The Perfect Gift

The Perfect Gift

The Philanthropic Imagination in Poetry and Prose
Edited by Amy A. Kass
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 08/12/2002
Format: Paperback 1 index
ISBN: 978-0-253-21542-0
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This volume aims at cultivating and enlightening our philanthropic imagination. It addresses us all as present and future philanthropists, as human beings who give, serve, and seek to promote the well being of others. It suggests that we are continually confronted with choices about giving, and offers a collection of writings intended to help us reflect more seriously on these choices, and to make philanthropic acts, when they are undertaken, more meaningful.

The readings contained in The Philanthropic Imagination come from a variety of cultures, time periods, and genres. They represent classical works of literature, philosophy, and religion, but also contemporary and popular writings. Selections are drawn from the works of Aristotle, Shakespeare, Dostoevsky, C. S. Lewis, Alexis de Tocqueville, Martin Luther King, P. G. Wodehouse, Sholom Aleichem, and Shel Silverstein, among others. They are organized by the specific question they address: When, why, how, to whom, and what should we give?

Amy Kass provides a general introduction to the book, as well as introductions to each selection. The introductions offer context for each reading and questions to guide reflection, but they do not supply uniform answers. The answers must come from the reader.

Author Bio

Amy A. Kass, Senior Lecturer in the Humanities Collegiate Division at the University of Chicago, is an award-winning teacher. Her previous anthologies include American Lives: Cultural Differences, Individual Distinction and (with Leon Kass) Wing to Wing, Oar to Oar: Readings on Courting and Marrying.


“"Producing The Pefect Gift was a real act of philanthropy, a very good thing to do." —Philanthropy ”

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Table of Contents

Preliminary Table of Contents:

I. Why Should I Give?
1. Genesis 4, The Offering of Cain
2. Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics: "Generosity, Extravagance, and Stinginess"
3. Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America: Freedom and Utility
4. George Eliot, "An Arresting Voice"
5. O. Henry, "Two Thanksgiving Day Gentlemen"
6. C. S. Lewis, "Charity"
7. P. G. Wodehouse, "Jeeves Takes Charge"
8. William F. May, "The Prayers of Thanksgiving"
9. Barry Schwartz, "The Social Psychology of Giving"
10. Clifford Orwin, "Princess Diana and Mother Teresa: Compassion and Christian Charity"
11. Elizabeth M. Lynn and D. Susan Wisely, "Toward a Fourth Philanthropic Response:
American Philanthropy and its Public"

II. How Should I Give?
1. Matthew 25:1?46, Three Parables
2. Homer, The Odyssey: The Meeting of Nausikaa and Odysseus
3. Moses Maimonides, "Eight Levels of Charity"
4. Sarah Orne Jewett, "Spur of the Moment"
5. Isaac Peretz, "Motl Prince"
6. Jane Addams, "Charitable Effort"
7. O. Henry, "The Chair of Philanthromathematics"
8. Edith Wharton, "The Rembrandt"
9. Rudyard Kipling, "The Record of Badalia Herodsfoot"
10. Sylvia Warner, "A Work of Art"
11. John Reed, "Another Case of Ingratitude"
12. Gwendolyn Brooks, "The Lovers of the Poor"

III. To Whom or For What Should I Give?
1. Genesis 25:19?34; 27?28:9, Parents and Children: The Case of Jacob and Esau
2. Matthew 25:14?30, The Parable of the Talents
3. William Shakespeare, Timon of Athens, Act I, Scene 1
4. William H. McGuffey, "True and False Philanthropy"
5. Andrew Carnegie, "The Gospel of Wealth"
6. Henri Barbusse, "The Eleventh"
7. Stephen Leacock, "Mr. Plumter, B. A., Revisits the Old Shop"
8. Stephen Crane, "The Men in the Storm"
9. Leon Kass, "Charity and the Confines of Compassion"

IV. What Should I Give?
1. Luke 15:11?32, The Parable of the Prodigal Son