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Each month, a member of the Earlham community offers the top 40 books that have most influenced him/her, personally and professionally.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by
Here is a book as joyous and painful, as mysterious and memorable, as childhood itself. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings captures the longing of lonely children, the brute insult of bigotry, and the wonder of words that can make the world right. Maya Angelou's debut memoir is a modern American classic beloved worldwide. Sent by their mother to live with their devout, self-sufficient grandmother in a small Southern town, Maya and her brother, Bailey, endure the ache of abandonment and the prejudice of the local "powhitetrash." At eight years old and back at her mother's side in St. Louis, Maya is attacked by a man many times her age--and has to live with the consequences for a lifetime. Years later, in San Francisco, Maya learns that love for herself, the kindness of others, her own strong spirit, and the ideas of great authors ("I met and fell in love with William Shakespeare") will allow her to be free instead of imprisoned. Poetic and powerful, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings will touch hearts and change minds for as long as people read. "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings liberates the reader into life simply because Maya Angelou confronts her own life with such a moving wonder, such a luminous dignity."--James Baldwin
Publication Date: 2009
Imagination Is Reality by
Long unavailable, Imagination is Reality is the first comprehensive work to place archetypal psychology within a major tradition of modern thought, that of mythical thinking, and to recognize imagination as the primal force and basic reality of human existence. By drawing upon the writings of four twentieth-century thinkers (Jung, Hillman, Barfield, and Cassirer), Roberts Avens clarifies the post-Jungian direction of psychology as it moves toward poetic and polytheistic imagination. He then compares the radical achievements of this direction in resolving the "ego-question" with the methods and ideas of the East: Buddhism, Tantrism, Zen, and Vedanta. The author's grasp of understanding, easy familiarity with this subject, and startling insights together make this book both an introductory text and an advance into new territory.
Publication Date: 2003
Wholeness and the Implicate Order by
In this classic work David Bohm, writing clearly and without technical jargon, develops a theory of quantum physics which treats the totality of existence as an unbroken whole.
Publication Date: 1983
I and Thou by
Martin Buber's I and Thou has long been acclaimed as a classic. Many prominent writers have acknowledged its influence on their work; students of intellectual history consider it a landmark; and the generation born since World War II considers Buber as one of its prophets. The need for a new English translation has been felt for many years. The old version was marred by many inaccuracies and misunderstandings, and its recurrent use of the archaic "thou" was seriously misleading. Now Professor Walter Kaufmann, a distinguished writer and philosopher in his own right who was close to Buber, has retranslated the work at the request of Buber's family. He has added a wealth of informative footnotes to clarify obscurities and bring the reader closer to the original, and he has written a long "Prologue" that opens up new perspectives on the book and on Buber's thought. This volume should provide a new basis for all future discussions of Buber.
Publication Date: 1971
The Book of Promethea by
In writing Le Livre de Promethea Hélène Cixous set for herself the task of bridging the immeasurable distance between love and language. She describes a love between two women in its totality, experienced as both a physical presence and a sense of infinity. The result is a stunning example of Pecriture feminine that won kudos when published in France in 1983. Its translation into English by Betsy Wing will extend the influence of a writer already famous for her novels and contributions to feminist theory. In her introduction Betsy Wing notes the contemporary emphasis on "fictions of presence." Cixous, in The Book of Promethea, works to "repair the separation between fiction and presence, trying to chronicle a very-present love without destroying it in the writing."
Publication Date: 1991
Holy the Firm by
In 1975 Annie Dillard took up residence on an island in Puget Sound in a wooded room furnished with "one enormous window, one cat, one spider and one person." For the next two years she asked herself questions about time, reality, sacrifice death, and the will of God. In Holy the Firm she writes about a moth consumed in a candle flame, about a seven-year-old girl burned in an airplane accident, about a baptism on a cold beach. But behind the moving curtain of what she calls "the hard things -- rock mountain and salt sea," she sees, sometimes far off and sometimes as close by as a veil or air, the power play of holy fire. This is a profound book about the natural world -- both its beauty and its cruelty -- the Pulitzer Prize-winning Dillard knows so well.
