by Fadiman, Clifton
In print for almost 40 years, The Lifetime Reading Plan has long been a worthy addition to any serious reader's bookshelf, providing entertaining and informative introductions to the great works of Western civilization. Now, this "classic about classics" has been updated to reflect more diverse traditions. The New Lifetime Reading Plan recommends great literature from around the globe, including writers and works from Confucius to Chinua Achebe, Gabriel García Márquez to the Koran. Also new is an appendix profiling books by 100 important 20th-century authors--or "temporary classics," as coauthor John S. Major calls them.
Readers may argue with some of the selections (or, more likely, the omissions). Others may quarrel with the editors' opinions; they routinely analyze artists' "characters,"with occasionally prissy or patronizing results. (Of Walt Whitman, for instance, coauthor Clifton Fadiman declares that "He had an original temperament, a certain peasant shrewdness, but only a moderate amount of brains.") But no one can argue with the book's mission: promoting the classics as "life companions." "Once part of you, they work in and on and with you until you die," Fadiman writes in the introduction. Anyone seeking a guide to the vast riches of world literature need look no further than the The New Lifetime Reading Plan; it provides a gateway to the greatest achievements of the human mind.