Great BooksCommentary by Pete du Pont
February 12, 1997
Host intro: Pete du Pont of the National Center for Policy Analysis has a book review today, but it's not about politics or economics or government. It's a book about books.
In fact, it's called Great Books, and it's by the film critic of New York magazine, David Denby. At age 48, Denby decided to go back to his alma mater, Columbia, and enroll in its great books course. That's right, the foundation of western civilization that's been battered for a generation by multiculturalists, feminists, leftists, ethnic radicals and cranks of every stripe. The writings of dead white men that empower the powerful and destroy the disenfranchised. The books that universities with less courage have dumped from the reading list.
Well guess what? Denby found faculty members who defended the canon and taught it with love. He found 18- and 19-year-old students looking for big answers to big questions who took to Homer and Shakespeare, the Bible and Nietschze, like ducks to water. He rediscovered sheer pleasure: being swept away by the Odyssey, amused by the ribaldry of The Decameron, or surprised and delighted, as a secular Jew, with Jesus in the gospels. And he was struck time and again by the power of great writing to touch real life, whether tying Thomas Hobbes to getting mugged in New York or seeing links between King Lear and his own relationship with his irascible, dying mother.
Great Booksm is one, and it ought to be required reading for every college administrator.
Well, those are my ideas. And at the NCPA, we know ideas - and great books - can change the world. I'm Pete du Pont, and I'll see you tomorrow.
Host outro: Friday, Pete du Pont will tell us what happens when the regulators run amok in Washington.