Classic book  

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Ancient works are classical not because they are old, but because they are powerful, fresh, and healthy.”--"What Is a Classic?" (1850) by Sainte-Beuve

"It seems an anomalous thing that any university student should proceed to his doctorate in Greek and Latin without ever having had a conspectus of the entire field of which he is familiar with a part; that, for example, he should be able to give no intelligent account of the Alexandrian School; that the significance of the Renaissance to a classicist should not be clear to him; that Scaliger, Lipsius, Casaubon, Bentley, Corssen and Lachmann should be little more than names; and that he should have learned nothing genetically about literary criticism, text criticism, and scientific linguistics."--A History of Classical Philology from the Seventh Century BC to the Twentieth Century AD (1911) by Harry Thurston Peck

The Bookworm (c. 1850) by Carl Spitzweg
The Bookworm (c. 1850) by Carl Spitzweg

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A classic book is a book accepted as being exemplary or noteworthy, either through an imprimatur such as being listed in any of the Western canons or through a reader's own personal opinion. The term itself is closely related to Western Canon and to various college/university Senior Comprehensive Examination Reading Lists. What makes a book "classic" is a concern that has occurred to various authors ranging from Italo Calvino to Mark Twain ("A book which people praise and don't read") and the related questions of "Why Read the Classics?" and "What Is a Classic?" have been essayed by authors from different genres and eras (Calvino, T. S. Eliot, Charles Augustin Sainte-Beuve). The ability of a classic book to be reinterpreted, to seemingly be renewed in the interests of generations of readers succeeding its creation, is a theme that is seen in the writings of literary critics including Michael Dirda, Saint-Beuve and Ezra Pound.


Modern definitions

In the 1980s Italo Calvino said in his essay “Why Read the Classics?” that “A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say” and comes to the crux of personal choice in this matter when he says (italics in the original translation): “Your classic author is the one you cannot feel indifferent to, who helps you define yourself in relation to him, even in dispute with him.”

Consideration of what makes a literary work a classic is for Calvino ultimately a personal choice, and, constructing a universal definition of what constitutes a Classic Book seems to him to be an impossibility, since, as Calvino says “There is nothing for it but for all of us to invent our own ideal libraries of classics.”

What actually makes a work of literature a ‘classic book’ is not just a consideration of extensively published authors. In 1920, Fannie M. Clark, a teacher at the Rozelle School in East Cleveland, Ohio, predates Calvino’s similar conclusions by 60 years when she also essayed the question of what makes a book a ‘classic’ in her article “Teaching Children to Choose” in The English Journal, Volume 9, No. 3, “The Official Organ of the National Council of Teachers of English”

Over the course of her essay Clark considers the question of what makes a piece of literature a classic and why the idea of “the classics” is important to society as a whole. Clark says that “teachers of English have been so long trained in the ‘classics’ that these ‘classics’ have become to them very much like the Bible, for the safety of which the rise of modern science causes such unnecessary fears.” She goes on to say that among the sources she consulted was a group of eighth-graders when she asked them the question: “What do you understand by the classics in literature?” Two of the answers Clark received were “Classics are books your fathers give you and you keep them to give to your children” and “Classics are those great pieces of literature considered worthy to be studied in English classes of high school or college”. Calvino agrees with the Ohio educator when he states “Schools and universities ought to help us understand that no book that talks about a book says more than the book in question, but instead they do their level best to make us think the opposite.” Clark and Calvino come to a similar conclusion that when a literary work is analyzed for what makes it 'classic', that in just the act of analysis or as Clark says "the anatomical dissection", the reader can end up destroying the unique pleasure that mere enjoyment a work of literature can hold.

While blogging on the website in 2009, Chris Cox echoes Twain’s ‘classic’ sentiments of 1900 and Bennett’s witticism about classic books when he opined on the Guardian.Co “Books Blog” that there are actually two kinds of “classic novels”: The first are those we know we should have read, but probably have not. These are generally the books that make us burn with shame when they come up in conversation…The second kind, meanwhile, are those books that we've read five times, can quote from on any occasion, and annoyingly push on to other people with the words: "You have to read this. It's a classic."


The terms “classic book” and “Western Canon” are closely related concepts that can confuse the student of literature but that are not necessarily each identical with the other. “Western canon” refers to a list of books considered to be “essential” and is presented in a variety of ways. It can be published as a collection (such as Penguin Classics, Oxford World's Classics, Modern Library, Everyman's Library, Great Books of the Western World), presented as a list of books with an academic’s imprimatur (such as Harold Bloom's) or be the official reading list of an institution of higher learning (such as St. John’s College Academic Program “The Reading List”

In 1850 Charles Augustin Sainte-Beuve (1804–1869) stated his answer to the question “What is a Classic?” ("Qu'est-ce qu'un classique?"):

“The idea of a classic implies something that has continuance and consistence, and which produces unity and tradition, fashions and transmits itself, and endures…. A true classic, as I should like to hear it defined, is an author who has enriched the human mind, increased its treasure, and caused it to advance a step; who has discovered some moral and not equivocal truth, or revealed some eternal passion in that heart where all seemed known and discovered; who has expressed his thought, observation, or invention, in no matter what form, only provided it be broad and great, refined and sensible, sane and beautiful in itself; who has spoken to all in his own peculiar style, a style which is found to be also that of the whole world, a style new without neologism, new and old, easily contemporary with all time.”

