading assignment from the second-year text of their undergraduate Spanish requirement.  Their intellect is as miserably undisciplined as their taste and erudition are superficially groomed.  In the learning of a foreign language lies the bedrock of a classically liberal education; yet today's sages of PC constantly struggle to keep their rhetorical façades propped up when one steps too heavily on the floor, where even plain English shows cracks and holes at a glance."

Dr. John Harris

Executive Director of The Center for Literate Values

Click here for a selection of splendid insights from classical and European authors.


Celtic Languages (Irish and Welsh)



Greek (ancient)




Some of these titles are not available through Amazon (which is especially weak in German and Italian).  We have built links to in some such cases: these links are followed by the abbreviation "Sch."  However, titles constantly pass in and out of stock at Schoenhofs (more so than at Amazon), and these links will occasionally be inactive.  The purchase of foreign-language books calls for persistence, and will frequently take you to used booksellers like where the condition of volumes cannot be guaranteed.

Many of the following titles may be found in English translation by conducting an Internet search for their authors.

Celtic Languages (Irish and Welsh)

The selection of Irish Gaelic books is abundant in specialty stores overseas like Kenny's Bookshop, in Galway, Ireland (, and Cúpla Focal in Wicklow (  Literature in Welsh is harder to obtain.  Here we recommend mostly titles which have accompanying English translations.  All are either collections of folklore and legend or else, as one might expect, have a very traditional flavor.  Unfortunately, several of these few bilingual editions are no longer available.  We offer their titles, anyway, in the hope that the reader may have more luck than we in tracking them down.

David Greene (ed.).  Duanaire Mhéig Uidhir: The Poembook of Cú

     Connacht Mág Uidhir  (not available).

These sixteenth-century laudations of the Maguire family are more interesting for indicating how people (and particularly poets) thought in traditional societies than for relating imaginative images or intricate tales.  Definitely for those of a scholarly turn. 

Robin Gwyndaf (ed.).  Chwedlau Gwerin Cymru: Welsh Folk Tales


Published by the National Museums and Galleries of Wales, this large, sturdy paperback is grandly illustrated and presents brief versions or summaries of some sixty-three legends or folk cycles associated with various Welsh places and historical figures.  The introduction is a bit dense with scholarly jargon.

Gordon MacLennan (ed.).  Seanchas Annie Bhán: The Lore of

     Annie Bhán  (limited availability).

A very accessible hardback to the casual student of both folklore and Gaelic.  English on facing pages.  Old Annie had a great many tales of the Fianna and other legendary figures to entrust to the compiler's tape recorder as she bustled about her household chores, and her Irish is the simple speech of a country woman.

The Gaelic word bán, "white", was often used to designate fair-haired people, just as dubh attached to the black-haired, donn to the brown, and ruadh to the red.  In English, these very traditional coinages were rendered into the surnames "Bain" or "Vaughn", "Dow", "Dunn", and "Rowe".

Brian Merriman.  The Midnight Court: Cúirt an Mheán Oíche (available)

Ireland is not supposed to have participated significantly in the Renaissance, let alone in Neoclassicism; but this extraordinary poem about a simple churl's vision of elegant courts and regal ladies might have flowed from the pen of Pope.  It bristles with subtle, often ironic insights into such delicate subjects as sexual mores and politics.  A small paperback, very affordable.

Niall Ó Dónaill (ed).  Seanchas na Féinne  (in print; republished 1998).

Though this edition of Legends of the Fianna hasn't a word of English in it, we have proceeded to recommend it.  Professor Ó Dónaill's mild adaptation of matter from medieval sources like the Silva Gadelica into modern Irish has created, to our mind, a Homeric classic in language as well as content.  The pages of this paperback ring with heroism, hubris, and tragedy... if, that is, you can learn enough Irish to savor the effect.

Seán Ó Duinn (ed).  Forbhais Droma Dámhgháire: The Siege of

     Knocklong  (out of print: limited availability).

Packaged as a fairly small paperback, this obscure little epic from southern Ireland is distantly medieval in its fixation upon names, places, and clan rivalries which mean nothing to most modern students of literature.  Yet the tale has quite enough of the wild and the weird to stir that taste which we happen to share with the Middle Ages: a fascination with the otherworldly.  

Anthony Raftery.  See Criostoir O'Flynn under "Fiction" on our English list

     for a description of the excellent bilingual edition, Blind Raftery.

James Stewart (ed.).  Boccaccio in the Blaskets  (limited availability)

Contrary to American Webshop's assertion, the author of this collection was no more Giovanni Boccaccio than were Virgil or Statius the authors of the Irish Aeneid and Thebaid.  The degree of adaptation here is admittedly rather less than it would have been in the Middle Ages; but this paperback (which you can obtain with persistence) proves yet again that the Irish had a vigorous, centuries-old industry in transforming continental classics into their own.

Pádraig Ua Cnáimhsí.  Idir an Dá Ghaoth  (in print: published 1997)

There must be hundreds of retrospectives about western Ireland and the old days, but we couldn't resist listing this one.  The Gaelic is fluid and won't send a student with just a few years' learning to the dictionary at every sentence.  At the same time. Pádraig is a treasure trove of rare information--as when he tells the story of the Aran Islander sentenced to a hundred days' labor for hauling a piece of driftwood from His Lordship's beach and making a gate of it!

The Celtic languages are spoken nowadays (with apologies to various nationalists in the British Isles) mostly as a rather artificial way of underscoring independence from England.  In fact, Cornish is defunct, and Breton is scarcely in better shape.  If Irish and Welsh have fared somewhat better, it is not just because of political activism, but also because of a vigorous effort over the past century to preserve rich folk traditions often rooted in the first millennium.  We do not encourage the writing of rock lyrics or Web-marole in these exotic, delicate tongues--an approach which, we feel, must simply accelerate their degeneration into that uniform grunt-speak for which we are probably all destined.  The books recommended here employ their language as it was used long before the days of Thomas Edison.


There is no modern literary tradition more infused with "bon sens"--with the proportion that reigns between things, or rather with the reigning symbiosis between the good and the beautiful--than that of France.  Of course, the present age has witnessed a decline of general taste to the level of instant popular referendum or arcane academic parlor game: France has no more escaped the insipid, often brutal dullness of "the progressive" than other Western nations.  But for anyone who wishes to wrest himself from a pitiable time and construct for himself a proper education, French literature poses an essential reference, and even a very promising point of departure.

Alain-Fournier.  Le Grand Meaulnes

This is perhaps the most beautiful  pastoral--sad, dreamy, rustic, and nostalgic--ever composed within a national tradition that has produced many elegant examples of the genre.  Available in English under the title, The Wanderer.

