Christian Guides to the Classics

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The title of this series pretty much says it all but I'll "unpack" it just a bit so you'll have a proper appreciation for the excellent content of these little books. First of all, they are "guides" in the truest sense of the word; providing summary information, chapter-by-chapter commentary, explanation of literary allusions and devices, and reflection/discussion questions. Incorporating published literary criticism of the work as well as listing resources for further study rounds out the "guide" experience. Succinct yet thorough, comprehensive yet concise; using these guides alongside your reading will give you an in-depth understanding about the author, times, book, and its significance.

Secondly, they are Christian. Exploring not only the author's Christianity but also the literary selection's worldview, this is some of the most useful and insightful commentary I've seen. Professor Ryken (English professor at Wheaton College for over 40 years) looks first at the (book's) author and his faith; examining the religious context, evidences of a personal religion and demonstrations of religious beliefs in the book. But then, continually, throughout the chapter-by-chapter (or scene-by-scene) coverage, the worldview being presented is pondered, delineated, and becomes the basis for reflection and discussion questions. For instance, in Macbeth, the student is asked "What details in this scene contribute to the Christian world of the play?"

Lastly, these are guides to the classics. The author starts by defining classics and explaining why they matter as part of the short introductory material that is consistent in each guide. He notes: "works of literature that demand a lot from us will always yield more than works that demand little of us." It's obvious as he guides the student through both the content and the literariness of these works that he expects the student to work a bit but he's there to guide, point in the right direction, and provide important pieces of the puzzle at just the right moment. Unlike some guides that provide vocabulary and content exercises as part of the study, these do not. Although reflection/discussion questions are plentiful, they're designed to facilitate contemplation rather than easy answer reports. Accordingly, there are no answer keys.

On the one hand, these guides may seem a light touch but that would be a faulty impression. There's very solid, intense content that will delight a serious, thoughtful, Christian student. ~ Janice

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Homers The Odyssey (Christian Guides to the Classics) Item #: 056099
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Hawthornes Scarlet Letter (Christian Guides to the Classics) Item #: 056098
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Devotional Poetry of Donne, Herbert, and Milton (Christian Guide to the Classics) Item #: 044478
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Dickens Great Expectations (Christian Guides to the Classics) Item #: 056097
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Bunyans The Pilgrims Progress (Christian Guides to the Classics) Item #: 056096
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Miltons Paradise Lost (Christian Guides to the Classics) Item #: 056100
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Augustines Confessions (Christian Guide to the Classics) Item #: 063008
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Shakespeares Hamlet (Christian Guide to the Classics) Item #: 044483
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Shakespeares Macbeth (Christian Guides to the Classics) Item #: 056101
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