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Great Books of the Western World

60 great volumes
Over all width:
1.65m (65")
Novels, Short Stories, Plays, and Poetry
Philosophy and Religion
History, Politics, Economics, and Ethics
Mathematics and Natural Sciences


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It's great!

If you love literature and the written word, consider investing in the world’s greatest collection of books and classics in one magnificent set.

From Plato to Shakespeare, Dickens to Darwin, Great Books is all the introduction you'll ever need to the ideas, stories and discoveries that have shaped modern civilisation. This collection of 517 classics is yours in 60 beautifully bound volumes. Importantly, since this includes popular novels from 20th-century authors, it's the most up-to-date collection of great books and classics in the Britannica online store.

Great Collection highlights at a glance

  • The Great Conversation: a compilation featuring fascinating background information, extensive timelines, photos and quotes from the classic works and their authors.
  • Syntopicon: volumes 1 and 2 comprise this unique guide that enables you to investigate a particular idea, such as courage or democracy, and compare the perspectives of different authors
  • Colour-coded Volumes: four colours identify each volume by subject area -- Imaginative Literature, Mathematics and the Natural Sciences, History and Social Science, and Philosophy and Theology
  • Reading Guidance: a special section offers advice on how to get the most out of the Great Books collection, including a 10-year reading plan.

60 great volumes containing 517 classic works by 130 authors

Reading and understanding great works by history’s outstanding minds has always been considered the substance of a well-rounded education. The Great Books of the Western World has been acclaimed as the greatest publishing venture of the 20th-century.

The set now consists of 60 volumes, with 517 works by 130 authors spanning 30 centuries, on a total of 37,000 pages containing 29 million words. Among Great Books’ 130 authors, 47 are writers of imaginative literature; 29 are masters of mathematics and/or the natural sciences; 28 are historians or social scientists and 28 or more are philosophers and/or theologians.

(This totals 132 because William James and Alfred North Whitehead have made contributions in both of the latter two subject categories.) Additionally, the two-volume Syntopicon® lists some 3,020 topics under 102 Great Ideas and refers you to every significant statement on that topic by the authors in the Great Books. It is as though all 517 works in Great Books had been read 3,020 times -- each time with a particular question in mind: What do the great authors have to say about this particular topic?

Compare and contrast different ideas with the Syntopican® Guide

Volumes 1 and 2 of this collection are the Syntopicon®, a unique two-volume guide (not sold separately) that enables you to investigate a particular idea and compare what different authors have to say about it.

The Syntopicon® comprises a new kind of reference work -- accomplishing for ideas what the dictionary accomplishes for words and the encyclopaedia accomplishes for facts. Also included is Great Conversation, featuring fascinating background information, extensive timelines, photos and quotes from the classic works and their great authors.

Great Books are colour coded for easy reference

GREEN: Novels, Short Stories, Plays and Poetry

Volume 3 Homer
Volume 4 Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes
Volume 12 Virgil
Volume 19 Dante, Chaucer
Volume 22 Rabelais
Volume 24 Shakespeare l
Volume 25 Shakespeare ll
Volume 27 Cervantes
Volume 29 Milton
Volume 31 Molière, Racine
Volume 34 Swift, Voltaire, Diderot
Volume 45 Goethe, Balzac
Volume 46 Austen, George Eliot
Volume 47 Dickens
Volume 48 Melville, Twain
Volume 51 Tolstoy
Volume 52 Dostoevsky, Ibsen
Volume 59 Henry James, Shaw, Conrad, Chekhov, Pirandello, Proust, Cather, Mann, Joyce
Volume 60 Woolf, Kafka, Lawrence, T.S. Eliot, O’Neill, Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Brecht, Hemingway, Orwell, Beckett

RED: Philosophy and Religion

Volume 6 Plato
Volume 7 Aristotle l
Volume 8 Aristotle ll
Volume 11 Lucretius, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, Plotinus
Volume 16 Augustine
Volume 17 Aquinas l
Volume 18 Aquinas ll
Volume 20 Calvin
Volume 28 Bacon, Descartes, Spinoza
Volume 30 Pascal
Volume 33 Locke, Berkeley, Hume
Volume 39 Kant
Volume 43 Hegel, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche
Volume 55 William James, Bergson, Dewey, Whitehead, Russell, Heidegger, Wittgenstein, Barth

BLUE: History, Politics, Economics and Ethics

Volume 5 Herodotus, Thucydides
Volume 13 Plutarch
Volume 14 Tacitus
Volume 21 Machiavelli, Hobbes
Volume 23 Erasmus, Montaigne
Volume 35 Montesquieu, Rousseau
Volume 36 Adam Smith
Volume 37 Gibbon l
Volume 38 Gibbon ll
Volume 40 J.S. Mill
Volume 41 Boswell
Volume 44 Tocqueville
Volume 50 Marx, Engels
Volume 57 Veblen, Tawney, Keynes
Volume 58 Frazer, Weber, Huizinga, Levi-Strauss

GREY: Mathematics and Natural Sciences

Volume 9 Hippocrates, Galen
Volume 10 Euclid, Archimedes, Nicomachus
Volume 15 Ptolemy, Copernicus, Kepler
Volume 26 Gilbert, Galileo, Harvey
Volume 32 Newton, Huygens
Volume 42 Lavoisier, Faraday
Volume 49 Darwin
Volume 53 William James
Volume 54 Freud
Volume 56 Poincare, Planck, Whitehead, Einstein, Eddington, Bohr, Hardy, Heisenberg, Schrodinger, Dobzhansky, Waddington

Samples of great thoughts through the ages

5th Century B.C. — Euripides

"...our ancestors handled these matters well by banning their murderers from public sight, forbidding them to meet or speak to anyone. But the point is this: they purged their guilt by banishment, not death. And by so doing, they stopped that endless vicious cycle of murder and revenge."
--- Orestes

17th Century — Locke

"Every man in the state of Nature has the power to kill a murderer, both to deter others from doing the like injury — and also to secure men from the attempts of a criminal who — hath, by the unjust violence and slaughter he hath committed upon one, declared war against all mankind."
---Concerning Civil Government

20th Century — Shaw

"...the human fact remains that the burning of Joan of Arc was a horror, and that a historian who would defend it would defend anything. The final criticism of its physical side is implied in refusal of the Marquesas islanders to be persuaded that the English did not eat Joan. Why, they ask, should anyone take the trouble to roast a human being except with that object? They cannot conceive its being a pleasure. As we have no answer for them that is not shameful to us, let us blush for our more complicated and pretentious savagery..."
---St Joan (Preface)

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