[GB] Great Books of the Western World

Great Books of the Western World [GB]

Current edition published in 1990

Alongside the Harvard Classics [HC], this is the granddaddy of modern canonical compilations. Originally put out in 1952 by Encyclopeadia Britannica (with help from one Mortimer J. Adler [HRB]), the Great Books series got an update in 1990 with second edition, though two surprisingly good books, Tom Jones and Tristram Shandy, were dropped. When people talk about colleges only giving you dead white males to read, the Great Books series is what they are referring to. However, in its defense, the selections of the first edition are indisputably seminal. There isn’t much fiction, and even the 19th century novels included (Moby-DickBrothers K, and War and Peace) are so epic and core to Western culture that it would be hard to advocate substitutions with a straight face. The additions of the second edition are harder to defend, as they persist in promoting white males in a century that saw many excellent women authors and authors of color. But make no mistake. This is not a “great novels” list. This is a catalog of human thought, with many tough, technical nonfiction entries. The Great Books series aspires to be like Pinsky’s Figured Wheel, recording “on its rotating surface the elegant and terrifying doings of the inhabitants of the Hundred Pantheons of major Gods disposed in iconographic stations at hub, spoke and concentric bands.” It is grave, unapologetic, and ponderous. This is the list that Joyce and the Modernists consumed and exploded. It is the list that many of Larry McCaffery’s [LM] heroes mocked or ignored. This is Literature.
To see the full list from the Great Books of the Western World, click here or read below. Works marked in RED appeared on at least one other of the twenty-four “Great Works” lists I’ve compiled, and so made the Master List.

Volume 1

Volume 2

Volume 3

Volume 4

Volume 5

Volume 6

Volume 7

Volume 8

Volume 9

Volume 10

Volume 11

Volume 12

Volume 13

Volume 14

Volume 15

Volume 16

Volume 17

Volume 18

Volume 19

Volume 20

Volume 21

Volume 22

Volume 23

Volume 24

Volume 25

Volume 26

Volume 27

Volume 28

Volume 29

Volume 30

Volume 31

Volume 32

Volume 33

Volume 34

Volume 35

Volume 36

Volume 37

Volume 38

Volume 39

Volume 40

Volume 41

Volume 42

Volume 43

Volume 44

Volume 45

Volume 46

Volume 47

Volume 48

Volume 49

Volume 50

Volume 51

Volume 52

Volume 53

Volume 54

Volume 55

Volume 56

Volume 57

Volume 58

Volume 59

Volume 60


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