Changing the Game: The Most Influential Novels
There are plenty of ways that humans can learn about ourselves, and our history, but novels and the written word are some of the best ways that we have found to record our long and varied history. If you want to know about the way humans have viewed themselves over the years, all you need to do is pick up a book.
Any book will give you a snapshot of the time when, and the place where, it was written, but some are more influential than others. If you want to boost your reading list, here are some of the best and most influential novels of all time.
The Republic – Plato
Plato’s The Republic, which was written around 380 BCE, is the most eminent Socratic dialogue ever recorded. In the book, Socrates, and his student Plato, discuss what it means to be right and just, in a world that is completely dominated by great and powerful men.
The book is simply a written record and synthesis of their discussions, but it has become one of the most influential novels of all time because of the scope and breadth of their conversations. All modern philosophers are simply building upon these early explorations.
The Prince – Niccolo Machiavelli
The Prince, which was written by Niccolo Machiavelli in the 16th century, is one of the first books of political philosophy ever published. Machiavelli lived in a time where city-states were ruled by aristocratic families who sought to overthrow each other in order to cement their family status.
Machiavelli’s text spoke to the rulers of these families, and the book was designed as a lesson on power and politics. This is where we get the phrase “Machiavellian,” which came to mean someone who was willing to do immoral things in order to obtain power and glory.
Divine Comedy – Dante Alighieri
Split into three books – Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso – Dante’s Divine Comedy is a long narrative poem that is considered one of the greatest works of world literature. Throughout the poem, the poet Virgil serves as a guide for Dante, the central character and author, teaching him about the dangers of immorality and the consequences of sin as they journey from Hell, through Purgatory, and up to Heaven.
This book is a giant allegory about the soul’s ascent towards the Divine, and draws extensively from the theories of St. Thomas Aquinas.