Charles Baudelaire Les Fleurs du Mal

Petits Poèmes en Prose

This giant of French literature, whose genius for forging symbols and malign subtlety at unmasking mixed motives is universally admired, profoundly resists the thrust of naively liberal ideas.

Pierre Benoit L'Atlantide Sch.

Benoit's greatest novel is a sexual as well as geographical odyssey whose psychological dimensions are so numerous and deep that the book verges on surrealism.

Henri Bergson.  Deux Sources de la Morale et de la Religion

L'Énergie Spirituelle

Essai sur les Donnés Immédiates de la Conscience

L'Évolution Créatrice

Matière et Mémoire: Essai sur la Relation du Corps à l'Esprit

Le Rire: Essai sur la Signification du Comique

Oeuvres Complètes Sch.

In the sterile debate between Darwinists and believers who insist upon making of their faith a historical empiricism, the perceptive genius of Bergson has been all but forgotten.  A scientist of the first order, he nevertheless applied himself to feeling out the limits of material explanations as the twentieth century dawned with an eloquence that charmed an entire generation.

Georges Bernanos.  Essais et Écrits de Combat, Tome 1

Essais et Écrits de Combat, Tome 2 Sch.

Dialogues des Carmélites

Les Grandes Cimetières sous la Lune

La Grande Peur des Bien-Pensants

Journal d'un Curé de Campagne

Oeuvres Romanesques Complètes

Sous le Soleil de Satan

Bernanos displays a Catholicism at once mystical and traditional in that he believes in active supernatural presences--be they divine or diabolical--ever ready to surprise us along life's road.

Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette.  Oeuvres  (Éditions de la Pléiade)

Tome 1              Tome 2 Sch.              Tome 3 Sch.

The minor masterpieces of Colette (Gigi., Chéri, La Chatte--click on the highlighted words for specific information) are far too numerous to cite here in their entirety.  The Pléiade edition has collected almost all of them, and is hence well worth its extraordinary expense.

Wherever possible, we have offered links to the Éditions de la Pléiade series.  These volumes are bound in leather, printed on very fine paper, and researched carefully to provide the most authentic text.  Naturally, they tend to be more expensive than other editions: they make superb gifts for special occasions.

René Descartes.  Discours de la Méthode

Méditations Métaphysiques

**Oeuvres et Lettres  Sch. (Édition de la Pléiade)

If pressed to label one man the father of rationalism, one could do worse than to advance M. Descartes.  Although he anticipated our modern sciences on several fronts, Descartes remained sincerely and lucidly religious, as the Meditations prove.

Georges Duhamel.  Cécile Parmi Nous

Chronique des Pasquier

Chronique des Saisons Amères

Le Combat Contre les Ombres

Compagnons de l'Apocalypse

Deux Hommes

Le Notaire du Havre

Passion de Joseph Pasquier

Suzanne et les Jeunes Hommes

Le Voyage de Patrice Priot

Once highly esteemed, at present virtually forgotten, Duhamel chronicled--in his novels about the Pasquier family--the agonizing era from the Industrial Revolution's full-throttle point to the disastrous years of World War One, and his later novels probe into the middle of the century.  Although his works fall neatly into no political camp, the struggle of his sympathetic characters  against a stupefying bureaucracy has many points of correspondence with our contemporary crisis.  We would do well to rediscover these works--even if only to inform our bluntly politicized readings!

Jean Giono.   Colline     Provence      Jean le Bleu      L'Homme Qui Plantait des Arbres

Oeuvres Romanesques Complètes:    Tome 1     Tome 2     Tome 3     Tome 4     Tome 5

Giono is a heathen of the most disarming and unpretentious sort.  Without the slightest hint of intellectual posturing--and with irresistible surges of naive reverence--he sings the raw, rusted simplicity of life where water is transported in pails and where mountains and forest fires have their own demonic spirit.  A unique respite from modernist ideology and post-modernist sophistry. 

Pierre Lasserre.  Le Romantisme Français

One of the most brilliant critical works of the twentieth century had scarcely seen the light of day when the catastrophic forces of this period swept it into the abyss, along with the last traces of resistance to our dominant nihilism.  The reader should undertake to procure a copy by any means possible!

Pierre Lasserre's Romantisme Français burst upon the Parisian academic community like a bombshell in 1907.  Its wholesale denunciation of Rousseau's self-serving rhetoric and of the narcissistic effusions which broke down the dam of shame, decency, and proportion during the next century was so powerfully worded and well documented that every starry-eyed utopian was put to flight.  (See the Sidebar below under Garman Literature.)  Unfortunately, a very real war was just on the horizon.  In its wake, the young men who had escaped slaughter were nonetheless poorly educated by traditional standards.  Even those who had managed to make the acquaintance of their heritage now found it stale and meaningless.  Lasserre's commentary upon the last era of that heritage was hence allowed to molder upon the ash heap, as if it had grown irrelevant.  Had this generation only read him carefully, Western Europe might have been spared the dual poisons, both refined from romantic anti-rationalism, of fascism and communism.

Jacques Maritain.  Court Traité de l'Existence et de l'Existant Sch.

De Bergson à Thomas d'Aquin

Humanisme Intégral

Religion et Culture

Responsabilité de l'Artiste

Oeuvres Complètes Sch.

A fine, ingenious spirit--a scholar at once Thomist and progressive--Maritain resisted all political and academic coteries of the troubled decades after the Second World War.  His generation displayed a tendency (which, indeed, has tormented the whole century) to choose either absolute authority or atheist secularism.  Not Maritain: for him, reason always had a role to serve.

Roger Martin du Gard.  Les Thibault     Tome 1     Tome 2     Tome 3

Oeuvres Complètes          Tome 1     Tome 2

It is very puzzling that our era should have forgotten Martin du Gard.  Awarded the Nobel Prize for Les Thibault (a collection of painstaking novels whose composition required twenty years), he always restrained himself from sermonizing in these psychological studies.  His only sins against "post-modernism" were no doubt to have been bourgeois (which is to say, "possessed of common sense") and to have refrained from political activism.

François Mauriac La Fin de la Nuit

Le Mystère Frontenac

Le Noeud de Vipères

Le Romancier et Son Personnages

Thérèse Desqueyroux

**Oeuvres Romanesques et Théatrales--Complètes (Éditions de la Pléiade)

Tome 1 Sch.           Tome 2 Sch.           Tome 3 Sch.          Tome 4 Sch.

Other than Bernanos, France has produced no Christian novelist throughout the twentieth century more celebrated than Mauriac.  The latter's enigmatic characters oppose social and psychological complexity to the former's primordial struggle of symbolized forces.

