FIFTEEN MINUTES A DAY
NOVEMBER READING GUIDE
(Please proceed to the “Harvard Classics” under the section “Categories” on a daily basis)
When biting Boreas, fell and dour,
Sharp shivers thro’ the leafless bow’r;
When Phoebus gies a short-liv’d glow’r,
Far south the lift,
Dim-dark’ning thro’ the flaky show’r,
Or whirling drift.
BURNS (Vol. 6, p. 248)
1. Last Strokes of Shakespeare’s Pen
Monsters of the earth, weird creatures of the air, magic romance,
and shipwreck are mingled by a master hand in his thrilling
drama. The fanciful, enchanting “Tempest” is the last work
of the great bard of Stratford.
(“The Tempest” performed at Queen Elizabeth’s court, Nov. 1, 1611.)
Read from Shakespeare’s THE TEMPEST Vol. 46, pp. 397-410
2. Journey Through a Hot Country
Dante recorded the awful scenes of a journey through the pits
of the underworld, and wrote in such a vivid, realistic way that
men tremble at the terrors depicted.
Read from Dante’s DIVINE COMEDY Vol. 20, pp. 13-20
3. Letters to an Emperor
Pliny sought the advice of the Emperor Trajan for dealing with
the Christians who were alarmingly on the increase. He casually
relates how he had tortured two Christians.
Read from Pliny’s LETTERS Vol. 9, pp. 404-406
4. Gold or Glory?
Polyeucte, an Armenian noble, wanted to become a Christian. If
he were baptized, he would have to give up his high position,
his wealth and his pagan wife. Was the heavenly crown worth
Read from Corneille’s POLYEUCTE Vol. 26, pp. 87-97
5. Costly Opinion on Divorce
A divorce always means trouble for some one. So with Sir
Thomas More when he refused to agree with King Henry over
the king’s separation. More was made to pay one of the highest
prices ever paid for a difference of opinion.
Read from Roper’s LIFE OF SIR THOMAS MORE Vol. 36, pp. 89-99
6. A Genius Needs Few Tools
T w o sticks, a table, and a pail were the commonplace implements
used by Michael Faraday to demonstrate great scientific truths.
(Faraday sends “Experimental Researches” to Royal Society, Nov. 6, 1845.)
Read: Faraday’s FORCE OF GRAVITATION Vol. 30, pp. 13-21
7. The Voice from a Stone-Dead City
Suddenly all the sinful city’s inhabitants were turned to stone.
When a beautiful woman from Bagdad came to the dead city,
night overtook her there. Sleeping in the palace, she was awakened
by a man’s voice calling.
Read from THE THOUSAND AND ONE NIGHTS Vol. 16, pp. 100-107
8. Blind But Unconquered
Milton’s indomitable courage kept h im at his w o r k even after he
lost his sight. Blind, he dictated a sequel to his “Paradise Lost,”
which he called “Paradise Regained.”
(]ohn Milton died Nov. 8, 1674.)
Read from Milton’s PARADISE REGAINED Vol. 4, pp. 359-369
9. Once War Songs, N o w Pious Prayers
The Psalms have been an inspiration to men in many ages. They
have become so associated with the peaceful spirit of Christianity
that we forget some of them were once war songs and songs of
Read from THE PSALMS Vol. 44, pp. 318-327
10. A Poet Who Piped for His Supper
Goldsmith traveled through Belgium, France, and Italy, winning
his daily bread by playing at farmhouses. He wrote the
most brilliant comedy, the best novel, and the finest poem of
(Oliver Goldsmith born Nov. 10, 1728.)
Read: Goldsmith’s THE DESERTED VILLACE Vol. 41, pp. 509-520
11. America’s Doughboy Glorified
The youth of America—typified in the doughboy of the past
war—was gloriously portrayed by W a l t Whitman. He also sang
of the vast plains and the beauty of America.
Read: WHITMAN’S POEMS Vol. 42, pp. 1402-1412
12. Story of t h e First Dresses
Milton’s version tells how the Serpent induced Eve to eat the
forbidden fruit. Eve offered it to Adam. Then they became
conscious for the first time that they were not clothed.
(John Milton married second wife, Nov. 12, 1656.)
Read from Milton’s PARADISE LOST Vol. 4, pp. 278-290
13. When Carthage Was Monte Carlo
Carthage was the playground of the ancient world. In that city
of many sins, Augustine was a leader of the revels. His conversion
to Christianity amazed those who knew him.
(St. Augustine born Nov. 13, 354.)
Read from the CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE Vol. 7, pp. 31-38
14. He Worried About It
We wonder if the man who worried about the “scientifical” prediction
that “The sun’s heat will give out in ten million years
more,” had read Lyell on the gradual changes in the earth’s
(Sir Charles Lyell born Nov. 14, 1797.)
Read: Lyell’s UNIFORMITY OF CHANGE Vol. 38, pp. 398-405
15. Food Profiteers 300 Years Ago
Food profiteering was as active in plague-stricken Milan 300 years
ago as in modern times. Shops were stormed for food. Read how
the Council strove heroically to fix fair rates.
(Sale of corn and flour regulated in Milan, Nov. 75, 7629.)
Read from Manzoni’s I PROMESSI SPOSI Vol. 2i, pp. 450-460
16. Just Before the Gold Rush
When the glorious Western coast was only partly settled, Dana
visited the Presidios. He saw frontier life at a time when Spanish
splendor still gilded California.
