Have you read The Iliad? The Kama Sutra? The Bible? Have you read the Qur’an? The Communist Manifesto? Catcher in the Rye? Origin of the Species? If This is a Man?
If you haven’t, you’ll know at least that these are texts that are almost generally known in the educated English speaking world as important works in history, valued for the moral, linguistic, literary, scientific or social import.
But why are they important? Taylor believes they changed the world. That might seem like a sweeping statement, but he does qualify by saying that they are books that changed his world. And yet also, “Often they have enhanced the richness of human experience; sometimes, their civilizing effect, or otherwise, depends on the views one holds.”
In succinct, simply written chapter, Taylor discusses 50 books in such a way that if you never got round to them – in spite of your best intentions – you’ll know, at least, why they remain timeless.
- This review first appeared in the Cape Times in November 2014.