Charles Louis de Secondat Montesquieu.

Lettres Persanes

**Oeuvres Complètes  (Édition de la Pléiade)          Tome 1 Sch.          Tome 2 Sch.

Among the most brilliant stars of the century known as the Enlightenment, Montesquieu radiates his analytic and serene intelligence upon the then-unexplored shadows of human social class, custom, and governance.

Blaise Pascal.  Pensées


Oeuvres Complètes           Tome 1 Sch.         Tome 2 Sch.

Pascal died before imposing a clear order upon his portrait of our vain, pitiable humanity ever losing its way when reduced to its own resources.  All the same, he has become the Western civilization's incorruptible homilist and intimate confessor in his Pensées.

Henri Poincaré.  Analyse et la Recherche

Science et l'Hypothèse Sch.

Science et Méthode

Valeur de la Science Sch. 

Poincaré, a close friend of Bergson and possessed of a lucid style, adopted nothing of the "scientist" manner of reasoning and living which prevails everywhere today among people in lab coats.  At the same time, his central thesis sowed the fields where Einstein would harvest: "L'expérience ne nous prouve pas que l'espace a trois dimensions; elle nous prouve qu'il est commode de lui en attribuer trois, parce que c'est ainsi que le nombre des coups de pouce [aux objects extérieurs] est réduit au minimum" ("Experience does not prove to us that space has three dimensions; it proves to us that attributing three to it is convenient, because only thus can we reduce our sculpting [of exterior objects] to a minimum"].

François de la Rochefoucauld.  Maximes et Pensées

The spirit of classicism, skeptical and fortified against human folly, is nowhere more acerbic than in La Rochefoucauld.  Should we call this pessimism--can we be quite confident that so pitiless an observer of our vanity is not, in fact, the supreme realist?

Jules Romains.     Donogoo Tonga, Le Bourg Régenère     Le Mort de Quelqu'un

La Scintillante       La Naissance de la Bande       Le Dieu des Corps 

Un Grand Honnête Homme       Préface à Verdun and Verdun unavailable

Scholars sometimes credit (or accuse) Romains of founding unanimism in French literature--as if the early twentieth century needed another -ism!  Let us simply say that no French writer of any time--nor any writer, perhaps, at any point in literary history--has displayed more generic versatility and a more comprehensive grasp of the human condition while showing so much finesse in registering the faintest ghosts which drift across the human subconscious.  From satirizing commercial marketing to teasing out the evidence of extra-sensory perception to lyricizing the magic of friendship to painting the epic dismay of World War One, Romains is never stale or blunt.  His disappearance from the canon is incomprehensible, and his opus is in itself sufficient argument for a literary canon. 

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.  Citadelle

Pilote de Guerre

Terre des Hommes

Vol de Nuit

**Oeuvres Complètes  (Édition de la Pléiade)          Tome 1           Tome 2 Sch.

A novelist-pilot whose legend continues to fascinate the whole world, Saint-Ex sketched out an incontestably masculine universe.  Hence his works draw a relentless "flak" today from part of the academy--but his robust vision only seems to emerge the stronger for it.  We urge the serious reader to go beyond Le Petit Prince.

We might also note (since this is a "literate" note) that the loving attention lavished upon this series reflects a broad cultural belief in the canonical.  Like the Académie Française (an organization which "polices" standard French and elects the day's most eloquent authors to its numbers), the Pléiade series strikes many of the professoriate in the U.S. as profoundly élitist--and so it is, inasmuch as excellence cannot be propagated equally throughout any group of human beings.  American literati who wonder how so conservative a tradition could have produced the likes of Jacques Derrida, Jean-François Lyotard, and Michel Tournier will find the answer in the terms of their question.  That is, such radical movements as Deconstruction were largely a reaction against the French academy's rigorous structure.  The strictest parents have the wildest kids. 


The whimsical philosopher Johann Fichte explained that German literature surpassed the rest of Europe's in its fidelity to the primitive heart of mankind.  Unfortunately, he was quite right.  Beside the many German works which fancifully revive a mythic past or gullibly explore a misty destiny, we can cite few as traditional or disciplined by human limitation. 

Heinrich Böll.  Ansichten eines Clowns Sch.

Billard um Halbzehn Sch.

Brot der Frühen Jähre Sch.

Ende der Bescheidenheit Sch.


Es Kann einem Bange Werden Sch.

The phenomenon of Böll (if we may call it so) unites the postmodern mistrust of everything--the compromising of all human motives--with an irrepressible irony.  For Böll, both disillusioned romantics and progressive capitalists are good cause for a few smiles and a worthy brunt of subtle jokes.

French literary scholar Pierre Lasserre wrote these words almost a century ago: "German pantheism had some small justification to claim descent from Spinoza, who divinized the world--but only through his geometric order, which is to say as a rationalist.  It had even less cause to compare itself to Greek polytheism, a parallel wherein the pretension of Germans at this time to form a 'primitive' and, so to speak, virgin race figured greatly.  The gap between Greek polytheism and German pantheism is not simply a difference of genre, but an essential contradiction.  The former represents the gods as having various qualities and definite natures, while the second confounds all qualities into an indefinable nature.  One is the chrysalis of philosophy and science, while the other is the abyss of obscurantism where those disciplines are annihilated.  The former, through the formidable power of personality attributed to the gods, attests to a recognition of human personality's importance.  In the being ascribed to the German spirit, on the other hand, there is no freedom of choice for intellect or for esthetic taste--merely Nature, in its brutal and indeterminate totality, in its perceptible images and in the infinite unknown which the imagination can arbitrarily posit beyond these images."

We couldn't think of a better way to express the frustration of trying to find culturally conservative authors from the imaginative German tradition.  The German impatience with limitation, even in frequent atavistic endeavors to dredge up a mythic past, is legendary.  Nothing is more obvious to the conservationist of traditions, however, than that worship of the past (fascism) and worship of the future (Marxism) are equally benighted in their ignorance of our basic limits.  Sorry, Deutschland.

Wolfgang Goethe Dichtung und Währheit Sch.

Erzählungen Sch.

Faust Sch. (2 Bände--sehr teuer) 

Faust, Erster Teil Sch.         Faust, Zweiter Teil Sch. (billiger Wahl)

Die Leiden des Jungen Werthers

Märchen Sch.

Novelle Sch.

Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjähre Sch.

Goethe's remarkable life, which often carried him through literary genres corresponding to historical epochs (the epic, the epode, the folktale, the confession, and so on), seems to trace the maturing of humanity as well as of one author.

Franz Kafka.  Amerika

Das Ehepaar Sch.

Der Process Sch.

Das Schloss Sch.

