Mon

12

Jan

2015

19th century (1800-1920)

After I did my List of 28 (for one-year undergrad instruction) that I find the need to limit to before 1800 (choosing Kant instead of Marx), I start to feel that an undergrad education that does not include the canonical texts of the 19th century defective. 

 

Now, because of my theory that it takes at least a century (3 generations) for canonization to solidify, and because of my sheer lack of systematic knowledge of post-1920 humanities (especially literatures), I limit myself to before 1920. But what ends up happening is that the last work chosen is Freud's 1900 Interpretation of Dream. For an undergraduate semester, this list is selected to include 14 texts. In the 19th century, the West definitely dominates - but I still try to make it such that the core areas of UK/France/Germany to account for not more than half of the texts chosen. Also tries to include both thinkers and literary works. (And added in a historian.)

 

Cannot say this is by any means representative, just a first try.

 

1. Jane Austen (Pride and Prejudice, 1813) - beginning of sentimental novel, the main modern form of literary

 

2. Goethe (Faust, 1832) - top name in German literature

 

3. Mickiewicz (Pan Tadeuz, 1834) - revered work in several countries in  Eastern Europe (Poland, Lithuania, Belarus)

 

4. Sarimiento (Facundo, 1845) - a foundational work of modern Latin American Spanish literature

 

5. Burckhardt (The Civilization of Renaissance in Italy,1860) - modern history in German; work is foundation of art / cultural history

 

6. Hugo (Les Miserables, 1862) - Top French literary figure in the 19th century, novel better known outside France (viewed primarily as poet in France) - still basis of movies and broadway play

 

7. J.S. Mill (Utilitarianism, 1863) - most important Anglo-Saxon political philosopher in the 19th century

 

8. Ghalib (Diwan, 1869) - most important Urdu / Persian author before 20th c. (Iqbal)

 

9. Tolstoy (War and Peace, 1869) - representative Russian novel well-studied internationally

 

10. Fukuzawa (Bunmeiron no Gairyaku, 1875) - paradigmatic Japanese (and subsequently influenced other East Asian thinkers) thinker's response to Western civilization

 

11. Machado de Assis (The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas, 1881) - Revered Brazilian Portguese author

 

12. Marx (Das Kapital, 1883) - philosopher, a founder of sociology, major contributor in economics, founder of Communism

 

13. Abduh (Risalat al-tawhid, 1897) - Paradigmatic response to the West from Islamic / Arabic Egypt

 

14. Freud (Interpretation of Dreams, 1900) - Founder of modern psychology


This list includes works in English (2), German (4), Polish, Spanish, French, Urdu, Russian, Japanese, Portuguese, and Arabic. Out of world's 12 most widespread languages, only Chinese (no truly paradigmatic works in this transitional period), Bengali (whose major figure Tagore, just like Gandhi and Iqbal, fit more with post-1920 world than before - even though his Gitajanli is pre-1920, but that will be just like Gandhi's Hind Swaraj is pre-1920) and Bahasa Indonesian (not sure what the canonical work there is here). 


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Note on Jan 25, 2015: Just finished Mark Sedgwick's 2009 biography of Muhammad Abduh - and learnt that Abduh's Risalat al-tawhid, as translated, is the version edited / tone-changed by Rashid Rida, who was in his outlook much more conservative / fundamentalist than Abduh - was was more pro-European / liberal. Thus likely need to replace item 13 if / when I work on a new version of the list.

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