Great Conversation  

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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 Great Conversation is a characterization of references and allusions made by authors in the Western canon to the works of their predecessors. As such it is a name used in the promotion of the Great Books of the Western World ("GBWW") published by Encyclopædia Britannica Inc. in 1952.

It is also the title of Volume 1 of the first edition of this set of books, authored by Robert Maynard Hutchins, and an accessory volume to the second edition (1990), authored by Mortimer Adler.

According to Hutchins, "The tradition of the West is embodied in the Great Conversation that began in the dawn of history and that continues to the present day." (The Great Conversation, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 1952.)

Adler said, "What binds the authors together in an intellectual community is the great conversation in which they are engaged. In the works that come later in the sequence of years, we find authors listening to what their predecessors have had to say about this idea or that, this topic or that. They not only harken to the thought of their predecessors, they also respond to it by commenting on it in a variety of ways." Mortimer Adler: "The Great Conversation Revisited," in The Great Conversation: A Reader's Guide to Great Books of the Western World, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., Chicago, 1990, p. 28.



Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Great Conversation" 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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