Die Verschollene Sch.

Die Verwandlung

**Gesammelte Werke Sch. (8 Bände)

No possible "thumbnail sketch" of Kafka's work would be adequate--but then, none is necessary for this author who seems to have materialized right out of our most secret misgivings.  That Kafka's frightful fantasies may after all be true is Western culture's worst nightmare.

Immanuel Kant Kritik der Praktischen Vernunft Sch.

Kritik der Reinen Vernunft Sch.

Kritik der Urteilskraft Sch.

Religion innerhalb der Grenzen der Blossen Vernunft Sch.

Der Streit der Facultäten Sch.

If all modern philosophy is a postscript to Nietzsche, all post-Kantian philosophers are at best an anti-climax caused by romanticism (that is, by the romantic impatience with limit and devotion to the senses: Kant himself greatly admired the romantic faith in common humanity which he found in Rousseau).  All fine philosophical analysis essentially ended with Kant.  Besides the three famous critiques, we also recommend here several little-known but very profound works.

Gottfried Keller Kleider Machen Leute Sch.

Leute von Sedwyla Sch.

Romeo und Julia auf dem Dorfe Sch.

Züricher Novellen Sch.

If there is any difference between the Arcadian and the Utopian (as there surely is: simplicity is not the same as transformation nor sufficiency the same as apotheosis), then Keller's romanticism is more conservative than progressive.  For Rousseau, nature was abandoned once and for all (depending upon his mood), and only radical political change could follow; for Keller, living nature was a defense against progressive illusions.

Thomas Mann.  Buddenbrooks Sch.

Doktor Faustus Sch.

Felix Krull Sch.

Joseph und Seine Brüder Sch.

Der Tod in Venedig Sch.

**Sämtliche Erzählungen               Band 1 Sch.              Band 2 Sch.

Although the works of Mann give no sense of ethical rigor grounded in firm conviction, his balance in identifying the essential forces of human psychology at least bespeaks an aesthetic order.

Erich Remarque Drei Kameraden Sch.

Im Westen Nichts Neues Sch.

Remarque is the great poet of the period between the two world wars.  In his hands, precious things irretrievably squandered and vibrant things incurably wounded are an unspoken indictment of mad political ambitions.

Drei Kameraden: An Abridged Version for Beginners (Erich Remarque) is available through Amazon.  For more advanced German scholars, Amazon is largely a waste of time.  The reasons for this are no doubt profit-driven: if they don't buy it, why offer it?  At The Center (which, of course, is non-profit), our philosophy is the reverse: if you don't offer it, how can they buy it?

And why, then, do "they" buy French and Spanish books but not German and Italian ones?  Part of the answer probably goes back to WWII--or, more exactly, to the academic Left's beloved grudge against fascism.  Solzhenitsyn has written of the callousness with which Russian peasants who embraced the Third Reich for liberating them from Stalin were herded back to their executioners after the war.  (In some cases, the Allies slaughtered those who refused to go.)  It seems that we can forgive Stalinist and Maoist hecatombs because of their ideological "purity", whereas no amount of punishing the culture which gave us Hitler and Mussolini is excessive.  
Greek (ancient)

We have sought to refer the reader to Heinemann's Loeb Classical Library wherever possible: all works listed belong to this publisher unless otherwise noted.  Loeb texts offer Greek on the left page and English on the right.  In some cases (e.g., Homer), translations are so numerous that we instead recommend--for the sake of cost, space, and scholarly pursuits--a text which contains only the original Greek and a critical apparatus at the bottom.

Aeschylus.  Septem Quae Supersunt Tragodiae  (Oxford Classical Text) Sch.

Aristotle.  Athenian Constitution/Eudemian Ethics/Virtues & Vices

Metaphysics, Books 1-9;        Metaphysics, Books 10-14/Magna Moralia

Nicomachean Ethics

Like Cicero (who greatly admired him), Aristotle was a prolific writer and an esprit fin without parallel in his culture.  Yet he lacks his Roman heir's rhetorical skill, and many of his works are quite dry.  We include here those which are most consequential in the moral sphere.

Diogenes Laertius.  Lives of Eminent Philosophers (2 vols.)

The brief biographies of great philosophers offered by Diogenes Laertius can be gossipy to the point of slander or downright fable, but his work remains an excellent means of seeing a complex subject in effective overview.

Epictetus.  Discourses  (2 vols.)

Epictetus was a great popularizer of Stoic doctrine.  His writings are seasoned with so many peppery exhortations and saline caricatures that, of his school's many great exponents, none produced a body of work which has better survived the erosion of centuries.

Euripides.  Fabulae  (Oxford Classical Texts)

Vol. 1 (includes Medea, Hippolytus)          Vol. 2 (includes Supplices, Troades)

Vol. 3 (includes  Phoenissae, Bacchae)

In his recent Return to Chivalry, Peter Singleton writes, "Women are more Aristotelian: pleasure, for them, must number among the natural, healthy 'goods' of life along with a clean conscience.  Men are more Stoical, and in a sense more Platonic: unless they have been as feminized as today's man, they are more likely to be scandalized by those who straddle the boundary between self-interested and 'pure' goodness" (p. 25).

Whether or not you agree with this assessment, it capsulizes a great deal that has been published about gender in the "latest research" (usually either a comparative neurological study of brain functions or a psychological analysis based on clinical observations).  Amazing, isn't it, that one literary scholar armed with the classics can arrive at conclusions which required years of extravagantly funded research for today's "cutting edge" to reach!  There are really very few new ideas anywhere (none, according to the Roman playwright Terence: nihil dictum quod non dictum prius).  Even Freudian theory, for that matter, is little more than a reprise of of the delicately balanced psychic elements one finds warring in the dramas of Euripides.   

Herodotus.  Histories   Books 1-2     Books 3-4     Books 5-7     Books 8-9

Dividing his account of the two Persian invasions of Greece into nine books--one for each Muse--Herodotus viewed himself as an epic poet in prose.  His half-factual, half-fabulous opus is a wealth of obscure information about the eastern Mediterranean before Rome's rise to power.

Hesiod.  Works and Days/Epic Fragments

Many of the ancients considered Hesiod to be even older than the legendary Homer.  Certainly his Theogony and other epic fragments are replete with Homeric formulas and bits of hoary myth.  The Works and Days, in contrast, is a window upon the life and beliefs of a hard-working man of the soil who enjoys no special advantages.

Homer.  Iliad 1-12; Iliad 13-24  (Oxford Classical Texts)

Odyssey 1-12; Odyssey 13-24  (Oxford Classical Texts)

The cultivation of literary taste began with Homer for centuries.  No two works have more penetrated the West's collective unconscious than the Iliad and the Odyssey.  

