NEW Slow Reading Pathway: “The Lusiads” by Luis Vaz de Camoes – The Great Books of Iberia Series
“The singer of the Western civilization”~ Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra on Cameos and “The Lusaids”
Recommended edition: The Oxford Classics Edition
Start date: Tuesday April 11, 2023
Day/Time: Tuesdays, 3 pm EST/2 pm central/12 noon Pacific.
Meeting Frequency: Weekly
Session length: 1.5 hours
Instructors: Reynaldo Miranda and Miryam Bhujanda
Pathway Duration: 1 Quarter (April, May, June 2023)
The Design of the Pathway, “The Great Books of Iberia”
This program is designed to help participants to make the most of classic texts in the Iberian subset of the Western tradition, by slow reading and conversing.
Understanding happens through the practices of reading and thoughtful discussion, and by letting the authors speak for themselves. A short list of writers of interest, far from exhaustive, include:
- Miguel de Cervantes, Quixote, parts I and II
- Luis Vaz de Camoes, The Lusiads
- Miguel de Unamuno, The Tragic Sense of Life in Men and Nations
- Jose Ortega y Gasset, The Revolt of the Masses
- Ernest Hemingway, Death in the Afternoon (excerpt)
- George Santayana, The Last Puritan
Participants may begin at any point in the series.
Great books reading lists in American educational circles are very good lists and fairly reliable.
But they are doubly filtered through 1) American eyes, 2) Anglophone, especially British, eyes (as one would expect, these lists are partly situational [e.g. a German list is going to look a little different from an American one]); such that, the modern portions are mostly English, French, German, Russian, and a few other authors, and various Iberian, Italian, and Swiss authors and works that should be there are left off, Jewish and Islamic authors are almost ignored which is anachronistic, and the period from late antiquity to the Renaissance is very much neglected.
Those who are educated in the United States tend to have a relatively optimistic outlook on life.
This makes it difficult for many Americans to understand the outlook of much of Hispanic culture.
One cultural group (Americans) trying to figure out another (Hispanics) faces the impediment that many Spanish speaking writers are perceived somewhat as downers.
Works such as Unamuno’s The Tragic Sense of Life…might appear antithetical to our traditional optimism.
Why the Iberian Great Books?
Anyone with an interest in the great books, and the “best that is thought and said” will be interested in this pathway, since we are offering many authors who might otherwise be overlooked in Anglophone Great Books lists.
Moreover, those who might be interested in exploring the thought of the great Iberian writers, for the sake of reaching a deeper understanding and appreciation of their thought, will be interested in this pathway.
The Iberian contribution to the whole of our Western tradition/conversation, though often overlooked, is indispensable and of incalculable value.
Why the Lusiads, by Luis Vaz de Camoes?
In 1572 HRM Sebastian, King of Portugal, ordered the publication of The Lusiads by Luis Vaz de Cammoes (b.Lisbon 1524-d. Lisbon 1580). Ever since the Portuguese have considered this their national epic poem, and cornerstone of their literature.
It was quickly translated into Castilian, Italian, English, Dutch, French over and over again.
Modelled on Virgil’s Aeneid, and Homer’s epic poems, it is in ten cantos of 1,102 stanzas in decasyllabic verse in ottava rima, that tell of Vasco de Gamas’ voyage around the Cape of Good Hope to India(1497-99), at the beginning of the “Age of Discovery” and of European geo-political predominance during modernity.
Vasco de Gama was an ancestral relation of Cammoes. In 1580 HRM Philip II, King of Spain, granted him the honorific title of “Prince of the Poets of Spain.”
Voltaire called attention to Cammoes’ original contributions to the epic and classical traditions: For example, the introduction of doubt, contradiction, and questioning; the primacy of rhetoric over action, and the mediation of action by words to necessarily unresolved points which make for a dynamism and a metalanguage; the use of the golden section and proportion so that at the golden mean is the highpoint of the poem,the arrival of sons of Lusius in India, and the same reiterated in both halves, the death of Ines de Casto and Cupid’s efforts to unite the Portuguese and the nymphs.
More praise for The Lusiads:
“Cult and good, my only rival I fear” ~ Torquato Tasso
“Something of the charm of the Odyssey and the magnificence of the Aeneid” ~ Montesquieu
“sharp and ingenious” ~ Baltasar Gracian, and Lope de Vega
“Camoes by itself is worth entire literary works” ~ August Wilhelm Schlegel
“An admirable painter of nature” ~ Alexander von Humboldt
“A master” ~ Sir Richard Burton
Milton, Goethe, Voltaire were admirers who were influenced by him.
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