[HC] Harvard Classics

Harvard Classics (Dr. Eliot’s Five Foot Shelf) and the Harvard Classics Shelf of Fiction [HC]

Published in 1909 and 1917 respectively.
The Harvard Classics, along with the Great Books of the Wester World series, are what most Americans think of when they think of the Western Canon. It was originally called Dr. Eliot’s Five Foot Shelf after Charles Eliot, Harvard’s most famous president. The five foot shelf was a reference to the size of the bookshelf you’d need to fit the collection. The idea was this was the only shelf of books one needed to be informed on Western thought. It is shorter than the Great Books series and, like that collection, leans heavily on the Greeks and Romans, as well as on fundamental nonfiction texts by philosophers, scientists, and historians from the 19th century and later. The Shelf of Fiction adds a helping of mostly 19th century novels.



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