English 287: Great Books
General Study Guides for Reading Fiction
An Agenda of Curiosity for Reading Fiction
Mortimer Adler, "How to Read a Difficult Book" offers some succinct advice that applies to any difficult work, whether fiction or non-fiction.
Study Guides for particular works taken up in our course
I have cooked up a Study Guide on Cat's Cradle in four parts.
- SG to Chapters 1-35
- SG to Chapters 36-65
- SG to Chapters 66-96
- Sg to Chapters 97-127
There is a SparkNotes Guide to Cat's Cradle
Here you can sample some of the materials in the SparkNotes Guide to CC. If you like what you see, you can either order the entire guide in paperback format or acquire an on-line membership to SparkNotes.
For more, see our page of Links relating to Kurt Vonnegut and Cat's Cradle.
We have our own Study Guide to The Odyssey, in six parts.
Here are a couple of other on-line guides
For more, see our page of Links relating to Homer and The Odyssey.
We have our own Study Guide to Oedipus the King.
Here are a couple of additional guides available on-line:
For more, see our page of Links relating to Sophocles and Oedipus Rex.
For more, see our page of Links relating to Shakespeare and King Lear.
For more, see our page of Links relating to Molière and Tartuffe.
Here are a couple of additional on-line guides:
- SparkNotes Guide to Don Quixote
- BookRags Book Notes: Don Quijote
For more, see our page of Links relating to Cervantes and Don Quixote.
For more, see our page of Links relating to Fielding and Tom Jones.
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
For more, see our page of Links relating to Robert Pirsig and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.
General Study Guides for Reading Non-Fiction
In addition to study guides for reading literary works, there are important helps for learning to read other kinds of material with greater understanding. Here are a couple worthy of mention.
Paul N. Edwards, How to Read a Book: Guidelines for Getting the Most out of Non-Fiction Reading. You can also read and print the same article in pdf format, which might be better because the HTML version (the first link) has to omit a couple of useful diagrams.
Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren, How to Read a Book, 2nd Ed. (Simon and Schuster). This classic in itself was designed as a companion to the University of Chicago's Great Books Program, now under the auspices of Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc.
There is a synopsis of How to Read a Book, with comments, by Bobby Matherne.
Adler is certainly one of the most influential Americans of the Twentieth Century. Sooner or later you would want to get acquainted with The Adler Archives, a site devoted to his life and work. (While you're at it, you might take note of some other sub-sites at the the Radical Academy, which is where it resides.)
Suggestions are welcome. Please send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org .
Contents copyright © 2002 by Lyman A. Baker.
Permission is granted for non-commercial educational use; all other rights reserved.
This page last updated 26 August 2002.