“The Sacred Books of the East (SBE) series, comprising fifty volumes, was issued by the Oxford University Press between 1879 and 1910. It has translations of key sacred texts of Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Zoroastrianism, Jainism, and Islam….The SBE has been designated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as part of the UNESCO Collection of Representative Works.” The entire set is available online, along with a comprehensive index. This was a monumental undertaking and some of the translated texts are still the most definitive we have.
Archive for Books
For those with a appreciation for how English has developed and changed over the years, these Middle English prose and poetry works might be of interest.
The Irish Texts Society publishes critical, translated editions of classic Irish poetry, tales, and the occasional history; most of these editions, even though some are a century old, are still considered the best of their kind. The first twenty-four volumes are split between here and here.
The Dictionary of the History of Ideas was published to great acclaim in 1973/74; it contains works by such scholars as Merle Curti, Peter Stearns, and Sidney Hook. As the preface to the e-edition states “…the Dictionary of the History of Ideas was a culminating work in a tradition that had been energized by the fight against fascism. It was a tradition committed to the pursuit of disinterested scholarship in the academic sphere and to free expression of thought in the political sphere ….” From the development of cities to the workings of biology, this four-volume work distills much of the work and thought of twentieth-century academics. The bibliographies, while obviously outdated, still provide valuable citations.
The British Library is hosting Discovering Literature: 20th Century Literature; it contains major literary works, interpretive essays and analyses, and links to related writings such as letters, drafts, and manuscripts.
For those who need to get their Thor on, here you will find the sagas in Icelandic, with many translated into English. You should also check out the Icelandic section of the Internet Sacred Texts Archive as well.
We admit that we have been lucky that back in the day we walked the streets of Palmyra and gazed upon the Temple of Bel, visited “The Treasury” at Petra while marveling at the ingenuity of the water supply system there, tread the ruins of Carthage and recalled the phrase uttered by Cato at every speech-making opportunity (abbreviated as “Carthago delenda est”, and strolled among “The “Houses of the Dead” at Meroe. So it should come as no surprise that we recommend the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago with its wealth of online publications. Its entire corpus of 700+ works has been digitized for free access; these works encompass both scholarly and more popular items. Tomes range from Picturing the Past that highlights restoration efforts, whether in line drawings, digital reconstructions, or actual rebuilding to the Assyrian Dictionary, a multi-year project.