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Do We Need a "Canon" of Great Books?

Lists of "Great Books" have been around for a long time. In 1909, Harvard President Charles Eliot put out a 51-volume anthology (now known as the Harvard Classics), which included major works of philosophy, drama, poetry, natural science, biography, etc. from ancient to modern times. In 1917, Eliot published a complementary 20-volume Harvard Classics Shelf of Fiction, containing representative classic novels. In 1952, University of Chicago President Robert Hutchins, in collaboration with philosopher Mortimer Adler, produced a 54-volume anthology—called Great Books of the Western World—with contents similar to those of the Harvard sets. The aim of these sets was to enable readers to...


received his Ph.D. in Religious Studies from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. He writes on education, politics, religion, and culture.

This article originally appeared in Salvo, Issue #35, Winter 2015 Copyright © 2024 Salvo |


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