Harvard Classics - Reading Guide - June

Jun 1: Marlowe's DR. FAUSTUS

Thrilling Play by Tutor of Shakespeare

For the best blank verse in English, read "Dr. Faustus," the masterpiece
of Marlowe, who gave Shakespeare lessons in playwriting.
This genius knew the secret of gripping drama.

Read from Marlowe's DR. FAUSTUS ...................  Vol. 19, pp. 241-250

Jun 2: Rousseau's A SAVOYARD VICAR

"Back to Nature" in the Seventeenth Century

A "Back to Nature" movement in the seventeenth century was
headed by Rousseau, who believed that civilization was degrading.
To save money for his work, he entrusted each of his children
to the tender mercies of a foundling house.

Read from Rousseau's A SAVOYARD VICAR .....  Vol. 34, pp. 239-249


Pulse Aids Epochal Discoveries

Galileo, by holding his pulse while watching a swinging cathedral
lamp, evolved a theory that made clocks possible. Harvey,
by feeling his pulse, educed that arteries carry blood.

Read from MOTION OF THE HEART AND BLOOD ....  Vol. 38, pp. 75-86

Jun 4: Goethe's EGMONT

'Neath the Iron Hand of Spain

Spain sent the Duke of Alva to subdue the Netherlands. In
quelling disorder he killed the people's hero, Count Egmont.
From this story Goethe made a famous play.

Read from Goethe's EGMONT ............  Vol. 19, pp. 253-259

Jun 5: Adam Smith's WEALTH OF NATIONS

The Rent of Land from Human Food

Even to-day rent is paid in terms of human food. It sounds
primitive, but it happens right at your door—here in the United
States, in compliance with a law as old as man.

Read from Adam Smith's WEALTH OF NATIONS ....  Vol. 10, pp. 149-157


A Shrill Cry in the Night!

A crew faced the hazardous prospect of rounding the bleak Cape
Horn in midwinter. Imagine the terror when a sudden scream
pierced the misery-laden air. What was it? A man overboard
or a lost soul?

Read from Dana's Two YEARS BEFORE THE MAST ....  Vol. 23, pp. 285-295


"There's Rosemary—that's for Remembrance!"

Do you know the rest of Ophelia's famous line? "Hamlet" is
the most popular play in the entire world. It has been quoted
so often that reading it is like meeting an old friend.

Read from HAMLET ........................    Vol. 46, pp. 176-183


Eloquence Wins Over Prejudice

The plain, homely appearance of Woolman impressed unfavorably
the orthodox Quakers in London whom he was sent to
meet. They told him his coming was not necessary. But
Woolman spoke with such simplicity and sincerity that even
those most opposed became his friends.

Read from WOOLMAN'S JOURNAL .............   Vol. 1, pp. 302-312


Enchanting Songs of David

The songs of David pleased King Saul, but when David became
too popular with the people, the king feared for his throne and
banished him.

Read from THE PSALMS .....................   Vol. 44, pp. 168-179

Jun 10: Sophocles' OEDIPUS, KING OF THEBES

Horrible Prophecy Fulfilled

King OEdipus of Thebes as a babe was abandoned on Mount
Cithaeron to die. Years after he was thought dead he returns
to Thebes and unknowingly slays his father, marries his mother—
and thus fulfills the word of the oracle.

Read from Sophocles' OEDIPUS, KING OF THEBES ...  Vol. 8, pp. 209-223

Jun 11: Spenser's THE EPITHALAMIUM

He Sang of His Beautiful Elizabeth

To commemorate his marriage to the beautiful Elizabeth, Spenser
wrote one of the most enchanting nuptial hymns.

Read: Spenser's THE EPITHALAMIUM ...........  Vol. 40, pp. 234-245


Vishnu Holds Up a Battle

"Two armies of ancient India were about to engage in a momentous
battle. Arjuna, heroic leader of the Pandu hosts, foreseeing
great slaughter, hesitates. He implores the divine Vishnu to
intervene. The conversation of the warrior and the god is a
gem of Hindu literature.

Read from THE BHAGAVAD-GITA ................   Vol. 45, pp. 785-798

Jun 13: Plutarch's ARISTIDES

Athens Flouts Aristides

Athenians gave Aristides the title of "The Just." Later they
wanted to banish him. One voter wanted Aristides banished
merely because he was weary of hearing him called " The Just."

Read from Plutarch's ARISTIDES ...............   Vol. 12, pp. 85-94

Jun 14: Plato's CRITO

A Philosopher Prefers Prison Cell

"Socrates unceasingly strove for beauty, truth, and perfection.
Sentenced to death on a false charge, he refused to escape from
the death cell, even when opportunity was offered.

Read: Plato's CRITO ...............................    Vol. 2, pp. 31-43

Jun 15: Froissart's WAT TYLER'S REBELLION

Strikers Storm the Tower of London

Led by Wat Tyler in 1381, great troops of villagers and rustics
marched on London—laid siege to the Tower—sacked the apartments
of the King and murdered his ministers. Froissart gives
first-hand information of this rebellion.