Publication Date: 1998
Moon in a Dewdrop by
Eihei Dogen (1200-1253), among the first to transmit Zen Buddhism from China to Japan and founder of the important Soto School, was not only a profoundly influential and provocative Zen philosopher but also one of the most stimulating figures in Japanese letters.Kazuaki Tanahashi, collaborating with several other Zen authorities, has produced sensitive and accurate translations of Dogen's most important texts. Moon in a Dewdrop contains the key essays of the great master, as well as extensive background materials that will help Western readers to approach this significant work. There is also a selection of Dogen's poetry, most of which has not appeared in English translation before.Dogen's thought runs counter to conventional logic, employing paradoxical language and startling imagery. It illuminates such fundamental concerns as the nature of time, existence, life, death, the self, and what is beyond self.
Publication Date: 1995
The Brothers Karamazov by
In 1880 Dostoevsky completed The Brothers Karamazov, the literary effort for which he had been preparing all his life. Compelling, profound, complex, it is the story of a patricide and of the four sons who each had a motive for murder: Dmitry, the sensualist, Ivan, the intellectual; Alyosha, the mystic; and twisted, cunning Smerdyakov, the bastard child. Frequently lurid, nightmarish, always brilliant, the novel plunges the reader into a sordid love triangle, a pathological obsession, and a gripping courtroom drama. But throughout the whole, Dostoevsky searhes for the truth--about man, about life, about the existence of God. A terrifying answer to man's eternal questions, this monumental work remains the crowning achievement of perhaps the finest novelist of all time.
Publication Date: 1984
Meister Eckhart: The Essential Writings by
The Father of German Mysticism Meister Eckhart (1260-1328) was a German theologian, philosopher, professor, and mystic. In his distinguished career, he became a professor of theology at the University of Paris and took a leading pastoral and organizational role in the Dominican Order. Later in his life he was brought before the local Franciscan-led Inquisition and was tried as a heretic. In response Eckhart produced "The Defense" in which he famously defended his writings and refuted their heretical intent. This book collects his most important writings, including his many sermons, as well as his historic response to accusations of heresy.
Publication Date: 2009
The Upanishads by
Among the oldest of India’s spiritual texts, the Upanishads are records of intensive question-and-answer sessions given by illumined sages to their students – in ashrams, at family gatherings, in a royal court, and in the kingdom of Death. The sages share flashes of insight, extraordinary visions, the results of their investigation into consciousness itself. The Upanishads have puzzled and inspired wisdom seekers from Yeats to Schopenhauer. In this best-selling translation, Eknath Easwaran makes these challenging texts more accessible by selecting the passages most relevant to readers seeking timeless truths today. This book includes an overview of the cultural and historical setting, with chapter introductions, notes, and a Sanskrit glossary. But it is Easwaran’s understanding of the wisdom of the Upanishads that makes this edition truly outstanding. Each sage, each Upanishad, appeals in a different way to the reader’s head and heart. For Easwaran, the Upanishads are part of India’s precious legacy, not just to Hinduism but to humanity, and in that spirit they are offered here.
Publication Date: 2007
Four Quartets by
The last major verse written by Nobel laureate T. S. Eliot, considered by Eliot himself to be his finest work Four Quartets is a rich composition that expands the spiritual vision introduced in “The Waste Land.” Here, in four linked poems (“Burnt Norton,” “East Coker,” “The Dry Salvages,” and “Little Gidding”), spiritual, philosophical, and personal themes emerge through symbolic allusions and literary and religious references from both Eastern and Western thought. It is the culminating achievement by a man considered the greatest poet of the twentieth century and one of the seminal figures in the evolution of modernism.