In this same essay Sainte-Beuve quoted Goethe (referring to the 'classics' concept)

"What is Classical is healthy; what is Romantic is sick ... Ancient works are classical not because they are old, but because they are powerful, fresh, and healthy.”

The concept of 'the classic' was a theme of T.S. Eliot's literary criticism as well. In The Sacred Wood he thought that one of the reasons "Dante is a classic, and Blake only a poet of genius" because of "the concentration resulting from a framework of mythology and theology and philosophy". (In commenting about Eliot's influence, Professor Jan Gorak stated that "the idea of a canon has become intertwined with the idea of the classic, an idea that T.S. Eliot tried to revitalize for the 'modern experiment'".) In echoes of Sainte-Beuve, Eliot gave a speech to the Virgil Society concerning himself with the very same question of "What is a Classic?" In his opinion there was only one author who was 'classic'...Virgil.

"No modern language can hope to produce a classic, in the sense I have called Virgil a classic. Our classic, the classic of all Europe, is Virgil."

In this instance, though, Eliot said that the word had different meanings in different surroundings and that his concern was with "one meaning in one context". He states his focus is to define only "one kind of art" and that it does not have to be "better...than another kind". His opening paragraph makes a clear distinction between his particular meaning of classic having Virgil as the classic of all literature and the alternate meaning of classic as "a standard author".

Literary figures from different eras have also weighed in (sometimes humorously) on the matter. Alan Bennett, the modern English playwright and author, said that “Definition of a classic: a book everyone is assumed to have read and often thinks they have read themselves.” Mark Van Doren, the Columbia University professor and poet, is quoted by Jim Trelease (in his library-monograph "Classic Picture Books All Children Should Experience"), as saying that “A classic is any book that stays in print”. And in his “Disappearance of Literature” speech given over a century ago in 1900, Mark Twain said, (referring to a learned academic’s lofty opinion of Milton’s “Paradise Lost”) that the work met the Professor’s definition of a classic as “something that everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read”. Clifton Fadiman thought that the works that become classic books have their start in childhood, saying that "If you wish to live long in the memory of men, you should not write for them at all. You should write what their children will enjoy." In his view the works we now judge to be classics are "great starters". Fadiman unites classic books through the ages in a continuum (and concurs with Goethe's thoughts on the vigor and relevance of the ancient Classics), when he states that classic books share a "quality of beginningness" with the legendary writer of the Iliad and the OdysseyHomer himself. Ezra Pound in his own tome on reading, ABC of Reading, gave his opinion as "A classic is classic not because it conforms to certain structural rule, or fits certain definitions (of which its author had quite probably never heard). It is classic because of a certain eternal and irrepressible freshness." Michael Dirda, the 1993 Pulitzer Prize winning critic, concurred with Pound's view regarding the vitality of a classic when he wrote that " of the true elements of a classic" was that "they can be read again and again with ever-deepening pleasure."


Publishing houses (i.e. Franklin Library, Easton Press and Folio Society) and colleges/universities (such as Oxford University Press and Yale University Press) are at times in the business of classic books. Publishers have their various types of ‘classic book’ lines, while universities and colleges have ‘required reading lists’ as well as associated publishing interests. If these books are the works of literature that well-read people are supposed to have read or at least be familiar with, then the genesis of the classic book genre and the processes through which texts are considered for selection (or not) is of interest. The development of the Penguin Classic line of books, among the most well-known of the classic imprints, can serve as an example.

Penguin Books, the parent company of Penguin Classics, had its inception during the 1930s when the founder, Alan Lane, was unable to find a book he actually wanted to read while at Exeter train station. As the company website tells it:

“Appalled by the selection on offer, Lane decided that good quality contemporary fiction should be made available at an attractive price and sold not just in traditional bookshops, but also in railway stations, tobacconists and chain stores.”

Sir Alan, in speaking of Penguin Books, is quoted on the company's website that “We believed in the existence in this country of a vast reading public and staked everything on it.” Within the first year, they had sold 3 million paperbacks of then-contemporary authors, such as Ernest Hemingway, Agatha Christie and Andre Maurois. Even so, the unarguable success of their Classics line was not a sure thing. Who could have known that E. V. Rieu's translation of “The Odyssey” (by Homer), would become a best-seller in the millions?

As the official history is related from the group:

“Ignoring the doubts of his colleagues, Allen Lane not only instantly agreed to publish the translation, but invited Rieu to edit a new series of Classics. It was a typical Lane decision, an instinctive leap, a certainty that an eager audience existed for new and accessible translations, one that Rieu's achievement had clearly created. It was not so much a gamble as an act of faith against all odds and a body of evidence that would have convinced any rational publisher guided solely by the balance sheet.”