Josephus.       The Jewish War, Books 1-3       The Jewish War, Books 4-7

This Jewish priest and  erudite chronicler who soldiered against the Romans observed the destruction of his faith's holiest places and left us a moving commentary of the entire ill-considered war.

Marcus Aurelius Antoninus.  To Himself  

Though a Roman, the emperor Marcus Aurelius wrote his classic reflections upon the Stoic life in Greek so as to preserve them better from uninitiated eyes, and also, perhaps, to be freed of having to find Latin equivalents for Greek terms.  A serene, uplifting, and humane text.

Plato.  Loeb Vol. 1 (Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Phaedo, Phaedrus)

Loeb Vol. 2 (Laches, Protagoras, Meno, Euthydemus)

Loeb Vol. 3 (Lysis, Symposium, Gorgias)

Loeb Vol. 4 (Cratylus, Parmenides, Greater Hippias, Lesser Hippias)

Loeb Vol. 5 (Republic, Books 1-5)

Loeb Vol. 6 (Republic, Books 6-10)

Loeb Vol. 7 (Thaeatetus, Sophist)

Loeb Vol. 8 (Statesman, Philebus, Ion)

Loeb Vol. 9 (Timaeus, Critias, Cleitophon, Menexinus, Epistles)

Loeb Vol. 10 (Laws, Books 1-6)

Loeb Vol. 11 (Laws, Books 7-12)

Loeb Vol. 12 (Charmides, Alcibiades I & II, Hipparchus, Lovers, Theages, Minos)

Real philosophy begins with Plato (just as it ends with Kant).  The contemporary materialist ignores Plato's idealism at the cost of all higher purpose to life, and the hard-line Calvinist ignores his inner revelation at the cost of all moral coherence.

Plutarch.  Moralia

Vol. 1  (on education, studying, listening)

Vol. 2   (on friends and enemies, virtue and vice, superstition)

Vol. 3  (sayings of kings, Romans, Spartans, women)

Vol. 4  (various comparisons between Greeks and Romans)

Vol. 5  (Isis and Osiris, subjects concerning Delphi)

Vol. 6  (discussions of various virtues: e.g., controlling anger, preserving serenity)

Vol. 7  (discussions of various vices: e.g., greed, envy, hate)

Vol. 8  (Table Talk, 1-6)

Vol. 9  (Table Talk, 7-11)

Vol. 10  (issues involving statecraft and approaching powerful men)

Vol. 11  (On Herodotus, Causes of Natural Phenomena)

Vol. 12  (essays on the Moon, coldness, the elements, animals)

Vol. 13  (Platonic Essays)

Vol. 14  (Stoic essays)

Vol. 15  (replies to Epicurus and Colotes, On Music)

Vol. 16  (Fragments)

Plutarch is one of the most astute analysts of classical antiquity.  Positioned at the seam between Greek and Roman culture, and at another between the Republic and the Empire, he enjoyed an ideal vantage to comment upon epoch-making changes in history, science, religion, morality, politics, and manners.

Sophocles.  Fabulae  (Oxford Classical Text)

Thucydides.  History of the Peloponnesian War

Vol. 1 (Books 1-2)    Vol. 2 (Books 3-4)    Vol. 3 (Books 5-6    Vol. 4 (Books 7-8)

Like Herodotus, Thucydides viewed his meticulous account of Athens' self-destruction during the Peloponnesian Wars as Homeric in scale--and so it is.  With his regard for detail and corroboration, however, Thucydides has clearly crossed the dividing line into something like modern historiography.

Xenophon.  Anabasis

It has been suggested that the Anabasis (or "upward walk" from the Eastern Mediterranean coast into the heartland of the Persian Empire) inspired Alexander to challenge the Persians on their own terrain.  Certainly the lean, straightforward style of this riveting account inspired Julius Caesar literarily in composing accounts of his own military expeditions. 


Various political movements have caused the Italian language and its literature to be undervalued in the United States.  Italian emigrants themselves have historically manifested little interest in conserving their belles lettres against Anglo-Saxon customs (a heritage which, in any case, had seldom been entrusted to these humble laborers and artisans).  Recent arrivals to our nation from South America have been still less lettered, of course--but the sheer volume of Spanish-speakers and their proximity to their native land have operated as a counterpoise to Anglo culture.  If one then considers the fascism/communism polarity so volatile in Italy throughout the twentieth century (neither of whose alternatives was ever very attractive to most Americans), and also the fervent Catholicism of previous centuries which has become anathema to contemporary academe... no wonder, really, that the most ancient of European traditions should have been all but canceled from our anglophone memory.

Of these editions, only Silone's are available at Amazon.

Ludovico Ariosto
Orlando Furioso

Although the English poets (Milton, Spenser, et al.) submitted the Orlando to a mercilessly straight-faced reading, this forgotten masterpiece is every bit as ironic as the Quixote--probably more so.  Ariosto discerns in the mighty chivalric heroes of the Middle Ages so many manifestations of a pathology all too well known to us ordinary people: absorption in egotistical fantasies.

Luigi Capuana Il Marchese di Rocaverdina

A would-be "verist" of Giuseppe Verga's stamp,  Capuana nevertheless created in this novel a work of classical tragedy.  His protagonist, the eponymous Marchese, hurls himself into a frightful hell despite (or because of) his will to lord it over the people like a proper aristocratic tyrant of yesteryear.  It would be difficult to find a more devastating ending in the literature of any modern language; and yet, the devastation lacks neither a compassionate touch nor instructive potential (in contrast, say, to Madame Bovary or virtually all of Verga's stories).

Dante Alighieri.  La Divina Commedia

Inferno               Purgatorio               Paradiso

Attempting to list the various editions of the Commedia would prove futile: we have linked above to that of the "Grandi Libri" series.  Consider also, by all means, the superlative English/Italian critical edition of John Sinclair (click here).

Grazia Deledda.  Canne al Vento

Il Paese del Vento

Naufraghi in Porto

Awarded the Nobel Prize in 1927, Deledda remains almost unknown outside of Italy, notwithstanding the prominence of feminism in recent literary studies.  It is entirely possible that her devout Catholicism may have proved a fare difficult to digest for our Young Turks and their diet of intellectual "fast food"--or perhaps our contemporary Marfisas just haven't made for themselves sufficient repose to read widely.

Antonio Fogazzaro.  Piccolo Mondo Antico

Few novels of the twentieth century have managed to weave a drama that does not finish in madness, absurdity, or death (among which disheartened efforts must be included Fogazzaro's own Malombra di Fogazzaro stesso).  The subtle hope offered in this novel's final pages, then, must be considered a rare and wonderful creation.