Publication Date: 1968
Created to Praise by
The Victorian Jesuit Gerard Manley Hopkins found in religious discipline, and released in his poetry, the tremendous power at the heart of the human language. The two coinciding, and often conflicting, vocations of poetry and priesthood resulted in a tension explicitly documented in the verse. The spiritual struggle that began with the first line Hopkins wrote as a priest--"Thou mastering me/God!"-- culminates with the so-called "terrible sonnets," which represent a strange triumph over scruple and a bending of his domineering will. This study traces the connections between the poet's development of the concept of vocation, his grasp of the implications of sacrament, his interpretation of the function of particulars in nature, and, in an ironic balance of decorum and irregularity, his subtle appropriation of something resembling baroque aesthetics. Margaret Ellsberg's incisive analysis clearly illustrates the ways in which Hopkins called upon the vocabularies of his dual vocation to achieve a voice perfectly pitched at praise.
Publication Date: 1987
The Essays of Ralph Waldo Emerson by
Emerson, Alfred Kazin observes in his Introduction, was a great writer who turned the essay into a form all his own. His celebrated essays--the twelve published in Essays: First Series (1841) and eight in Essays: Second Series (1844)--are here presented for the first time in an authoritative one-volume edition, which incorporates all the changes and corrections Emerson made after their initial publication.
Publication Date: 1987
Narcissus and Goldmund by
Hesse's novel of two medieval men, one quietlynbsp;nbsp;content with his religion and monastic life, thenbsp;nbsp;other in fervent search of more worldly salvation.nbsp;nbsp;This conflict between flesh and spirit, betweennbsp;nbsp;emotional and contemplative man, was a life study fornbsp;nbsp;Hesse. It is a theme that transcends all time.nbsp;nbsp;The Hesse Phenomenon "has turned into a vogue,nbsp;nbsp;the vogue into a torrent. . .He has appealed bothnbsp;nbsp;to. . . an underground and to an establishment. .nbsp;nbsp;.and to the disenchanted young sharing his contemptnbsp;nbsp;for our industrialnbsp;nbsp;civilization."--The New York Times Book Review
Publication Date: 1984
Re-Visioning Psychology by
This groundbreaking classic explores the necessity of connections between our life and soul and developing the main lines of the soul-making process.
Publication Date: 1997
The Prophet by
Originally published in 1923, The Prophet continues to inspire millions worldwide with its timeless words of love and mystical longing. Writing with insight, hope, and a remarkable compassion for the human condition, Kahlil Gibran explores ideas of joy and sorrow, friendship, good and evil, pleasure, reason and passion, expressing humanity’s yearning for a Unity of Being, only achieved through love. Introduced and annotated throughout by world expert Suheil Bushrui, this revised and updated edition is a truly enlightening experience for anyone seeking solace and wisdom in the chaotic modern age.
Publication Date: 2013
Purity of Heart by
Crossing the boundaries of philosophy, theology, psychology, and literature, the Danish writer Soren Kierkegaard is regarded as one of the most significant and influential figures in contemporary thought. In Kierkegaard's view, faith is the most essential task of life. Faith is not a matter of dogmatic adherence, but rather of subjective passion. In Purity of Heart, Kierkegaard discusses different aspects of living, particularly the responsibility of single-minded spiritual seeking and ethical integrity, offering clues to the nature of the good while insisting that each reader must work this out for themselves.
Publication Date: 2008
The Bluest Eye by
The Bluest Eye,published in 1970, is the first novel written by Toni Morrison, winner of the 1993 Nobel Prize in Literature. It is the story of eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove--a black girl in an America whose love for its blond, blue-eyed children can devastate all others--who prays for her eyes to turn blue: so that she will be beautiful, so that people will look at her, so that her world will be different. This is the story of the nightmare at the heart of her yearning and the tragedy of its fulfillment.
Publication Date: 1993
Letters to a Young Poet by
Letters written over a period of several years on the vocation of writing by a poet whose greatest work was still to come.
