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The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, Selections Annotated and Explained by Malaspina Great Books Web Editor Russell McNeil PhD
The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius:
Selections Annotated and Explained

Russell McNeil, PhD
Editor, Malaspina Great Books

In 1862 the English literary critic and poet Matthew Arnold described Marcus Aurelius as "the most beautiful figure in history." The Stoicism of Aurelius is grounded in rationality and rests solidly on an ethical approach rooted in nature. Stoicism promises real happiness and joy in this life and a serenity that can never be soured by personal misfortune. This philosophy has universal appeal with practical implications on problems ranging from climate change and terrorism to the personal management of sickness, aging, depression and addiction. I truly believe that the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius has much to offer us now...(Click on book cover for more)

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Name:George Bernard Shaw
Birth Year:1856
Death Year:1950
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George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) was an Irish playright and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature 1925. Born in Dublin, Shaw moved to London during the 1870s to embark on his literary career. He wrote five novels, all of which were rejected, before finding his first success as a music critic on the Star newspaper. In the meantime he had become involved in politics, and served as a local councillor in the St Pancras district of London for several years from 1897. He was a noted socialist who took a leading role in the Fabian Society. In 1895, he became the drama critic of the Saturday Review, and this was the first step in his progress towards a lifetime's work as a dramatist. In 1898, he married an Irish heiress, Charlotte Payne-Townshend, and his first successful play, Candida, was produced in the same year. He followed this up with a series of classic comedy-dramas, including The Devil's Disciple (1897), Arms and the Man (1898), Mrs Warren's Profession (1898), Captain Brassbound's Conversion (1900), Man and Superman (1902), Caesar and Cleopatra (1901), Major Barbara (1905), Androcles and the Lion (1912), and Pygmalion (1913). After World War I, on which he took a controversial stance, he produced more serious dramas, including Heartbreak House (1919) and Saint Joan (1923). An interesting characteristic of Shaw's published plays is the lengthy prefaces that accompany them. In those essays, Shaw wrote more about his usually controversial opinions on the issues touched by the plays than about the plays themselves. Some prefaces are much longer that the actual play. Shaw's correspondence with Mrs. Patrick Campbell was adapted for the stage by Jerome Kilty as DEAR LIAR: A Comedy of Letters. His letters to another prominent actress, Ellen Terry, have also been published and dramatised. By the time of his death, Shaw was not only a household name in the British Isles, but a world figure. Concerned about the inconsistency of English spelling, he willed a portion of his wealth to fund the creation of a new phonetic alphabet for the English language, known as the Shavian alphabet. [This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License and uses material adapted in whole or in part from the Wikipedia article on George Bernard Shaw.]

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This web page is part of a biographical database on Great Ideas. These are living ideas that have shaped, defined and directed world culture for over 2,500 years. By definition the Great Ideas are radical. As such they are sometimes misread, or distorted by popular simplifications. Understanding a Great Idea demands personal engagement. Our selection of Great Ideas is drawn from literature and philosophy, science, art, music, theatre, and cinema. We also include biographies of pivotal historical and religious figures, as well as contributions from women and other historically under-represented minorities. The result is an integrated multi-cultural and multi-disciplinary database built upon the framework of the always controversial Great Books Core List published in 1940 by the late Great Books Pioneer Mortimer Adler (1902-2001). Most of the works on that list are available in the 60 volume Great Books of the Western World.

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