The missing Aristotle, the preserved pulp fiction
by Ellen Rocco on March 6th, 2012
First, he backed up every bit of internet data…anywhere, ever. Then, he decided the world needed to save a copy of every book (the old-fashioned kind). Brewster Kahle is a 21st century Ptolemy:
” ‘We want to collect one copy of every book,’ said Brewster Kahle, who has spent $3 million to buy and operate this repository situated just north of San Francisco. ‘You can never tell what is going to paint the portrait of a culture.’
As society embraces all forms of digital entertainment, this latter-day Noah is looking the other way. A Silicon Valley entrepreneur who made his fortune selling a data-mining company to Amazon.com in 1999, Mr. Kahle founded and runs the Internet Archive, a nonprofit organization devoted to preserving Web pages — 150 billion so far — and making texts more widely available.
But even though he started his archiving in the digital realm, he now wants to save physical texts, too.”
Here’s the link to the full NY Times article.
I love the Herculean quality to Kahle’s undertaking. Okay, here’s the question: what books (up to 10 titles) would you want with you on a desert island…or preserved for generations to come?
I wouldn’t presume to pick ten books to impose upon generations to come, but I’ll do the desert island with a caveat that the list can change tomorrow, and that’s a good thing, IMO (there are a couple-three, however, that will never fall off my list).
* The Collected Poems and Plays, T.S. Eliot.
* Also Sprach Zarathustra, Nietzsche (trans. W. Kaufmann)
* On Music, Stockhausen (ed. Maconie)
* The Sonnets, Shakespeare
* Faust, Goethe (trans. W. Kaufmann)
* I Can’t Go On, I’ll Go On: A Beckett Reader (ed. Seaver)
* Finnegans Wake, James Joyce
and, assuming I’ll have no stereo system on my island:
* Das Lied von der Erde, Mahler (music score)
* The Late Quartets, Op 127-135, Beethoven (music score)
* Into the Labyrinth, Maxwell-Davies (music score)
Okay, Bob, you have not only produced a list of stunning erudition, you have made me feel like a literary lightweight, a dilettante. However, I encourage others to plunge in with lists of their favorite books. By the way, Bob, I’ve read most of your list and I’m familiar with the music you cited, but except for the Shakespeare, none of the other books would have occurred to me for a “favorites” list…it’s been decades since I read them and I admit to not revisiting them as a mature reader.
I do know I would bring all three volumes of my Chinese language books–on a desert island I would finally have time to become truly literate and memorize those 10,000 characters. I’d be talking to myself anyway, so why not in Chinese?
My favorite book by Joyce was “Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man.” I would also add “Steppenwolf” by Hermann Hesse and “Death in Venice” by Thomas Mann.
For music, just about everything by Bob Dylan and this can also go into the poetry corner. I would also include “Free Bird” by Lynyrd Skynyrd and Landslide by Stevie Nicks.
Ellen, indeed, why not a foreign a language. You have your Chinese, I have Finnegans.
Ha, I love it. Finneganese…
Preserved, mostly but also desert island.
Joseph Heller, Catch-22
Bill Bryson, A History of Everything
Herbert J. Muller, The Uses of the Past
Mark Twain, Complete Works of (cheating? Sorry).
Wm. Shakespeare, ditto.
Several authors: The Holy Bible
Edw. Gibbon: The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (sequel to above).
John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
Paul Johnson, Modern Times
Stephen Greenblatt, The Swerve
Okay, OnewifeVetNewt, now I have to look up Stephen Greenblatt…not familiar with him…
Thanks for mentioning The Swerve, Newt. That seems right up my alley (just read a review on WaPo).
Ellen & Bob-
I lost this thread, and just now found it. Anyway, glad it tickled something. Ellen,”The Swerve” won the National Book award for History, or something like that. It’s about the rediscovery during the Italian Renaissance of the Roman poet Lucretius’ “De Rerum Natura”, which presented a very materialistic, scientific, humanistic, and, politically incorrect (for the mid-1300s) view of the universe, and the subtle, but very powerful impact this had on subsequent thoughts and events.
Excellent, Onewife…I’m going for it, after I get through at least three more of the books already on the pile…