Desertisland

What's on Your Desert Island Bookshelf?

If you were marooned on a desert island and could only bring a handful of books with you--let's say five--which ones would you pick? Who better to ask than Stephen Greenblatt, the father of the New Historicist movement in literary theory and the bestselling author of Will in the World, a biography of Shakespeare.

"Why just five?" Greenblatt protested, as any big thinker would. Then Greenblatt added that he would just bring an iPad with hundreds of books on it (although how many could he possibly read, we countered, before his 10-hour battery would be spent?).

And so, if constrained to only five, this is what Greenblatt would bring. Tell us your picks in the comments below.


 1. Shakespeare
(Not much of a surprise here)
2. Montaigne
"Probably my favorite writer in the world"

3. Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
"I adore the book and I think that it would sustain reading and rereading."

4. The King James Bible
"For the language of the King James Bible and the incredible beauty of that early 17th century language."

5. Lucretius' On The Nature of Things
"A magnificent poem," and the subject of Greenblatt's latest book, The Swerve. "I think it would actually give you some recurrent consolation if you’re trapped on a desert island, god forbid, for a long time."

Here is Greenblatt describing the fundamental significance of On The Nature of Things:


Photo Credit: Zlatko Guzmic/Shutterstock.com

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