Green Wizards Canon on Books

So, it's been a month, and we have a great list of Newberry and Caldicott books. Anybody been thinking about a Green Wizard canon? According to JMG:

A canon, in this sense of the word, is a collection of works by dead people that everyone reads, discusses, and thinks about in the course of their schooling. There are three characteristics of a canon that deserve attention here. First, it’s always changing, as each generation wrestles with the legacies of the past and decides which works by the recently dead should go into the canon, which neglected works by older authors should be added to it, and which existing works in the canon don’t deserve their status and can be dropped with advantage.

"Works by dead people" immediately eliminates a number of titles I had in mind. Nothing says it has to be fiction. Which books should be in the GW Canon.?

David Trammel's picture

While there is a good argument that "We" (aka modern humans) could benefit from a general canon, I would suspect that much like any other focused discipline, a Green Wizard Canon, would have one general canon, and then a subset of smaller canons that relate to each Circle.

If the bounds of the canon are set at 500 books over the course of five years, or two books per week with two weeks off each year, average book length, say, 400 pages, totalling about 300,000 words per week, there would be time to cover topics of natural science; human industry; philosophy; child care and social dynamics; household level sanitation, sick nursing, health and medicine; love-and-money; recent history; ancient history; music; mathematics, rhetoric, logic, experimental science; comparative religion; physics and metaphysics. For starters, just off the top of my head and not arranged by topic, I would include:

Austen: Pride & Prejudice, Emma
Huan K'uan: Discourses on Iron and Salt
F. H. King: Farmers of Forty Centuries
Euclid: Geometry
Bach: Brandenberg Concertos
A traditional orchestral composition of Xi music (don’t know its name, heard it on the internet)
Odetta: Midnight Special
Brubeck: Take Five (a jazz piece by a white man using ancient African polyrhythms, with a Turkish time signature from an improvisational tradition thousands of years old)
Carl Jung: Introduction to the Wilhelm edition of the I Ching
Hegel: Introduction to the Phenomenology
Thompson: Lark Rise to Candleford
Maxwell’s Equations
Lorentz’s Transformations
Plato: Meno
Lucretius: On the Nature of Things
Sojourner Truth: Ain’t I A Woman?
Gilman: The Yellow Wallpaper, Herland
Shelley: Frankenstein
Shelley: Ode to the West Wind
Byron: She Walks in Beauty
Eliott: Middlemarch
Extracts from the Christian Bible, the Koran, Jewish scripture, Norse, Babylonian, and Assyrian law
The original account of the discovery of the source of a cholera outbreak in London by statistical analysis, halted by removing the pump handle from a contaminated water source.
Something on celestial navigation, don’t know a classic source

Ken's picture

You need the classic H.O. No. 9 - AMERICAN PRACTICAL NAVIGATOR by Nathaniel Bowditch.

However, as JMG points out technologies come in "suites" and if you want to navigate across oceans safely you are going to need accurate chronometers that can tolerate the environment at sea while remaining accurate, a decent sextant, and most importantly, you will need updated charts to locate yourself upon with all of the above. An accurate marine chronometer wasn't developed until the 1750's. Prior to that it was find your latitude, dead reckoning and luck.

I've learned that 2018 is the 200th anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein, and readers around the world will be celebrating with live, complete readings of the book (all-day reading, about nine hours, of the full text), chapter readings, panels, exhibits, film screenings... Frankenweek is October 24-31, 2018, but local events will be going on during the fall. I heard about this from a teacher at our local nursing college. The college includes humanities classes as well as technical classes, and the speaker at a recent library event was telling us that the college uses Frankenstein in a class on empathy. Which I thought was too cool! Check out the map of Frankenread events.

Also going on right now, The Great American Read. PBS, our public broadcasting network, and American libraries have compiled a list of America's top 100 novels. (The list is not limited to Great Literature, just best-loved.) Many of the books are contemporary and the authors are still living, so not suitable--yet--for GW canon.


And the winners were:

Hopefully Diana Gabaldon won't make canon for a long, long time, but GWs might enjoy her work.

I had F. H. King: Farmers of Forty Centuries and Thompson: Lark Rise to Candleford on my list, though Lark Rise is not Great Lit by any means. It is a revealing look at a rural culture in transition. I also appreciated Gilman: The Yellow Wallpaper, Herland

Harlan Ellison left us this week, so we could put A Boy and His Dog on the list.He was 84. Wendell Berry is the same age, maybe older, so I have a list of his books in reserve:He wrote a lot of rural fiction, which I have not read, but I can recommend his non-fiction.

The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture

Sex, Economy, Freedom, and Community: Eigjht Essays

Home Economics

The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry.

What are People For?

I find myself wanting list a bunch of classics which I have not read. This is kinda embarrassing, so I expect the rest of this year will be spent catching up. Among books that I have read:

Montgomery, Lucy Maude: Anne of Green Gables (and the rest of the Avonlea set)

Porter, Eleanor H.: Pollyanna

Elliot, George: Silas Marner

Dickens, Charles: A Christmas Carol (and everything else!)