Giovanni Guareschi.  Anno di Don Camillo

Ciao Don Camillo

Il Compagno di Don Camillo

Don Camillo della Bassa

Mondo Candido

Piccolo Mondo Borghese

La Scoperta di Don Camillo

The twentieth century has inspired few humorists with its various ideology-primed executioners.  Of these very few, even fewer have possessed the irony of a traditional realist rather than the absurdism of a grandstanding iconoclast.    Guareschi and his lovable two-fisted village priest, Don Camillo occupy this rarest of niches.

Giacomo Leopardi.  Canti


Although Leopardi seems to be much-cited as the premier Italian romantic poet, this solitary man of delicate health detested what he perceived as romanticism.  Of refined taste and classical style, and mildly misanthropic in his inclinations, Leopardi always remained considerably more aristocratic than utopian (to the formidable extent that one excludes the other).

Many of us at The Center believe that the English-speaking world's abandonment of foreign language and of continental letters generally since the sixties has inflicted no sadder wound than the loss of Italian literature.  Italian was never championed by emigrants from the old country (as the introductory note to the right observes), and Italian Catholicism made the American academy fidget even before it started imbibing hallucinogens regularly.  Yet Tasso and Ariosto were bedside reading for the English Renaissance, and Dante surely remains one of the five greatest authors of all time to people who still compile anthologies.  The bemused and skeptical postmodern, especially, is doing himself out of a treat by neglecting the Orlando Furioso, which Galileo recognized as an extremely fine study of complex character and mixed motives, and which Peter Wiggins plausibly credits with being the first modern novel. 

Alessandro Manzoni.  I Adelchi

I Promessi Sposi

A historical novel conceived on the grand epic scale of Walter Scott's--yet concentrated upon a few country people of simple heart--I Promesi Sposi (The Betrothed) may well be the  Italian masterpiece most neglected by postmodernists and least known to the Anglophone world.  It goes without saying, of course, that Manzoni's robust and sublime drama, I Adelchi, has very nearly disappeared from view.

Ippolito Nievo Le Confessioni di un Italiano

An extraordinary work--the fictional reminiscences of an octogenarian composed by a young man of not yet thirty years!  Nevertheless, this portrait of seventeenth-century rural Italy, though sometimes bordering on an idyll (especially in the early chapters), has few sentimental excesses.

Silvio Pellico.  Le Mie Prigioni

The agonizing experiences of Pellico in the Austrian prison at Spielberg were inflicted upon him only because of a few mild authorial indiscretions.  Confronted with these years devoid of hope, escape, or justice, the wretched Pellico came to recognize both his own vain pride of earlier times and the compassionate presence of a God familiar to suffering.

Ignazio Silone.       Pane e Vino       Il Segreto di Luca       La Scuola dei Dittatori

The Pythian aphorism, "cristiano senza chiesa e socialista senza partita" ("Christian without a church and socialist without a party"), well summarizes Silone's independent spirit.  Disaffected with a Communist movement for which he had risked his life as a youth, Silone remained no less suspicious of the Byzantine, often highly corrupt hierarchy of the traditional Church as it appeared to him in provincial life.  One might say that he thereby burned all his bridges--but this is not, after all, an unimpressive testimony to any person's earnestness. 

Torquato Tasso.  Gerusalemme Liberata

The Renaissance resuscitated the classical epic in more than a few efforts informed by a solemn, often allegorized Christian dimension.  We moderns are seldom moved by their attempts: Tasso's nostalgia for the Middle Ages ends up puzzling us.  The attractively heroic characters of this near-novel, however, will be far from uninteresting to the thoughtful reader.


We have sought to refer the reader to Heinemann's Loeb Classical Library wherever possible: all works listed belong to this publisher unless otherwise noted.  Loeb texts offer Latin on the left page and English on the right.  In some cases (e.g., Virgil), translations are so numerous that we instead recommend--for the sake of cost, space, and scholarly pursuits--a text which contains only the original Latin and a critical apparatus at the bottom.

Gaius Iulius Caesar         Gallic War              Civil Wars

                                                  Alexandrian, African, and Spanish Wars 

This was the Caesar on whose account the name "Caesar" resonates even today--the source of Kaisar and Czar and several other appellations whose owners hoped to steal a shaft of sunlight from antiquity.  It happens that Julius Caesar, whatever his many faults as a human being, was quite a literary stylist.  School children still read his Latin commentaries on various military expeditions before they advance to Cicero or Virgil because Caesar wrote with such unpretentious lucidity.

Marcus Tullius Cicero De Finibus Bonorum et Malorum

De Natura Deorum

De Re Publica/De Legibus

Tusculanae Disputationes  (Teubner edition)

Cicero, of course, is best known as an orator today, and Classics programs almost never teach his philosophical works.  To the Middle Ages, however, the latter were immensely more important, and The Center can only second the medieval judgment.  Cicero was a very keen analyst whose merits pass largely unrecognized in our time of shallow nihilism.

As a website friendly to intelligent faith in things unseen (e.g., moral obligations), we prefer not to recommend the De Rerum Natura of Lucretius, though this proto-materialist argument for a hedonistic ethic is immensely popular today.  Among most thoughtful Romans, the name of Epicurus (Lucretius' guiding light) was synonymous with dull wits: cf. Cicero's De Divinatione 2.56.116.  At, however, if you do a search for Cicero's De Natura Deorum, you will be directed to dozens of tomes by and about Lucretius, such is the currency of the "pleasure principle" and his only-what-you-can-touch reality.

Quintus Horatius Flaccus (Horace).  Odes and Epodes

Satires, Epistles, and Ars Poetica

Whatever Horace's declared political and philosophical convictions (and there was nothing outspoken about the former, if they existed, while the latter were unambitiously Epicurean), he is a mainstay of the Western tradition.  No educated person should be unfamiliar with him.  Some of his lines are well worth memorizing even today, moriture Deli!

Titus Livius (Livy).  Ab Urbe Condita  (Teubner edition)

14 volumes total in Loeb Classical Library: if you can afford the investment,

click on Volume 1 (Books 1-2) and keep following Amazon's links to others.

Livy is the Roman Thucydides in many ways, though he writes mostly about events long before his time.  No other single work views Roman history with such breadth as the Ab Urbe Condita (From Rome's Foundation), and few rival its degree of detail. 

Marcus Annaeus Lucanus Bellum Civile

Lucan's excessively lurid account of the civil war between Caesar's and Pompey's forces (sometimes called the Pharsalia after its major battle) is, at the very least, a historical curiosity, replete with dismemberments, witchcraft, walking dead, improbable reptiles... a long, long way from Virgil, both in exoticism of content and in irregularity of style.  Cave lector!

