The 100 Most Influential Books Ever Written  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The 100 Most Influential Books Ever Written: The History of Thought from Ancient Times to Today (1998) is a book of intellectual history written by Martin Seymour-Smith (1928–1998), a British poet, critic, and biographer.

Chronological list

The one hundred most influential books, according to Seymour-Smith, in the approximate chronological order he gives:

# Author or source Title Date
1 Chinese classic texts I Ching 14th century BC
2 Jewish scripture Hebrew Bible 13th4th century BC
3 Homer Iliad and Odyssey 8th – early 7th century BC
4 Hindu scripture Upanishads 7th5th century BC
5 Lao Tsu Tao Te Ching 3rd century BC
6 Zoroastrian scripture Avesta 3rd century BC3rd century AD
7 Confucius Analects 5th4th century BC
8 Thucydides History of the Peloponnesian War 5th century BC
9 Hippocrates Works 400 BC
10 Aristotle Works 4th century BC
11 Herodotus Histories 5th century BC
12 Plato The Republic 380 BC
13 Euclid Elements 280 BC
14 Theravada Buddhist scripture Dhammapada (Path of the Dharma) 252 BC
15 Virgil Aeneid 19 BC
16 Lucretius De Rerum Natura 55 BC
17 Philo of Alexandria Allegorical Expositions of the Holy Laws 1st century
18 Christian scripture New Testament ca. 50–100 AD
19 Plutarch Parallel Lives 120 AD
20 Cornelius Tacitus Annals, From the Death of the Divine Augustus 120 AD
21 Valentinus Gospel of Truth (Gnostic text) 2nd century
22 Marcus Aurelius Meditations 167
23 Sextus Empiricus Outlines of Pyrrhonism 150-210 AD
24 Plotinus Enneads 3rd century
25 Augustine of Hippo Confessions 400 AD
26 Muslim scripture Quran 7th century
27 Moses Maimonides Guide for the Perplexed 1190
28 Text of Judaic mysticism Kabbalah 12th century
29 Thomas Aquinas Summa Theologiae 1266–1273
30 Dante Alighieri The Divine Comedy 1321
31 Desiderius Erasmus In Praise of Folly 1509
32 Niccolò Machiavelli The Prince 1532
33 Martin Luther On the Babylonian Captivity of the Church 1520
34 François Rabelais Gargantua and Pantagruel 1532 & 1534
35 John Calvin Institutes of the Christian Religion 1536
36 Nicolaus Copernicus On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres 1543
37 Michael Eyquem de Montaigne Essays 1580
38 Miguel de Cervantes Don Quixote 1605 & 1615
39 Johannes Kepler Harmony of the Worlds 1619
40 Francis Bacon Novum Organum 1620
41 William Shakespeare First Folio 1623
42 Galileo Galilei Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems 1632
43 René Descartes Discourse on Method 1637
44 Thomas Hobbes Leviathan 1651
45 Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Works 1663–1716
46 Blaise Pascal Pensées 1670
47 Baruch de Spinoza Ethics 1677
48 John Bunyan Pilgrim's Progress 1678-1684
49 Isaac Newton Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy 1687
50 John Locke Essay Concerning Human Understanding 1689
51 George Berkeley Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge 1710, revised 1734
52 Giambattista Vico The New Science 1725, revised 1744
53 David Hume A Treatise of Human Nature 1739–1740
54 Denis Diderot (ed.) Encyclopédie 1751–1772
55 Samuel Johnson A Dictionary of the English Language 1755
56 François-Marie de Voltaire Candide 1759
57 Thomas Paine Common Sense 1776
58 Adam Smith The Wealth of Nations 1776
59 Edward Gibbon The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire 1776-1787
60 Immanuel Kant Critique of Pure Reason 1781, revised 1787
61 Jean-Jacques Rousseau Confessions 1781
62 Edmund Burke Reflections on the Revolution in France 1790
63 Mary Wollstonecraft Vindication of the Rights of Woman 1792
64 William Godwin An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice 1793
65 Thomas Robert Malthus An Essay on the Principle of Population 1798, revised 1803
66 George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel Phenomenology of Spirit 1807
67 Arthur Schopenhauer The World as Will and Idea 1819
68 Auguste Comte Course in the Positivist Philosophy 1830–1842
69 Carl von Clausewitz On War 1832
70 Søren Kierkegaard Either/Or 1843
71 Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels Communist Manifesto 1848
72 Henry David Thoreau Civil Disobedience 1849
73 Charles Darwin The Origin of Species 1859
74 John Stuart Mill On Liberty 1859
75 Herbert Spencer First Principles 1862
76 Gregor Mendel Experiments on Plant Hybridization 1866
77 Leo Tolstoy War and Peace 1868–1869
78 James Clerk Maxwell Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism 1873
79 Friedrich Nietzsche Thus Spake Zarathustra 1883–1885
80 Sigmund Freud The Interpretation of Dreams 1900
81 William James Pragmatism 1908
82 Albert Einstein Relativity 1916
83 Vilfredo Pareto The Mind and Society 1916
84 Carl Gustav Jung Psychological Types 1921
85 Martin Buber I and Thou 1923
86 Franz Kafka The Trial 1925
87 Karl Popper The Logic of Scientific Discovery 1934
88 John Maynard Keynes General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money 1936
89 Jean-Paul Sartre Being and Nothingness 1943
90 Friedrich von Hayek The Road to Serfdom 1944
91 Simone de Beauvoir The Second Sex 1948
92 Norbert Wiener Cybernetics 1948, revised 1961
93 George Orwell Nineteen Eighty-Four 1949
94 George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson 1950
95 Ludwig Wittgenstein Philosophical Investigations 1953
96 Noam Chomsky Syntactic Structures 1957
97 Thomas Kuhn The Structure of Scientific Revolutions 1962, revised 1970
98 Betty Friedan The Feminine Mystique 1963
99 Mao Zedong Quotations From Chairman Mao Tse-tung (Little Red Book) 1966
100 B. F. Skinner Beyond Freedom and Dignity 1971

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "The 100 Most Influential Books Ever Written" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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