That's the phrase Great Courses professor Rufus Fears (who passed away recently in 2012) likes to use as he lectures on the Great Books. I have heard thus far his talks on Seneca, John the Evangelist, Boethius, and Dostoevsky. While I can quibble with some of his broad generalizations, I think his talks are worth listening to for most of us.
Yet, I find amazing his neglect of Don Quixote, given the theme of the unconquerable human spirit. Nevertheless, Prof. Fears leaves us a great legacy by reminding us that great literature, like great philosophy and theology, is about the wisdom of living in the face of the great and sometimes horrifying challenges and tragedies that human beings face. His talks so far demonstrate a call to courage that it is good for all to hear--because none of us is or will be exempt from the challenge of suffering in this world.
His talks also serve to challenge us to read those great books we have postponed reading for too long or to reread them now with the wisdom of our older selves.
Great Courses link: http://www.thegreatcourses.com/tgc/courses/course_detail.aspx?cid=2180
(Image of Boethius in public domain)