I have been reading into Paul Johnsons Creators: from Chaucer and Durer to Picasso and Disney this weekend. I like it. It is well written (no surprise), which makes some deeper thinking seem lighter than it really is, and I learn something from each page. Look at the chapters on Shakespeare (Falstaff and Hamlet), Jane Austen, Mark Twain, and also Bach; look not to agree, but to see into some of the great ones with Johnsons eyes. Example:
"Indeed, if there is one area in which Shakespeare lacks moderation. it is the world of words. Here he is, in turn, excitable, theoretical, intoxicated, impractical, almost impossible. He lived in a period drunk with words, and he was the most copious and persistent toper of all."
Thanks for reminding me about Johnsons survey of Western words and ideas. I had almost forgotten I saw it a few weeks ago - it looks very interesting. I am reading through Virgils Aeneid with my students. A masterpiece of descriptions about the battle of Troy, feasting, and sea-faring amidst the mighty gales in the first 50 pages. A worthy successor to Homer.
Ive read several of Johnsons, and in fact am now reading his "History of the American People", but Im not sure if I need to read this one.
How does it compare/exceed Boorstins great "The Creators: A History of the Heroes of Imagination"?
Mike: Sorry, I remember nothing about the Boorstin book at the moment. I dont know.
Peter - have you read Harold Blooms "Genius" and how would it compare?
Johnsons "History" is worth reading. It is one of those great surveys that makes you go hmmm... every time you read it. I would also suggest Schweikarts "Patriots History" as well.
Ive never regretted the time Ive spent reading anything of Johnsons. His Intellectuals was great - but Modern Times is particularly insightful. Is Boorstins book worthwhile? I got it second hand last summer but havent had the chance to crack it open yet.
Having read both of Boorstins best. "The Discovers" and the aforementioned "The Creators", I was really curious as to what Paul Johnson has/had brought to this discussion.
His "Modern Times", "History of Christianity", and my currently in progress, "History of the American People" are just superb works of scholarship, yet Boorstins work is almost as good as his "The Discoverers".
As opposed to many here, I have a quite small book buying budget, which, coupled with a small town library enthralled with the Lefts messages, leaves me to be quite particular in that which I purchase.l
One recent purchase has been Orrin Judds "Redefining Sovereignty: Will the Citizens of Liberal Democracies Retain the Right to Determine Their Own Laws and Public Policies or Will They Yield These ... Order and Justice?"