Chesterton students are required to read one classical work over the summer each year. This year’s reading assignments are included below together with study guides for each book. There is no need for students to answer the questions on paper; the study guide questions are designed to help guide the students’ reading. All students are expected to have carefully read their assigned book and all will have a quiz on that book within the first week of the school year in their literature class.
9th | Greek Myths (Hamilton, Edith), ISBN 978-0446574754
Edith Hamilton’s classic retelling of all the primary Greek myths serves as a great introduction to the Greek word that is the backdrop to the freshman literature sequence. Students will learn the Greek origin myth and several memorable cautionary tales. Also, these short stories introduce the Greek gods as well as all of the major Greek heroes, such as Hercules, Pericles, Theseus and Jason. This is a must-read for students to prepare for the Iliad, Odyssey, Aeneid and Greek drama in the freshman literature curriculum.
**Please Note: Incoming freshmen are asked to read Parts I-III of the Hamilton book only. Reading further actually begins to preclude the subject matter of the Iliad and Odyssey which we read during the year. Parts I-III take students through page 251.**
10th | Myths of the Norsemen (Green, Roger Lancelyn), ISBN 978-0141345253
With the slow fall of Rome that is covered in the sophomore history sequence, the gravitational center of the Christian world shifts northward, and the original Christian themes and ideals of the ancient word are retold against a new Germanic cultural backdrop. Roger Lancelyn Green ‘s retelling of these Nosre myths sets the stage for Beowulf, the Song of Roland and the Arthurian legends that are studied in the 10th grade.
11th | Praise of Folly (Erasmus), ISBN 978-0140446081 (other editions available)
Written in 1504 by the Catholic priest and writer Erasmus, Praise of Folly is funny but penetrating commentary on the Renaissance intellectual world. Erasmus was a friend of St. Thomas More and a defender of the Catholic faith, both from its own abuses and from the spirit of schism that was rising. In the tradition of the Canterbury Tales, but taking its cues from Dante, Erasmus imagines a banquet at which the personification of folly sings her own praises, challenging guests, and readers, to prove that any virtue is better than her.
12th | Frankenstein (Shelley, Mary), ISBN 978-0486282114 (other editions available)
One of the most fundamental works of modern literature, Mary Shelley’s novella has very little to do with the 1950’s scary movies. Instead, it is a thoughtful study of the limits of human capacity in a scientific age that was quickly casting away old revealed truths. It is a work that could not have been written in any other moment in history, and the archetype of the creature that is sentient but not created by God is one that endures into our own day. Certainly vampires, werewolves and even aliens partake of this theme; yet so does mankind when reduced to mere materialism. (Note: please be sure to read the original 1818 version, not the later 1831 text. Click here to purchase on Amazon; click here for a free online copy.)