By Alex Beam
In A nice proposal on the Time Alex Beam explores the good Books mania, in an wonderful and surprisingly poignant portrait of yankee pop culture at the threshold of the tv age. Populated with memorable characters, A nice thought on the Time will depart readers asking themselves: Have I learn LucretiusвЂ™s De Rerum Natura in recent years? If no longer, why not?
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Extra info for A Great Idea at the Time: The Rise, Fall, and Curious Afterlife of the Great Books
Facts are the enemy, Hutchins railed, in several highly publicized university speeches of the early 1930s. “Facts are the core of an anti-intellectual curriculum. . Facts do not solve problems. . ” The university’s scientists and social scientists had no doubt who the “gadgeteers and data collectors” were. The enemy, according to Hutchins, was them. When he published his educational summa, The Higher Learning in America, in 1936, Hutchins put all his cards on the table. ” “The aim of higher education is wisdom,” Hutchins wrote.
Possibly the pride of R. M. Hutchins shielded us. For him the U. of C. didn’t have to compete with the Ivy League, it was obviously superior. It never entered our minds that we had lost anything in being deprived of Eastern advantages. So we came armored in self-confidence, and came to conquer. Ridiculous boys. Bellow was more cool-eyed on the subject of Adler: I am grateful also to certain academics whose classrooms anticipated the Theater of the Absurd. Mortimer Adler had much to tell us about Aristotle’s Ethics, but I had only to look at him, even as an undergraduate, to see that he had nothing useful to offer on the conduct of life.
Carnegie viewed the downtown Great Books classes as “experimental,” and they lasted for only two academic years, 1926–1927 and 1927–1928. Within just a few years, Adler, Buchanan, and McKeon would be reunited at the University of Chicago. 1586484873_beam 8/22/08 9:26 AM Page 23 TWO THE ODD COUPLE HERE IS A LOVELY, revealing story of how Mortimer Adler, the son of a Washington Heights jewelry salesman, first met Robert Maynard Hutchins, the refined child of a high-minded Presbyterian clergyman.
A Great Idea at the Time: The Rise, Fall, and Curious Afterlife of the Great Books by Alex Beam