Read from Froissart's WAT TYLER'S REBELLION .......  Vol. 35, pp. 60-72

Jun 16: Byron's MANFRED

Spirits at the Top of the World

The inaccessible mountain tops were ever venerated as the haunts
of all mysteries. Manfred, hero of Byron's play, seeks upon the
high Alps the aid of spirits, specters, and goblins. What unearthly
adventures await him!

Read from Byron's MANFRED ....................   Vol. 18, pp. 415-428


Risked His Scalp in Prayer

John Eliot put his life at the mercy of the redmen to get them
to listen to his preachings. He wrote vividly about his settlements
of Christian Indians. Now villages and Indians have disappeared.
Only his story remains.

Read: Eliot's BRIEF NARRATIVE ................   Vol. 43, pp. 138-146


Cinderella Lives To-day

Cinderella inspires all alike—the artist's brush, the author's pen,
the child's fancy. To-day she is a living, vital character to be seen
on stage and screen. No one ever forgets her lightning change.

Read from GRIMM'S TALES .......................    Vol. 17, pp. 98-104

Jun 19: Holinshed's OUR ENGLISH DOGS

Freaks of the Dog Fad in England

A writer of Elizabethan times said that no other country had as
many dogs as England. Once Henry VII ordered all mastiffs
to be hung because they "durst presume to fight against the
lion," England's regal beast.

Read: Holinshed's OUR ENGLISH DOGS .......   Vol. 35, pp. 350-356


No Salt for These Birds

Galapagos Islands are the home of fearless birds, to which horses,
cows, and men are only roosting places. Darwin saw the South
Pacific when few travelers knew that wonderland.

Read from Darwin's VOYAGE OF THE BEAGLE ....   Vol. 29, pp. 403-413

Jun 21: Ruskin's SESAME

Would You Converse with Royalty?

Why gossip with lesser persons when you might be talking to
queens and kings? Just how we may get to talk to queens
and kings, Ruskin delightfully points out and escorts us to the
very doors of the audience chamber.

Read from Ruskin's SESAME ..................   Vol. 28, pp. 99-110

Jun 22: Pliny's LETTERS

Pliny Tells Ghost Stories

Pliny, who lived in the first century after Christ, tells of a ghost
who dragged his jangling chains through a house in Athens and
so terrified the inmates that they fled panic-stricken. But the
ghost met his equal.

Read from Pliny's LETTERS ....................  Vol. 9, pp. 311-314


Greek Scholar at Three

John Stuart Mill—one of the greatest intellects in England—tells
how his father educated him. At the early age of three years
he began the study of Greek, and at twelve started writing a
book of his own .

Read from Mill's AUTOBIOGRAPHY .............   Vol. 25, pp. 9-20


Had No Right Hand

A handsome young man was seen to eat only with his left hand,
which was contrary to the customs of Arabia. The youth, when
urged, told why he used only his left hand, and revealed a
story of love and adventure and the lover's need for gold—all
happening in ancient Cairo.

Read from THE THOUSAND AND ONE NIGHTS ....  Vol. 16, pp. 120-133


Advice to Virgins from a Wise Man

"Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today, to-morrow will be
dying? "Herrick was only a humble country minister with a
wealth of wisdom and a keen appreciation of life, which he
expressed in lyrics of wonderful beauty and melody.

Read: HERRICK'S POEMS ..................   Vol. 40, pp. 334-340


In the Lair of the Green-Eyed Monster

At the bottom of the ocean was the home of the monster who
had desolated the king's halls. Beowulf, bravest of warriors,
descended beneath the waves to fight the beast. The king's
men, waiting above, saw the waves become colored with blood.
Hero or monster—who had won?

Read from BEOWULF ............................   Vol. 49, pp. 45-50


Do You Take Poison Daily?

There is a human trait most poisonous to a man's blood. Man
seeks to avoid it because he knows that it lies like a curse upon
him. Just what is the poisonous human failing? Who are most
subject to it? Bacon tells you in one of his best essays.

Read from BACON'S ESSAYS .....................   Vol. 3, pp. 22-26


Pages from the Pampas Book of Etiquette

A very definite etiquette is followed by a stranger on the vast
plains of South America. "Ave Maria" is the common salutation.
If the stranger is on horseback, he does not alight until
invited to do so by his host. Once in the house, the stranger must
converse a while before asking shelter for the night.

Read from Darwin's VOYAGE OF THE BEAGLE ......  Vol. 29, pp. 51-60

Jun 29: Shakespeare's MACBETH

"Is That a Dagger I See Before Me?"

Macbeth, spurred on by the ambitious and crafty Lady Macbeth,
committed murder to secure the crown of Scotland. But he
paid dearly for his gain. Ghostly guests appeared at his banquet
and threatened him with dire threats.

Read from Shakespeare's MACBETH ..........   Vol. 46, pp. 357-365

Jun 30: Mill's ON LIBERTY

Rather King Than Majority

"Democracy" has not always been the choice of oppressed people.
The tyranny of the majority is a recognized evil as harmful as the
misrule of a king. And rather than exchange a lesser evil for a
greater, a rule by king has often been preferred to a republic.

Read: Mill's ON LIBERTY .....................    Vol. 25, pp. 195-203