Publication Date: 1986
Mystical Poems of Rumi by
My verse resembles the bread of Egypt—night passes over it, and you cannot eat it any more. Devour it the moment it is fresh, before the dust settles upon it. Its place is the warm climate of the heart; in this world it dies of cold. Like a fish it quivered for an instant on dry land, another moment and you see it is cold. Even if you eat it imagining it is fresh, it is necessary to conjure up many images. What you drink is really your own imagination; it is no old tale, my good man. Jalal al-Din Rumi (1207–73), legendary Persian Muslim poet, theologian, and mystic, wrote poems acclaimed through the centuries for their powerful spiritual images and provocative content, which often described Rumi’s love for God in romantic or erotic terms. His vast body of work includes more than three thousand lyrics and odes. This volume includes four hundred poems selected by renowned Rumi scholar A. J. Arberry, who provides here one of the most comprehensive and adept English translations of this enigmatic genius. Mystical Poems is the definitive resource for anyone seeking an introduction to or an enriched understanding of one of the world’s greatest poets. “Rumi is one of the world’s greatest lyrical poets in any language—as well as probably the most accessible and approachable representative of Islamic civilization for Western students.”—James W. Morris, Oberlin College
Publication Date: 2009
The Seven Storey Mountain by
A modern-day Confessions of Saint Augustine, The Seven Storey Mountain is one of the most influential religious works of the twentieth century. This edition contains an introduction by Merton's editor, Robert Giroux, and a note to the reader by biographer William H. Shannon. It tells of the growing restlessness of a brilliant and passionate young man whose search for peace and faith leads him, at the age of twenty-six, to take vows in one of the most demanding Catholic orders--the Trappist monks. At the Abbey of Gethsemani, "the four walls of my new freedom," Thomas Merton struggles to withdraw from the world, but only after he has fully immersed himself in it. The Seven Storey Mountain has been a favorite of readers ranging from Graham Greene to Claire Booth Luce, Eldridge Cleaver, and Frank McCourt. Since its original publication this timeless spiritual tome has been published in over twenty languages and has touched millions of lives.
Publication Date: 1999
The Way of Zen by
The Way of Zenbegins as a succinct guide through the histories of Buddhism and Taoism leading up to the development of Zen Buddhism, which drew deeply from both traditions.  It then goes on to paint a broad but insightful picture of Zen as it was and is practiced, both as a religion and as an element of diverse East Asian arts and disciplines.  Watts's narrative clears away the mystery while enhancing the mystique of Zen. Since the first publication of this book in 1957, Zen Buddhism has become firmly established in the West.  As Zen has taken root in Western soil, it has incorporated much of the attitude and approach set forth by Watts inThe Way of Zen, which remains one of the most important introductory books in Western Zen. "No one has given us such a concise . . . introduction to the whole history of this Far Eastern development of Buddhist thought as Alan Watts, in the present, highly readable work."  --Joseph Campbell
Publication Date: 1989
Gravity and Grace by
Gravity and Grace was the first ever publication by the remarkable thinker and activist, Simone Weil. In it Gustave Thibon, the farmer to whom she had entrusted her notebooks before her untimely death, compiled in one remarkable volume a compendium of her writings that have become a source of spiritual guidance and wisdom for countless individuals. On the fiftieth anniversary of the first English edition - by Routledge & Kegan Paul in 1952 - this Routledge Classics edition offers English readers the complete text of this landmark work for the first time ever, by incorporating a specially commissioned translation of the controversial chapter on Israel. Also previously untranslated is Gustave Thibon's postscript of 1990, which reminds us how privileged we are to be able to read a work which offers each reader such 'light for the spirit and nourishment for the soul'. This is a book that no one with a serious interest in the spiritual life can afford to be without.
Publication Date: 2002
Poems of Wordsworth by
William Wordsworth (1771-1850) is the foremost of the English Romantic poets. He was much influenced by the events of the French Revolution in his youth, and he deliberately broke away from the artificial diction of the Augustan and neo-classical tradition of the eighteenth century. He sought to write in the language of ordinary men and women, of ordinary thoughts, sights and sounds, and his early poetry represents this fresh approach to his art.Wordsworth spent most of his adult life in the Lake District with his sister Dorothy and his wife Mary, by whom he had four children. His remarkable autobiographical poem 'The Prelude' was completed in 1805, but was not published until after his death, and it is included in this full edition of Wordsworth's poetry.
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