When I started out writing this blog it was my intent to illustrate how writers can use the online Guttenberg Library. The Guttenberg Library or Project Guttenberg is a site which offers books free and online. These books can be downloaded to many portable electronic devices as well as PCs. The over 30,000 books on Project Guttenberg were scanned by thousands of volunteers the books are found in the public domain based upon US copyright law.
As a writer this huge resource provides a peek into classic literature, history and little known treasures that have stay buried until now. Several years ago when I became interested in the tenets behind The Secret, and I learned that the philosophies of the Law of Attraction were age old one of the first places I turned for more information was the Guttenberg Library. Starting with the digitization of the Declaration of Indepence in the early 1970s Project Guttenberg is a demonstration of openness early in the use of computers for the digital presentation of documents and information.
Project Guttenberg maintains several “top 100” lists of resources, such as those most accessed, 100 top e-books, and the 100 top authors. One of the most popular books lately is Alice In Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. The most recent top five authors are:
- Carroll, Lewis (1394)
- Twain, Mark (1374)
- Doyle, Arthur Conan, Sir (1334)
- Dickens, Charles (1111)
- Shakespeare, William (1008)
One thing to keep in mind is that as you review resources on a global scale copyright laws differ across international boundaries, what you can see here you may not be able to see in another country and vice versa. Another site I found interesting and full of a wealth of resources is that of the online British Library. There is a great deal of information and research to be found on this site. A search for King Henry VIII reveals this website. A video of King Henry VIII”s Psalter is here.
Google books moved into the digitization of print resources in a big way and with a great deal of controversy. If you appreciate open content, “openness,” then you will appreciate the initiative undertaken by Google to digitize the world’s knowledge. The progress of this initiative impeded by legal action on a global scale against Google what they have done will definitely change how we expect to access our resources in the future.
The philosophy behind Google Books is as follows:
This same philosophy lies behind Google Books. We believe a tool that can open up the millions of pages in the world’s books can help remove the barriers between people and information and benefit the publishing community at the same time. Many of the world’s largest publishers have joined our Partner Program so that readers everywhere can discover their books. These partnerships are very successful, and the program continues to grow.
There are two sides to the argument for and against what Google is trying to do..ultimately they argue that their initiative provides a means for authors works to become discovered and does not violate copyright laws, nor is this imitative an attempt usurp authors income.
Another large resource site that I am somewhat familiar with is The Internet Archive. The Internet Archive is a non-profit digital library with the stated mission: “universal access to all knowledge.” It offers permanent storage and access to collections of digitized materials, including websites, music, moving images, and books. The Internet Archive was founded by Brewster Kahle in 1996.
These resources provide the user to access to the books the may provide a basis for a learning curriculum. The concept of the great books curriculum is nothing new. According to this wikpedia entry: The Great Books Program is a curriculum that makes use of this list of texts. As much as possible, students rely on primary sources. The emphasis is on open discussion with limited guidance by a professor, facilitator or tutor. Students are also expected to write papers.
Below is a list of great books from that same website.. The links will take you back to the corresponding wikipedia page:
- Homer: The Iliad, The Odyssey
- The Old Testament
- Aeschylus: Tragedies
- Sophocles: Tragedies
- Herodotus: Histories
- Euripides: Tragedies
- Thucydides: History of the Peloponnesian War
- Hippocrates: Medical Writings
- Aristophanes: Comedies
10. Plato: Dialogues
11. Aristotle: Works
14. Archimedes: Works
16. Cicero: Works
18. Virgil: Works
19. Horace: Works
21. Ovid: Works
27. Lucian: Works
30. The New Testament
34. The Nibelungenlied
39. Leonardo da Vinci: Notebooks
52. William Shakespeare: Poetry and Plays
58. John Milton: Works
59. Molière: Comedies
64. Jean Baptiste Racine: Tragedies
90. William Wordsworth: Poems
- Honoré de Balzac: Le Père Goriot; Eugénie Grandet
- Ralph Waldo Emerson: Representative Men, Essays, Journal
- Nathaniel Hawthorne: The Scarlet Letter
- Alexis de Tocqueville: Democracy in America
- John Stuart Mill: A System of Logic; On Liberty; Representative Government; Utilitarianism; The Subjection of Women; Autobiography
- Charles Darwin: The Origin of Species; The Descent of Man; Autobiography
- Charles Dickens: Works
- Claude Bernard: Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine
- Henry David Thoreau: “Civil Disobedience“; Walden
- Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels: Capital; The Communist Manifesto
- George Eliot: Adam Bede; Middlemarch
- Herman Melville: Moby-Dick; Billy Budd
- Fyodor Dostoevsky: Crime and Punishment; The Idiot; The Brothers Karamazov
- Gustave Flaubert: Madame Bovary; Three Stories
- Henrik Ibsen: Plays
- Leo Tolstoy: War and Peace; Anna Karenina; What is Art?; Twenty-Three Tales
- Mark Twain: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn; The Mysterious Stranger
- William James: The Principles of Psychology; The Varieties of Religious Experience; Pragmatism; Essays in Radical Empiricism
- Henry James: The American; The Ambassadors
- Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche: Thus Spoke Zarathustra; Beyond Good and Evil; The Genealogy of Morals; The Will to Power; Twilight of the Idols; The Antichrist
- Jules Henri Poincaré: Science and Hypothesis; Science and Method
- Sigmund Freud: The Interpretation of Dreams; Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis; Civilization and Its Discontents; New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis
- George Bernard Shaw: Plays and Prefaces
- Max Planck: Origin and Development of the Quantum Theory; Where Is Science Going?; Scientific Autobiography
- Henri Bergson: Time and Free Will; Matter and Memory; Creative Evolution; The Two Sources of Morality and Religion
- John Dewey: How We Think; Democracy and Education; Experience and Nature; Logic: The Theory of Inquiry
- Alfred North Whitehead: An Introduction to Mathematics; Science and the Modern World; The Aims of Education and Other Essays; Adventures of Ideas
- George Santayana: The Life of Reason; Skepticism and Animal Faith; Persons and Places
- Lenin: The State and Revolution
- Marcel Proust: Remembrance of Things Past (the revised translation is In Search of Lost Time)
- Bertrand Russell: The Problems of Philosophy; The Analysis of Mind; An Inquiry into Meaning and Truth; Human Knowledge, Its Scope and Limits
- Thomas Mann: The Magic Mountain; Joseph and His Brothers
- Albert Einstein: The Meaning of Relativity; On the Method of Theoretical Physics; The Evolution of Physics
- James Joyce: “The Dead” in Dubliners; A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man; Ulysses
- Jacques Maritain: Art and Scholasticism; The Degrees of Knowledge; The Rights of Man and Natural Law; True Humanism
- Franz Kafka: The Trial; The Castle
- Arnold J. Toynbee: A Study of History; Civilization on Trial
- Jean-Paul Sartre: Nausea; No Exit; Being and Nothingness
- Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: The First Circle; Cancer Ward
Examples of a great book curriculum exist here on the National Great Book website.
In this presentation I illustrated the sites which provide access to timeless pieces work now digitized and available on the web, access to great books, videos and other artifacts now readily available on the web. The great books curriculum was presented to illustrate how reviewing these resources, having access to these works and writing about them can improve your writing and understanding of the structure of significant literature.