Publius Ovidius Naso (Ovid).  Metamorphoses

First Half (Vol. 3 in Loeb: Books 1-8)          Second Half  (Vol. 4 in Loeb: Books 9-15)

The notion of an epic where everything turns into something else (as opposed to one where every facet of basic reality is stabilized for posterity) is so inside-out that some scholars attribute Ovid's exile to the Metamorphoses.  Still, this anarchic ramble proved so seminal in medieval and Renaissance literature (where its irony passed unnoticed) that the traditionalist must pay it a bow.

Lucius Annaeus Seneca.  Moral Essays

Vol. 1 (De Providentia, Constantia, et al.)           Vol. 2 (De Vita Beata, Otio, et al.)

Vol. 3 (De Beneficiis)

Like much on this website, Seneca's Epistulae Morales will not appear at any level of instruction in any Classics department's course catalogue, even though they were required reading of all educated people until about 1900.  We know of one "great scholar" who refers to their author as "that old bore"--a worse sin, apparently, than being a young boor.

Gaius Sallustius Crispus.  Bellum Catilnae et Bellum Iugurthinum

Belonging to Cicero's generation, Sallust chronicled the fascinating destruction of the adventurer Catiline, and also the rise of Marius and Sulla during the wars of northern Africa.  His style offers rare examples of Latin prose before it was fixed within Ciceronian rules.

Publius Papinius Statius.       Vol. 1 (Silvae, Thebaid 1-4)       Vol. 2 (Thebaid 5-12)

For centuries, a Latin-literate West adjudged the Thebaid to be a near-second to the Aeneid, though contemporary scholars (betraying the prejudices of their time in that fashion for which they so freely condemn their predecessors) have determined the work to be wearisome and without creativity.

Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus.      Lives of the Caesars, Vol. 1  (Julius, Augustus,

     Tiberius, Caligula)       Lives of the Caesars, Vol. 2  (Claudius, Nero, Galba, Otho, Vitellius,

      Vespasian, Titus, Domitian)

Suetonius was responsible for giving us biographies of the Caesars which inspired such racy modern works as Robert Graves' I, Claudius.  However, his fluidity of style is often hindered by a tendency to strain the decaying case system to the breaking point, and also by a keen interest in details of Roman bureaucratic life which would fascinate only a classical historian.  

Cornelius Tacitus.  Agricola/Germania

Histories 1-3         Histories 4-5/Annals 1-3

Annals 4-12          Annals 13-16

A complex stylist, Tacitus has risen in popularity lately due to his interest in the non-Roman "otherness" of the Germans and Britons and in the perversion and morbidity of decadent emperors like Tiberius--but don't expect unadulterated PC.  His moral pronouncements trumpet the "judgmental flaws" of acumen and character!

Valerius Flaccus.  Argonautica

Considered a second-rate epic--and an unfinished one, at that--this little-known work is actually quite smooth and true to its objective.  Modern classicists who set a premium on innovation are at odds here with the very culture they claim to understand.

Publius Vergilius Maro (Virgil).  P. Vergili Maronis Opera  (Oxford

    Classical Text: contains Eclogues and Georgics as well as entire Aeneid).

The struggle between inner moral lights and culturally sanctioned duty in Virgil's Aeneas would give any practicing Jew or Christian much food for thought today, and has occasioned bitter disputes among classicists (most of whom are unassisted by any metaphysical beliefs at all).

The decline of the liberal arts and of learning "useless" lessons about how to generalize in the direction of the universal (once known as taste) can be linked directly to the discarding of foreign languages from the curriculum at all levels.  What instruction of this kind remains is almost always geared toward verbal skills--in other words, toward "usefulness" in the marketplace and politics.  Most languages other than American English, in fact, once drew a fairly rigid distinction between vulgar speech (from the Latin vulgus, the common people) and formal literary usage.  No Greek sailor ever spoke Homeric.  Yet nowadays, those same languages are following English in disparaging and ignoring the literary tradition as élitist and irrelevant.  It is a sad state of affairs, and the academy is nowhere close to recognizing that a liberal arts institution must emphasize reading and writing at the expense of speaking.


If the modern author is a bird typically characterized by the plumage of progressive ideology, the Spanish author is so  a fortiori.  An intellectual surrounded by rustic, often illiterate populations, this elite figure's friends and brothers have profited from their education by becoming privileged bureaucrats; while, for his part, the author (for in Hispanic culture, "he" is usually accurate of professionals as well as the grammatical default-value) pens tomes against a manifestly unequal system until invited to lecture at a Yanqui university.  Not a promising recipe for a literature which honors Western tradition!  We have struggled to unearth a specimen here and there which exhibits a regard for the past's spiritual riches, or even just an irony before the present's ideological puerility.  The endeavor is hard going, however.  In Mother Spain herself over the past century or so, "conservatism" was more likely to signify a Fascist/Falangist joy of blowing things up in counter-revolutionary zeal than a respect for universal and enduring truths.

Antonio Azorín.  Diario de un Enfermo Sch.

Doña Inez Sch.

Isla sin Aurora Sch.

Pueblos Sch.

Ruta de Don Quixote Sch.

**Obras Escogidas Sch.

Azurín carried a wistfully poetic late-nineteenth-century style well into the twentieth: he was one of his generation's few authors to resist successfully the Franco regime's taste (enforced by censorship) for bald propaganda.  His characters are vulnerable and suffer almost imperceptibly, if steadily, from being connected to their place and time--another way of saying, perhaps, that ambiance dominates this author's work as a sunset dominates the landscape beneath it.

Pío Baroja.  Las Inquietudines de Shanti Andía  Sch.

La Nave de los Locos Sch.

Los Pilotes de Altura Sch.

Obras Escogidas  Sch.

José Cadalso.  Cartas Marruecas Sch.

Noches Lugubres Sch.

The influence of Montesquieu's Lettres Persanes is no doubt manifested in Cadalso's Cartas Marruecas; but Noches Lugubres offers us a melancholic, almost sepulchral atmosphere which is surprisingly far from rationalist lucidity and indicative of this eighteenth-century author's versatility.

Miguel Delibes.  Los Santos Inocentes

Here is an intimidating read--each chapter of the work consists of one long sentence!  To be sure, a poetic effect--ultimately not forced at all--arises from the breathless narration as we perceive how the story's tragic events merely reflect the few characters' personalities.  A study more in class than personality, frankly, this unique work yields a glimpse at the social pressures destined to explode shortly into the Spanish Civil War.

José Donoso.  Coronación Sch.

Este Domingo Sch.

