Books without Borders by Martha Franks
HOMER, AESCHYLUS, GALILEO, MELVILLE AND MADISON GO TO CHINA
Finalist in the Best New Non-Fiction category of the 2019 Best Book Awards (sponsored by American Book Fest)
Martha Franks’ Books without Borders: Homer, Aeschylus, Galileo, Melville and Madison Go to China is an account, a vivid narrative, of education actually taking place in the classroom day by day, month by month. Ms. Franks steadfastly and unpretentiously brings to her students a form of education directed not at passing standardized tests but at considering timeless questions such as, ‘What is the best life?’ ‘Does human suffering have any meaning?’ ‘What is justice and how can it be realized?’ At the same time, Ms. Franks portrays her own education through her reading of Chinese classics and travels to sites such as the Forbidden City, the Palace of Heaven, the Great Wall, and the Lecture Hall and Grave of Confucius.
Ms. Franks brings her narrative to a close with these words:
“There would be no wrapping up into a neat bundle of certainty—that’s not what the liberal arts are about. Instead, I hoped that in some future I could not imagine these students would carry a memory of our time together and hear, always, all their lives, that it matters what they feel, think, and believe.”
To whom does it matter? To all of us. The stakes are high.