If you have ever wondered why we must read the Great Books, Dr. Eva Brann gives six excellent reasons in this article at the Imaginative Conservative. This is the transcript of a speech that she gave to the Torrey Honors Institute, which you can listen to here. I could listen to Dr. Brann all day long. In fact, she is a faculty member at my dream master’s program at St. John’s Annapolis. Perhaps someday . . .
These books all share one characteristic: They are demanding. They’re not taken up lightly, nor do they go down easily, nor are they irritatingly inscrutable. They are, instead, difficult. Some, like Hume’s great Treatise, are lucid on the surface and more and more complex as you penetrate it; others, like Kant’s Critiques, are obscure when you first open them but become quite intelligible as you go. All require your undivided attention and repay it with insights that are at once new to you and also welcome to your intellect. They deliver adventitious, that is, novel, matter which nevertheless immediately sits well in your intellect—or rouses energizing opposition. The fictions among these works also require alert being-there. You can’t scan or abstract a great novel: The plot is an extrusion of the characters’ being, not their prop, as in a routine romance. Continue reading at The Imaginative Conservative.