The Chilean novelist Donoso's characters continually tap the same brooding, meandering introversion as do Faulkner's--and indeed, the two authors were contemporaries.  In both novelists, besides, a dominant pessimism has its roots in the human heart rather than social circumstances which appear to be dramatically crucial.  This essential detail renders their work capable of enlightening the thoughtful reader (as opposed to energizing the politically correct one).

Rómulo Gallegos.  Canaima Sch.

Doña Bárbara

A son of Venezuela once held in high honor, then disgraced and exiled in the twentieth century's turbulent middle years, Gallegos was no friend either of international corporate interests nor of megalomaniac political leaders.  Such sentiments hardly constitute an opposition to a genuine regard for healthy custom and fine manners.  A true cultural conservationist, as we find in this gifted story-teller, always condemns the excesses of human egotism and of unbridled luxury.  Why is that nowadays such a daring proposition?

Gabriel García-Márquez.  Cien Años de Soledad

El Coronel No Tiene Quién le Escriba

El General en su Laberinto

La Hojarasca

Los Ojos del Perro Azul

Que García-Márquez haya tenido unas sentimientas marxistas acerca de la explotación de los sencillos y los desgraciados es ben conocido; mas una simpatía por las virtudes tradicionales de éstos tristes y humildes puede resultar profondamiente conservador.  Lo "mágico-realismo" del autor a más meno no parece de nada ideologico. 

Ricardo Güiraldes.  Don Segundo Sombra

Aun por nosotros cinicos poco simpaticos con la denuncia, "Opresión de mujeres!", los gauchos de Güiraldes sembran varoniles a expensas de toda fineza caballerosa. Pero la infantil barbaridad de estos vagabundos montados es sin duda realistica.  Además el heroico Don Segundo no tiene parte en tales vicios--el aspecto meno realistico della novela.  En esta implausabilidad consiste la poesía güiraldiana.

Gabriel Miró.

El Humo Dormido  Sch.

El Obispo Leproso  Sch.

Nuestro Padre San Daniel  Sch.

Augusto Monterroso.  Cuentos Sch

Lo Demás es Silencio Sch

Movimiento Perpetuo Sch

Viaje al Centro de la Fabula Sch

Monterroso (born in Honduras) is an unlikely and perhaps unjustifiable selection for this page: his humor can lapse into the sort of weary academic parlor game which is better assured of garnering tenure than of winning faithful readers.  Yet he sometimes possesses the genuine sophistication of a Borgès and the lurking humanism of a Flann O'Brian--sufficient title, surely, for an honorable mention on our roll of substantial literary figures.

Nowhere in Europe did the intellectual class longer resist literary employment of the vernacular than in Spain.  (This includes Ireland, where monks were putting classical epics into Gaelic by the twelfth century and where scholars like O'Curry disdained English and Latin alike.)  Even early Spanish resurrections of Roman literature--like the dark Renaissance comedy La Celestina--imitate Terence rather than Virgil.  The whole is oddly lacking in seriousness, since that register had been claimed by sacred writing.  No wonder the picaresque was born here, in works like the delightful Lazarillo de Tormès.

In the New World, of course, where no such restraining conventions existed, there was also--and for the same reason--no philosophical body of common knowledge and no political ethic beyond might-makes-right.  Hence, despite its proliferation throughout the twentieth century, Spanish literature in the Western Hemisphere has little of that "groundedness" which suits a "classic books" website.  We are eager to receive recommendations in this category, however.  Please write us if you have one at .

José Ortega y Gasset.  Obras Completas (6 vols.)

La Rebelión de las Masas

Ortega y Gasset, writing in the troubled years before and immediately after the Spanish Civil War, is often credited--and quite rightly--for prophesying the miseries of the contemporary world.  The collected works cited above are (at the moment) available for less than his celebrated Revolt of the Masses.

Benito Pérez-Galdos.  Caballero Encantado

Cuentos Fantásticos Sch.

Desheredada Sch

Doña Perfecta

Fortunata y Jacinta (2 tomos)


Prohibido Sch

A consummate story-teller in the style of the nineteenth century, Galdos was particularly impressed by human evil as he saw it in contrasts between progressive, philanthropic city-dwellers and jealous, unprincipled provincials--a contrast, one might say, which turns the Eden/Fall prototype upside-down and substitutes a very Old World Spanish alternative.

Francisco de Quevedo.  Historia de la Vida del Buscón

Los Sueños

El Buscón/Obras Jocosas/Los Sueños/Poesías 

Every scholar interested in the classical "katabasis" (or the descent to the infernal world and interrogation of its inhabitants) should be aware of the burlesque Sueños along with Homer, Virgil, Boiardo, Milton, and all the rest.

Juan Rulfo.  Pedro Páramo y El Llano en Llamas

The classical "katabasis" (or descent to the Underworld) of Pedro Páramo is resurrected here as in Los Sueños of Quevedo--but no gesture toward the burlesque or the instructive is visible in Rulfo's nightmarish twentieth-century version of the journey.  The narrative is rather a labyrinth of turns and returns which arrive at no comprehensible exit.  Less formidable are the short stories of Llano en Llamas.  In our opinion, these surpass the works of Hemingway in their dry "minimalism" and constitute a masterpiece of modern Mexican literature.

Paco Ignacio Taiba II.  Sombra de la Sombra

No one could compose a more pleasant fiction about the anarchist life (in the word's political sense, but in others, as well).  Those of us who inhabit the drab everyday world where we seldom get off a shot at our mortal enemies (and never with much effect) should feel free to enjoy these "four musketeers" without further meditation.

Miguel Unamuno.  Abel Sanchez

Agonia del Cristianismo Sch.

En Torno al Casticismo Sch.


Paz en la Guerra Sch.

San Manuel Bueno Martir

La Tía Tula

La Vida de Don Quixote y Sancho

Obras Completas (all from Schoenhof's)    Tomo 1       Tomo 2       Tomo 3       Tomo 4

The novels of Unamuno are philosophical, and his philosophical writings resemble novels!  Endowed with a rigorous, lean style, his hope in any sort of simple happiness in this ever-complicated and soiled world is likewise spare.

For those who care to mull over such things, Spanish authors generally fare rather well at Amazon--but only certain ones.  García-Márquez (whose inclusion on a traditionalist list  perhaps strains logic) and Unanumo lead one to the conclusion that most of the demand for these authors is being generated, once again, in the academy.  This is to be expected, if not to be wished of an ideal citizenry.  Still, why aren't colleges teaching Azorín or Cadalso?  Too archaic and Castilian, perhaps--too dead and "irrelevant"?  What a set of criteria for drawing up a syllabus!

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