Montessori List for Classic Books

China


The Analects of Confucius by Confucius, translated by Simon Leys
In this terse, brilliant translation, Simon Leys restores the human dimension to Confucius. He emerges a full-blooded character with a passion for politics and a devotion to the ideals of a civilization he saw in decline. Leys’s Notes draw Confucius into conversation with the great thinkers of the Western tradition…

The Art of War by Sun-Tzu
The ancient Chinese general Sun Tzu is universally recognized as the greatest military strategist in history, a master of warfare interpretation. This condensed version of his influential classic imparts the knowledge and skills to overcome every adversary in war, at the office, or in everyday life…

The I Ching or Book of Changes translated by Richard Wilhelm
More than just a translation, Richard Wilhelm’s I Ching is a profound introduction to the Chinese world-view. The I Ching (Yi Jing) is recognized by both Confucians and Taoists as a foundational work, and Wilhelm shows why. He separates his work into three books. The first book is about the hexagrams…

Journey to the West Wu Cheng’en, translated by W.J.F. Jenner
Journey to the West is a classic Chinese mythological novel. It was written during the Ming Dynasty based on traditional folktales. Consisting of 100 chapters, this fantasy relates the adventures of a Tang Dynasty (618-907) priest Sanzang and his three disciples, Monkey, Pig and Friar Sand, as they travel west in search of Buddhist Sutra…

 

India


Ramayana retold by William Buck

Mahabharata retold by William Buck
Few works in world literature have inspired so vast an audience, in nations with radically different languages and cultures, as the Ramayana and Mahabharata, two Sanskrit verse epics written some 2,000 years ago…

 

Japan


A Book of Five Rings: The Classic Guide to Strategy by Miyamoto Musashi
To learn a Japanese martial art is to learn Zen, and although you can’t do so simply by reading a book, it sure does help–especially if that book is The Book of Five Rings. One of Japan’s great samurai sword masters penned in decisive, unfaltering terms this certain path to victory…

The Book of Tea by Kakuzo Okakura (an explanation for Westerners)
To many foreigners, nothing is so quintessentially Japanese as the tea ceremony–more properly, “the way of tea”–with its austerity, its extravagantly minimalist stylization, and its concentration of extreme subtleties of meaning into the simplest of actions. The Book of Tea is something of a curiosity: written in English by a Japanese scholar (and issued here in bilingual form), it was first published in 1906, in the wake of the naval victory over Russia with which Japan asserted its rapidly acquired status as a world-class military power…

The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu, translated by Edward G. Seidensticker
Not only the world’s first real novel, but one of its greatest…

Zen in the Art of Flower Arrangement by Gustie L. Herrigel, translated by R. F. C. Hull
Not only the world’s first real novel, but one of its greatest…

 

Mexico


The Labyrinth of Solitude by Octavio Paz
First published in 1950, The Labyrinth of Solitude addresses issues that are both seemingly eternal and resoundingly contemporary: the nature of political power in post-conquest Mexico, the relation of Native Americans to Europeans, the ubiquity of official corruption. Noting these matters earned Paz no small amount of trouble from the Mexican leadership, but it also brought him renown as a social critic…

The Collected Poems of Octavio Paz
Paz, a cosmopolitan poet, is also intensely Mexican. In his lines–whether long and flowing or spare and chiseled–sorrow and solitude are measured against the strength of his people and refracted through the prism of his gentle romanticism (“The world is born when two people kiss”). From India, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and France, the poet-diplomat pens updates on the fragile state of the world. Yet if death is an ever-present reality in his poetry, so is hope…

 

Middle East

 

By Naguib Mahfouz:

Originally published in Arabic in 1959, Mahfouz’s multigenerational saga presents an allegorical look at spirituality…

Children of the Alley
Midag Alley
The Cairo Trilogy: Palace Walk, Palace of Desire, Sugar Street

The novels of The Cairo Trilogy trace three generations of the family of tyrannical patriarch Al-Sayyid Ahmad Abd al-Jawad, who rules his household with a strict hand while living a secret life of self-indulgence

 

The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyaim by Omar Khayyaim, translated by Edmund J. Sullivan
In the eleventh century, in Persia, there lived a mathematician named Ghiyathuddin Abulfath Omar bin Ibrahim al-Khayyami–or, Omar, son of Abraham, the tent-maker. Omar wrote poetry, and while his rhymes received little attention in their day, they were rediscovered and translated into beautiful English–more than seven centuries later–by a gentleman and scholar named Edward FitzGerald. It was a meeting of minds, a great collaboration of the past and the present…

 

South America


One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The story follows 100 years in the life of Macondo, a village founded by José Arcadio Buendía and occupied by descendants all sporting variations on their progenitor’s name: his sons, José Arcadio and Aureliano, and grandsons, Aureliano José, Aureliano Segundo, and José Arcadio Segundo.  With One Hundred Years of Solitude Gabriel García Márquez introduced Latin American literature to a world-wide readership…

Pablo Neruda: Selected Poems
In his long life as a poet, Pablo Neruda succeeded in becoming what many poets have aspired to but never achieved: a public voice, a voice not just for the people of his country but for his entire continent. Widely translated, he probably reached more readers than any poet in history; justly so, for, as he often said, his “poet’s obligation” was to become a voice for all those who had no voice, an aspiration that stemmed from his long-time commitment to the communist faith…

 

United Kingdom


The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling
Rikki-Tikki-Tavi by Rudyard Kipling
For one hundred years, these classic tales — drawn from the oral storytelling traditions of India and Africa and filled with mischievously clever animals and people — have entertained young and old alike

The Man Who Would Be King and Other Stories by Rudyard Kipling
Arranged in the order of their original publication and written during Kipling’s time as a journalist in India, these seventeen short stories explore the themes of isolation and abandonment and the effects of the Indian caste system on society…

Rudyard Kipling: Complete Verse
Witty, profound, wildly funny, acerbic and occasionally savage, Rudyard Kipling’s poems continue to delight readers of all ages. Included are both the familiar favorites and Kipling’s lesser-known works…

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