4 June

From James Baldwin's The Book Lover, here are the Books of Power, defined by the author as "the works which embody the best thoughts of the noblest thinkers of all countries and ages." He adds, "in them we perceive the crystallization of human wisdom as it has been made manifest through the grandest intellects of all nations; by the reading of them our minds are lifted into closer companionship with the invisible, the sublime, the everlasting. Such books are for the building up of a lofty character, for the turning of the soul inward upon itself and the fitting of it for greater, stronger, worthier achievements."

This list contains the Books of Power, plus the Blackmoore and Irving entries found in a shorter list in the chapter 'On the Choice of Books'; that shorter list specifies Paradise Lost for Milton, Heroes and Hero Worship for Carlyle, and Oration on the Crown for Demosthenes—thus, thus the separate entries presented in brackets. Baldwin describes this list as that of "famous books [...] which every person who aspires to the rank of thinker should regard as his inheritance from the master minds of the ages."

We should note that the following chapters of this book contain longer lists of books: 'Books Relating to Ancient History', 'Books Relating to Modern History', 'Geography and Travels', 'Philosophy and Religion', 'Political Economy and the Science of Government', 'On the Practical Study of English Literature'. Also, Baldwin's chapter on the Lubbock list gives his own lists of one-hundred "works suitable for a young person's library" and another hundred on "nature and nature study." All of these are excluded not only because, if combined, they would not make for a list sufficiently in subject to match the guidelines of this project, but also on the same grounds as Hutchinson's The World's Best Books [1953] and English and Pope's What to Read [1929] mentioned in the 10 May post: they are more like directories suggesting books on certain subjects for the reader to choose from--not lists of books, each of which is worthy of close reading or historically significant. 

[See also 1 June post]

Addison: The Spectator.

Æschylus: Tragedies. Prometheus Bound has been rendered into English verse by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Agamemnon has been translated by Dean Milman, and the entire seven tragedies by Dean Potter. 
[in the chapter 'On the Choice of Books', Baldwin recommends Plumptre's translation]

Æsop: Fables. The best English edition is probably that of Joseph Jacobs.

Arabian Nights. For most readers Lane's translation is to be preferred.

Ariosto: Orlando Furioso. The standard translation is that of W. S. Rose in Bohn's Illustrated Library.

Aristophanes: Comedies. The translation by John Hookham Frere is admirable.

Aristotle: Selections. Translated by Jowett.

Bacon's Essays.

Bible, The. For a book lover's library, Professor Moulton's Modern Reader's Bible is unsurpassed.

[in the chapter 'On the Choice of Books': Blackmoore's Lorna Doone]

Boswell's Life of Samuel Johnson.

Browne, Sir Thomas: Religio Medici.

Bunyan: Pilgrim's Progress.

Burke's Orations and Political Essays.

Burns's Poems.

Burton, Robert: The Anatomy of Melancholy.

Carlyle's Essays. 
[in chapter 'On the Choice of Books': Heroes and Hero Worship]

Cervantes: Don Quixote de la Mancha.

Chaucer. If not the complete works, at least the Canterbury Tales.

Cicero: Orations, Office, Old Age, Friendship. Long's translation of the Orations is the best.

Coleridge: The Ancient Mariner, Christabel, and Genevieve.

Dante's Divina Commedia. Translated by Longfellow.

Defoe: Robinson Crusoe.

Demosthenes: Orations. A good translation is that of Kennedy in Bohn's Classical Library. 
[in chapter 'On the Choice of Books': Orations on the Crown]

Dickens's Novels. If not all, at least the following: David Copperfield, Dombey and Son, Nicholas Nickleby, Old Curiosity Shop, A Tale of Two Cities, and Pickwick Papers.

Dryden's Poems.

George Eliot's Novels. Adam Bede, The Mill on the Floss, Romola, Middlemarch, 
Daniel Deronda.

Emerson's Essays.

Epictetus: Discourses. Long's edition.

Euripides: Tragedies. Prose translation by Coleridge, in the Bohn Classical Library, or A. S. Way's metrical translation.

Fielding's Tom Jones.

Froissart's Chronicles.

Gibbon: Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

Goethe's Faust. Translated by Bayard Taylor.

Goldsmith: The Vicar of Wakefield.

Hawthorne's Novels. The Scarlet Letter, The Marble Faun, The Blithedale Romance, The House of the Seven Gables.

Herodotus. Rawlinson's translation with notes and special essays is to be preferred.

Holmes: The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table.

Homer's Iliad and Odyssey. The most notable poetical translations are George Chapman's (1611), Pope's (1715), Tickell's (1715), Cowper's (1781), Lord Derby's (1867), Bryant's (1870). The greatest scholars award the pain of merit to Chapman. Says Lowell: "Chapman has made for us the best poem that has yet been Englished out of Homer." The best prose translation of the Iliad is that by Lang, Leaf, and Myers; the best of the Odyssey is that by Butcher and Lang.

Horace's Odes, Epodes, and Satires. There are excellent translations by Conington, Lord Lytton, and T. Martin.

Hugo: Les Misérables.

[in the chapter 'On the Choice of Books': Washington Irving's Sketch Book]

Kalevala, The. Of this national epic of Finland there is a good American translation by John Martin Crawford.

Keats's Poems.

Lamb: The Essays of Elia.

Longfellow's Poems.

Lowell's Works.

Macaulay's Essays.

Mahabharata, The. 

Malory's Morte d'Arthur.

Marcus Aurelius: Meditations. Long's translation.

Marlowe: Tamburlaine, Doctor Faustus, and The Jew of Malta.

Milton's Poetical Works 
[in the chapter 'On the Choice of Books': Milton's Paradise Lost]

Molière's Dramas. Translation by H. Van Laun.

Montaigne's Essays.

Nibelungenlied, The. Lettsom's is the best poetic translation.

Omar Kháyyam's Rubaiyát, by Fitzgerald. There are many good English versions.

Plato's Dialogues. Jowett's translation.

Plutarch: Lives of Illustrious Greeks and Romans. Arthur Hugh Clough's revision of Dryden's Plutarch.

Poe's Poems.

Pope's Poetical Works.

Ramayana, The.

Saadi's Gullistan. Translation by Edwin Arnold.

Scott: The Waverley Novels.

Shakespeare's Works. The following editions of Shakespeare have been issued within the past hundred years: The first Variorum (1813); The Variorum (1821); Singer's (10 vols. 1826); Knight's (8 vols. 1841); Collier's (8 vols. 1844); Verplanck's (3 vols. 1847); Hudson's (11 vols. 1857); Dyce's (6 vols. 1867); Mary Cowden Clarke's (2 vols. 1860); R. G. White's (12 vols. 1862); Clark and Wright's (9 vols.1866); The Leopold Edition (1 vol. 1877); The Harvard Edition (20 vols. 1881); Rolfe's (for schools, 1877-1881); Furness's Variorum (1871-1901).

Shelley's Poems.

Sophocles: Tragedies. Translation by Plumptre.

Spenser's Faerie Queene, not to be read through, but in selections.

Tasso: Jerusalem Delivered. Translation by Fairfax.

Tennyson's Poems.

Thackeray's Novels, especially Vanity Fair, Henry Esmond, The Newcomes, and

Theocritus: Idylls. Andrew Lang's translation.

Virgil's Æneid. Either Connington's or Morris's translation.

Walton, Izaak: The Complete Angler.

Webster's Best Speeches.

Wordsworth's Poems.