Verne, Jules: Around the World in 80 Days

Wyss, Johann David: The Swiss Family Robinson

White, T.H.: The Once and Future King

Tolkien, J.R.R: The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings

LeGuin, Ursula K: The Earthsea Trilogy, Left Hand of Darkness, The Dispossessed

Alcott, Louisa May: Little Women, Little Men

Knight, Eric: Lassie Come-Home

Smith Dodi: 101 Dalmatians

Remarque, Erich Maria: All Quiet on the Western Front

Conrad, Joseph: Heart of Darkness (I thought it stunk, but a lot of people swear by it.)

Camus, Albert: The Plague

Leopold, Aldo: A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There

Bradbury, Ray: Something Wicked This Way Comes

Stegner, Wallace: Angle of Repose

Deloria, Jr, Vine: God is Red: A Native View of Religion

Deloria, Jr, Vine: Custer Died for Your Sins

Campbell, Joseph: The Power of Myth

Campbell, Joseph: The Hero with a Thousand Faces

Shange, Ntozake: for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf

Ellison, Ralph: The Invisible Man

Dinesen, Isak: Out of Africa

Markham, Beryl: West with the Night

The Frontiers of Language and Nationality in Europe,
by Leon Dominian

Not exactly canonical, but a fascinating look at the European continent from the viewpoint of a vanished era. Landscapes, languages, and lip-licking speculation on how to cut up continents for profit all combined. Chockful of statistics, 100-year-old photographs and British-infused imperial opinions. A couple of quotations that out-Faust old Faust himself:

!) "But world relation is also determined by a region’s natural resources. Notwithstanding its undeveloped state, Asia Minor is known to have been abundantly endowed with all the primary products required by modern man’s complex life. The valleys connecting its coast line with the inland ranges are exceedingly fertile. This is particularly true of its western and northern area. The high plateau of the interior needs only to be irrigated in order to become a vast granary. Its mineral wealth is so abundant and varied that it may be asserted that no other area of the same dimensions can be compared to it. Its flora is extremely diversified. Its forest belts are still considerable, despite a lack of legislation for insuring their conservation and rational exploitation. The slopes facing its three seas from the upper coniferous belts to the lower olive tree zone, support a great variety of economic species.

We have here all the elements which satisfy man’s natural desire for space after he has reached a given stage of development. This desire is imposed by economic requirements which impel activity in fields that must be kept expanding. The zones must be hence regarded as spheres of economical rather than political influence. They indicate natural foresight on the part of powerful political agglomerations preparing the way for future industrial and commercial advantages. At bottom it is an expression of man’s growing ability to shape his destinies according to his requirements and free himself from the limitations imposed by frontiers. The economic phase of Asia Minor’s geography thus contributes its full share in the determination of these spheres of foreign interests."

2) "The present world relations of Turkey may be summarized by the statement that the country lies squarely in the path of both Teutonic and Slavic advance. A natural course of expansion is leading Germany to the southeast across the Balkan peninsula into Turkey. The extension of frontiers required by Russia likewise impels Slavic conquest of Turkey. Overpopulation in the one case and the need of access to ice-free waters in the other make the contest inevitable. The Teuton is answering the call of the land, the Slav that of climate. In both the problem is mainly economic. At bottom it is the modern phase of the Homeric struggle idealized in the Iliad.

The dismemberment of Turkey into European colonies is the goal steadily held in view since the loss of the Holy Land to Christendom. It will be the last chapter in the long history of Europe’s commercial conquest of western Asia. Three causes militate in favor of an eventual partition. The country is rich in natural resources. It is held by a people whose incompetence to convert nature’s gifts into use or profit is historically patent. It also happens to occupy a commanding situation with reference to the trade of Europe with Asia and Africa. These three points are fundamental in the solution of the Turkish problem."

Just thought I would add to your list:

Ursula LeGuin: Always Coming Home, Voices, Powers, Gifts

The first one is a must for Green Wizards, I think and while the last three are juvinal fiction, they are still good for GW's.

Blueberry's picture

Down load and print, my copy is like 45+ years old.

David Trammel's picture

"If the bounds of the canon are set at 500 books over the course of five years, or two books per week with two weeks off each year, average book length, say, 400 pages, totalling about 300,000 words per week"

That's some light reading there, lol. I'm lucky to have time to read one book a month with the proper intensity that a book of a canon should be read with.

Even though I logged in when I came into the forums, the system is making me log in a second time before I can post anything. Also I edited my long list of titles here in this thread rather than start another post--that was on August 25--and the system did not save it. Somebody was saying that something they posted on the 28th disappeared.

David Trammel's picture

I haven't seen anything like posts going completely missing except when I accidentally hit back. I have had it occasionally ask me for another log in. How are you accessing the site, PC or phone?

For longer posts or edits, I tend to always copy the entire post (control + A, then control + C) before I hit edit.

We have a major software update that I haven't had time to do, which should give us the Search function, but I won't be able to get to it until next month, sorry.

I went to my original post, hit edit, added a date, and two more authors. Hit save. Not there.

David Trammel's picture

When you hit save, try using your mouse to "open link in new tab". If it doesn't update, then you will still have an open page with the original info.

I'm bad about writing long detailed posts and have lost one or two when the system doesn't remember my edits.