Great Books of the Western World

Contents of the 60-Volume Set (1990 Edition)


1. The Syntopicon: An Index to the Great Ideas

2. The Syntopicon (cont.)

3. Homer, The Iliad, The Odyssey

4. Aeschylus, Plays
Sophocles, Plays
Euripides, Plays
Aristophanes, Plays

5. Herodotus, The History of the Persian Wars
Thucydides, The History of the Peloponnesian War

6. Plato, Dialogues, The Seventh Letter

7. Aristotle, Works

8. Aristotle, Works (cont.)

9. Hippocrates, Works
Galen, On the Natural Faculties

10. Euclid, Elements
Archimedes, Works
Nicomachus, Introduction to Arithmetic

11. Lucretius, The Way Things Are
Epictetus, Discourses
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
Plotinus, The Six Enneads

12. Virgil, Eclogues, Georgics, The Aeneid

13. Plutarch, The Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans

14. Tacitus, The Annals, The Histories

15. Ptolemy, The Almagest
Nicolaus Copernicus, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres
Johannes Kepler, Epitome of Copernican Astronomy (Books IV-V), The Harmonies of the World (Book V)

16. Saint Augustine, The Confessions, The City of God, On Christian Doctrine

17. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica

18. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica (cont.)

19. Dante, The Divine Comedy
Geoffrey Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde, The Canterbury Tales

20. John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion

21. Nicolo Machiavelli, The Prince
Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan

22. François Rabelais, Gargantua and Pantagruel

23. Desiderius Erasmus, Praise of Folly
Michel de Montaigne, Essays

24. William Shakespeare, Plays

25. William Shakespeare, Plays (cont.), Sonnets

26. William Gilbert, On the Loadstone and Magnetic Bodies
Galileo, Dialogues Concerning the Two New Sciences
William Harvey, On the Motion of the Heart and Blood in Animals, On the Circulation of the Blood, On the Generation of Animals

27. Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote

28. Francis Bacon, Advancement of Learning, Novum Organum, New Atlantis
René Descartes, Rules for the Direction of the Mind, Discourse on the Method, Meditations on First Philosophy, Objections Against the Meditations and Replies, The Geometry
Benedict de Spinoza, Ethics

29. John Milton, English Minor Poems, Paradise Lost, Samson Agonistes, Areopagitica

30. Blaise Pascal, The Provincial Letters, Pensées, Scientific Treatises

31. Molière, The School for Wives, The Critique of the School for Wives, Tartuffe, Don Juan, The Miser, The Would-Be Gentleman, The Would-Be Invalid
Jean Racine, Berenice, Phaedra

32. Isaac Newton, Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, Optics
Christiaan Huygens, Treatise on Light

33. John Locke, A Letter Concerning Toleration, Second Essay on Civil Government, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding
George Berkeley, The Principles of Human Knowledge
David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding

34. Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels
Voltaire, Candide
Denis Diderot, Rameau’s Nephew

35. Montesquieu, The Spirit of Laws
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, A Discourse on the Origin of Inequality, A Discourse on Political Economy, The Social Contract

36. Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations

37. Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

38. Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (cont.)

39. Immanuel Kant, The Critique of Pure Reason, Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysics of Morals, The Critique of Practical Reason, Preface and Introduction to the Metaphysical Elements of Ethics, General Introduction to the Metaphysic of Morals, The Science of Right, The Critique of Judgment

40. American State Papers (Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation, Constitution of the United States of America)
      Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, John Jay, The Federalist Papers
John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, Representative Government, Utilitarianism

41. James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson

42. Antoine Lavoisier, Elements of Chemistry
Michael Faraday, Experimental Researches in Electricity

43. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, The Philosophy of Right, The Philosophy of History
Soren Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling
Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil

44. Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

45. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust
Honoré de Balzac, Cousin Bette

46. Jane Austen, Emma
George Eliot, Middlemarch

47. Charles Dickens, Little Dorrit

48. Herman Melville, Moby Dick
Mark Twain, Huckleberry Finn

49. Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species, The Descent of Man

50. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party
Karl Marx, Capital (Vol. 1)

51. Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

52. Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
Henrik Ibsen, A Doll’s House, The Wild Duck, Hedda Gabler, The Master Builder

53. William James, The Principles of Psychology

54. Sigmund Freud, Major Works (including Selected Papers on Hysteria, The Interpretation of Dreams, A General Introduction to Psychoanalysis, Civilization and Its Discontents, New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis)

55. 20th Century Philosophy and Religion:
      William James, Pragmatism
Henri Bergson, An Introduction to Metaphysics
John Dewey, Experience and Education
Alfred North Whitehead, Science and the Modern World
Bertrand Russell, The Problems of Philosophy
Martin Heidegger, What Is Metaphysics?
Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations
Karl Barth, The Word of God and the Word of Man

56. 20th Century Natural Science:
      Henri Poincaré, Science and Hypothesis
Max Planck, Scientific Autobiography and Other Papers
Alfred North Whitehead, An Introduction to Mathematics
Albert Einstein, Relativity: The Special and the General Theory
Arthur Eddington, The Expanding Universe
Niels Bohr, Atomic Theory and the Description of Nature (selections), Discussion with Einstein on Epistemological Problems in Atomic Physics
G.H. Hardy, A Mathematician’s Apology
Werner Heisenberg, Physics and Philosophy
Erwin Schrödinger, What is Life?
Theodosius Dobzhansky, Genetics and the Origin of Species
C.H. Waddington, The Nature of Life

57. 20th Century Social Science (I):
      Thorstein Veblen, The Theory of the Leisure Class
R.H. Tawney, The Acquisitive Society
John Maynard Keynes, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money

58. 20th Century Social Science (II):
      James George Frazer, The Golden Bough (selections)
      Max Weber, Essays in Sociology (selections)
      Johan Huizinga, The Waning of the Middle Ages
Claude Lévi-Strauss, Structural Anthropology (selections)

59. 20th Century Imaginative Literature (I):
      Henry James, The Beast in the Jungle
George Bernard Shaw, Saint Joan
Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness
Anton Chekhov, Uncle Vanya
Luigi Pirandello, Six Characters in Search of an Author
Marcel Proust, Swann in Love (from Remembrance of Things Past)
      Willa Cather, A Lost Lady
Thomas Mann, Death in Venice
James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

60. 20th Century Imaginative Literature (II):
      Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse
Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis
D.H. Lawrence, The Prussian Officer
T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land
Eugene O’Neill, Mourning Becomes Electra
F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
William Faulkner, A Rose for Emily
Bertolt Brecht, Mother Courage and Her Children
Ernest Hemingway, The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber
George Orwell, Animal Farm
Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot

Note: The Bible should also be considered as part of this list. It is indexed in The Syntopicon. The editors explain that it was not included in the Great Books set because it was assumed that any literate person would already have a copy.

The editors also note that the twentieth-century selections are just a provisional sampling: It remains to be seen which of them, in the perspective of time, will prove to be as enduring as the earlier works.


Table of contents of the Great Books of the Western World (2nd edition, 1990), edited by Mortimer Adler et al., published by Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc.

The second edition is significantly larger than the first (1952). It dropped Apollonius’s Conics, Fielding’s Tom Jones, Sterne’s Tristram Shandy, and J.B. Fourier’s Analytical Theory of Heat, but it added the works by Calvin, Erasmus, Molière, Racine, Voltaire, Diderot, Austen, Balzac, Dickens, Tocqueville, Kierkegaard, George Eliot, Twain, Ibsen, and Nietzsche, plus the six volumes of twentieth-century authors.

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