Read from Two YEARS BEFORE THE MAST Vol. 23, pp. 164-168
17. At Thirty Scott Began to Write
Are you curious about famous people, their lives, habits, personalities?
Carlyle discusses the intimate life of his illustrious countryman,
and reveals Scott, the man, and Scott, the genius who
entertained Christendom with his stories.
(Scott writes dedication of “Ivanhoe,” Nov. 17, 1817.)
Read: Carlyle’s SIR WALTER SCOTT Vol. 25, pp. 410-420
18. Apple or Son the Arrow’s Mark
The arrow shot from his bow with a twang and whizzed through
the air. Tell covered his eyes, fearing to see where the arrow hit.
T h e n the shout of triumph, a shout of the people and not of the
tyrant—but the end was not yet.
(William Tell incident, legendary date, Nov. 18, 1307.)
Read from Schiller’s WILHELM TELL Vol. 26, pp. 441-449
19. No Man Knows His Resting Place
A barge with black sails bearing three black robed queens with
crowns of gold carried away the dying K i n g Arthur. Will they
bring him back and fulfill Merlin’s prophecy?
(Queen Victoria appointed Tennyson poet laureate, Nov. 19, 1850.)
Read: Tennyson’s MORTE D’ARTHUR Vol. 42, pp. 986-992
20. Old Stories Ever N ew
When the cold winds howled about the thatched huts of the
German peasant, the mother drew her children to her side and
told them stories. Collected and retold by the Grimm brothers,
these stories have perennial charm.
Read from GRIMM’S FAIRY TALES Vol. 17, pp. 90-98
21. Bargains in Wives
The beautiful daughters of the Circassians were in demand for
the seraglios of the Turkish Sultan. Voltaire tells how these
beauties were protected from smallpox centuries before modern
(Voltaire ill with smallpox, Nov., 1723.)
Read from Voltaire’s LETTERS Vol. 34, pp. 93-97
22. How a Queen Died for Love
Deserted by her lover, Queen D i d o applied to her heart the only
balm that could ease her pain.
Read from Virgil’s JENEID Vol. 13, pp. 167-177
23. Less Than Star Dust
According to Pascal, a man is not even as significant as a speck
of star dust in the universe. Pascal’s thoughts on the subject are
startling to the modern reader, and they furnish rich food for
(Pascal begins writing his “Thoughts,” Nov. 23, 1654.)
Read from PASCAL’S THOUGHTS Vol. 48, pp. 26-36
24. The Book that Upset Tennessee
The signal for the beginning of a great controversy, still raging,
was the publication of Darwin’s “Origin of Species.” This was
the first complete statement of the evolution theory, which had
been privately advanced but never publicly taught. A new epoch
in science dates from this great work.
(“Origin of Species” published Nov. 24, 1859.)
Read from Darwin’s ORIGIN OF SPECIES Vol. I I , pp. 23-30
25. Cupid as a Shoemaker
We are indebted to Thomas Dekker for one of the most humorous
characters in all Elizabethan literature; namely, Simon Eyre, an
old shoemaker whose affairs became hilariously involved with
those of the gentry.
Read from Dekker’s THE SHOEMAKER’S HOLIDAY Vol. 47, pp. 469-483
26. Shakespeare Should Be Heard
Charles Lamb, favorite essayist, thought that no stage could do
justice to Shakespeare’s tragedies. He advocated reading the
plays, and with the imagination costuming the players and building
the gorgeous scenery in a way equaled by no scene painter
Read: Lamb ON THE TRAGEDIES or SHAKSPF.RE Vol. 27, pp. 299-310
27. What Land is This?
In wondrous Utopia pearls and precious stones were used as
playthings for little children. Gold rings and bracelets were only
worn by outcasts, while great golden chains shackled criminals
and felons. When ambassadors from foreign lands came in fine
raiment, the Utopians treated the plainest dressed as the greatest;
the others seemed to them like children.
Read from Sir Thomas More’s UTOPIA Vol. 36, pp. 191-204
28. Poems Made from Visions
“To see a world in a grain of sand, and a heaven in a wild flower—”
Such was the exaltation of the mysticism of William Blake, who
reflected in his poetry the ecstasy of his visions. Simplicity is the
keynote of his genius.
(William Bla\e born Nov. 28, 1757.)
Read: BLAKE’S POEMS Vol. 41, pp. 583-592
29. How Ideas Originate
Did you ever stop to think just how y o u thought? What inner
emotions, what outer influences make up the fathomless depths
of mind and intellect? Hume explains how we draw our
thoughts, then clumsily put them into tangible shape called ideas.
Read: Hume’s Or THE ORIGIN OF IDEAS Vol. 37, pp. 299-303
30. “Don’ts” for Conversation
T o harp on one’s illnesses, giving all the symptoms and circumstances,
has been a blemish on conversation for ages. T wo
hundred years ago Swift complained of persons who continually
talked about themselves.
(Jonathan Swift horn Nov. 30, 1667.)
Read: Swift’s ESSAY ON CONVERSATION Vol. 27, pp. 91-98
Michael Faraday taught scientific truths by everyday methods. By
the use of two sticks, a table and a pail he demonstrated that the
“center of gravity must remain within the base.” (See Reading
Assignment for November 6th.)
NO MAN SHOULD THINK SO HIGHLY OF HIMSELF AS TO
THINK HE CAN RECEIVE BUT LITTLE LIGHT FROM BOOKS.