Great Ideas, Great Books

Course NameLocationDurationDateTime
Great Ideas, Great Books—New SectionMaryleboneMonthly studyStarting 22 January 2019Tuesdays 6:00-8:30 PM

Great Ideas, Great Books is a new ongoing, monthly Salon where you will encounter the core texts and core ideas in the western intellectual tradition. Through authors such as Homer, Sophocles, Plato, Dante, Shakespeare, Machiavelli, Milton, Marx, Austen and Eliot, you will wrestle with the basic and enduring questions of what it means to be human: What is right and wrong? How do we come to know things? What do we owe to our families, our society, ourselves? What is happiness? What is a good life? What is a good society? We will talk about justice, morality, beauty, love, honor, death, government, society, goodness, community.

To encourage careful reading, and to fit our discussions into busy lives, we keep each month’s selection to a manageable length. For longer works, we read the book over two or more months, or we read substantial selections that present an author’s most important ideas.

This new section of Great Ideas, Great Books starts 22 January 2019 and will meet once a month, on the third Tuesday of the month from 6:00pm to 8:30pm (with occasional shifts to accommodate holidays). Meetings are held at the Rudolf Steiner House in Marylebone. If you are interested in Great Ideas, Great Books but prefer another day or location, please email facilitator Mark Cwik for other options.

During our discussions, we examine a reading from many different angles, puzzling over difficult passages, exploring the intricacies of a plot line, the layers of meaning in a poetic phrase, the subtleties of an argument or the implications of a thesis. We examine the ideas an author has set out, and consider them seriously.  We also step back from the details to see whether what an author has to say makes sense and is relevant to us or not.

You don’t need any specialized knowledge or background in classic literature to join Great Ideas, Great Books. It is our expectation that most participants will be reading many of the authors for the first time. All you really need is a willingness to read carefully, listen thoughtfully and entertain new and sometimes-challenging ideas.

Great Ideas, Great Books  starts its first year in the ancient Greek world, with Homer, Herodotus, Thucydides, Sophocles, Plato and Aristotle. As the program progresses, we will move to later works including those from the Roman world, from the Judeo-Christian scriptural tradition, the middle ages and enlightenment, up to modern thought. Great Ideas is structured as a  long-term project, with the flexibility to direct our focus to differing topics and time periods according to the interests of the group.

Dates for the new section of Great Ideas, Great Books are:

22 January 2019—Homer, The Iliad, Books 1 – 12

12 February 2019—Homer, The Iliad, Books 13 – 24

19 March 2019—Herodotus, The Persian Wars, selection

23 April 2019—Thucydides, The History of the Peloponnesian War, selection

21 May 2019—Plato, Meno

18 June 2019—Sophocles, Oedipus Rex

July 2019— Sophocles, Antigone

August 2019—Aristotle, Poetics

September 2019—Plato, Apology, Crito, Phaedo

October 2019—Plato, Republic

November 2019—Plato, Republic


Registration for Great Ideas, Great Books is in six-month subscriptions. The £25 per month registration includes introductory notes that set the context for each reading, and questions to help focus your reading and prompt your thinking about key aspects of the text.


ABOUT THE FACILITATOR: Mark Cwik has been organizing and leading great books discussion groups for adults for over twenty years in Chicago, Toronto and London.  He was trained as a discussion facilitator while at the Great Books Foundation in Chicago and has been a passionate advocate for great books education since attending St. John’s College, Santa Fe and the University of Chicago Basic Program in Liberal Education.

“I’ve been coming to Mark’s discussion groups for about 15 years . . . Mark is amazing in his ability to keep the group functioning smoothly. He asks questions that get to the heart of the piece and he keeps the group focused on those questions. You don’t feel that he’s trying to steer us to any conclusion; he’s in it with us to figure out what the author is saying. He makes everyone feel welcome and their opinions are respectfully heard. He’s always prepared and totally dedicated to advancing our understanding of the great books.” — Chicago group participants.



  • Facilitated by Mark Cwik
  • Tuesday evenings 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm
  • Ongoing monthly study starting 22 January 2019
  • Meetings in Rudolf Steiner House, Marylebone — 35 Park Road, London, NW1 6XT
  • January/February recommended edition: Homer’s The Iliad, translated by Robert Fagles, introduction by Bernard Knox; Penguin Classics; ISBN-13: 978-0140275360
  • £25 per month, registration in six-month subscriptions

TO REGISTER for the study, please use the secure Paypal payment button below to pay £150. Opening notes will be sent shortly after registration.

If you have any questions about this study, please contact us.