The Origins of Contemporary English Thought
Greek, Near Eastern, Islamic, and Roman thought, are there in the texts which influenced Christian, philosophical and scientific thought, all of which came to influence the vocabulary and ideas of the spoken and written word in the royal courts of London by the time of Middle English (12th – 15th centuries). This came about through the combination of the Norman tongue, Latin, some Greek, and the pre-existing Germanic language of Britain.
The English language, after the invention of the printing press in the 15th century, the conscious introduction of more Latin in the 17th century, and after colonialisation and the industrial revolution became increasingly broad, and came to the level of sophistication it has today.
Our thoughts and ideas are a complex mixture of influences from all of these sources.
It is the purpose of this reading list, and introductory essay, to offer an infallibale reversal to the situation in which we have a three-tier education system, in which people are severely restricted to one tier or another by financial restraints, which also can permanently dictate the rest of their life and social life, and which can also significantly influence the financial prosepcts of their lives.
It is proposed that this is done by recommending a set of important literary works, which have all significantly influenced English thought and literature, and to propose strategies for at least having some knowledge of them and an understanding of why they are important, and strategies for reading all of them in entirety, in a prioritsing and manageable way, with free online audio, and text and advisory resources.
The aim is to also do this by augmenting the English Literature department of the compulsory National Curriculum (i.e. during and leading up to the current GCSE level), to broaden its scope and awareness of English Literature and it relation to wider European thought and literary development.
It is proposed that the reading of this set of books, (or at least to be going on with some knowledge and understanding of their scope and contents) will give anyone, at no cost, except the teaching of oneself a little self-discipline, an English education comparable in many ways to that offered by a reasonable private school.
It is a knowledge to which other, perhaps more secondary (but very important) knowledges (such as philosophy, novels, other classical literature, history, science, mathematics, religion, and important vocational skills) may be added at will.
Introduction to the Proposed Reading List
The following books (which comprise that set this essay recommends) may be seen to represent not only the finest examples of the art of conveying the imagination into the art-form of words, but also key stages in the the way in which throught has developed across the world, and into Europe, and then into Britain.
As stated previously, with these books taken as the paramount source of understanding thought, knowledge, language, all vocational skills and additional literature, scientific, and historical knowledge, may be added symultaneosuly, or at a later stage, as supplementary.
The proposal here is that these books comprise the shortest route to a complete education, in the English sense, with its stems in the rest of the world, (and to which, as previously stated, all other knowledge may be added.)
It does not take any money to read all the books, merely the teaching oneself of a little discipline (which ultimately saves time), and some way of balancing the time it takes with all one’s other activities.
This may be understood to be a foundational knowledge, serving as a workable structure, which also acts as a socializing force, and which is of course comparable to the kind of knowledge system promoted in most private schools. The message here, is that education is essentially a cultural achievement, one just needs to know how to get, but which one get at no financial cost, and on top of which, other knowledge and vocational skills may also, and more easily be added.
While it takes time and strategies to read the books, even knowing what the books are, why they are important, and some of their content will do a lot to improve one’s education, and thus, in this volume a short introduction to each book is provded, an explanation of why it is important to English thought, and some important passages from the books are included, hopefully to exite interest, and become part of the memory of the reader.