The point of relating this particular company’s early history is that even Penguin Classics started with a single choice. Sir Alan Lane himself chose the company's first classic as important, not so much considering others' opinions, but keeping in mind the primacy of his own.

The 'Classic Book' reading lists now in use at some universities have been in modern vogue since at least the early part of the 20th Century with the additional impetus in 1909 of the Harvard Classics publishing imprimatur having individual works being chosen by outgoing Harvard University president Charles W. Eliot. The vogue for these "Reading Lists" has continued onto the 21st Century, Jane Mallison’s “Book Smart: Your Essential Reading List for Becoming a Literary Genius in 365 Days” (from 2007) being one example of the longevity of the concept.

Reading lists

The following is an example list, in chronological order, compiled from How to Read a Book by Mortimer Adler (1940), and How to Read a Book, 2nd ed. by Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren (1972):

Ancient (before AD 500) :

  1. HomerIliad; Odyssey
  2. The Old Testament
  3. Aeschylus – Tragedies
  4. Sophocles – Tragedies
  5. HerodotusHistories
  6. Euripides – Tragedies
  7. ThucydidesHistory of the Peloponnesian War
  8. Hippocrates – Medical Writings
  9. Aristophanes – Comedies
  10. Plato – Dialogues
  11. Aristotle – Works
  12. Epicurus – "Letter to Herodotus"; "Letter to Menoecus"
  13. EuclidElements
  14. Archimedes – Works
  15. ApolloniusConics
  16. Cicero – Works (esp. Orations; On Friendship; On Old Age; Republic; Laws; Tusculan Disputations; Offices)
  17. LucretiusOn the Nature of Things
  18. Virgil – Works (esp. Aeneid)
  19. Horace – Works (esp. Odes and Epodes; The Art of Poetry)
  20. LivyHistory of Rome
  21. Ovid – Works (esp. Metamorphoses)
  22. QuintilianInstitutes of Oratory
  23. PlutarchParallel Lives; Moralia
  24. TacitusHistories; Annals; Agricola; Germania; Dialogus de oratoribus (Dialogue on Oratory)
  25. Nicomachus of GerasaIntroduction to Arithmetic
  26. EpictetusDiscourses; Enchiridion
  27. PtolemyAlmagest
  28. Lucian – Works (esp. The Way to Write History; The True History; The Sale of Creeds; Alexander the Oracle Monger; Charon; The Sale of Lives; The Fisherman; Dialogue of the Gods; Dialogues of the Sea-Gods; Dialogues of the Dead)
  29. Marcus AureliusMeditations
  30. GalenOn the Natural Faculties
  31. The New Testament
  32. PlotinusThe Enneads
  33. St. Augustine – "On the Teacher"; Confessions; City of God; On Christian Doctrine

Medieval (AD 500—1450) :

  1. The Volsungs Saga or Nibelungenlied
  2. The Song of Roland
  3. The Saga of Burnt Njál
  4. MaimonidesThe Guide for the Perplexed
  5. St. Thomas AquinasOf Being and Essence; Summa Contra Gentiles; Of the Governance of Rulers; Summa Theologica
  6. Dante AlighieriThe New Life (La Vita Nuova); "On Monarchy"; Divine Comedy
  7. Giovanni Boccaccio - The Decameron
  8. Geoffrey ChaucerTroilus and Criseyde; The Canterbury Tales
  9. Thomas à KempisThe Imitation of Christ

Modern (after AD 1450) :

  1. Leonardo da VinciNotebooks
  2. Niccolò MachiavelliThe Prince; Discourses on the First Ten Books of Livy
  3. Desiderius ErasmusThe Praise of Folly; Colloquies
  4. Nicolaus CopernicusOn the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres
  5. Thomas MoreUtopia
  6. Martin LutherTable Talk; Three Treatises
  7. François RabelaisGargantua and Pantagruel
  8. John CalvinInstitutes of the Christian Religion
  9. Michel de MontaigneEssays
  10. William GilbertOn the Lodestone and Magnetic Bodies
  11. Miguel de CervantesDon Quixote
  12. Edmund SpenserProthalamion; The Faerie Queene
  13. Francis BaconEssays; The Advancement of Learning; Novum Organum; New Atlantis
  14. William Shakespeare – Poetry and Plays
  15. Galileo GalileiStarry Messenger; Two New Sciences
  16. Johannes KeplerThe Epitome of Copernican Astronomy; Harmonices Mundi
  17. William HarveyOn the Motion of the Heart and Blood in Animals; On the Circulation of the Blood; Generation of Animals
  18. GrotiusThe Law of War and Peace
  19. Thomas HobbesLeviathan; Elements of Philosophy
  20. René DescartesRules for the Direction of the Mind; Discourse on the Method; Geometry; Meditations on First Philosophy; Principles of Philosophy; The Passions of the Soul
  21. Corneille – Tragedies (esp. The Cid, Cinna)
  22. John Milton – Works (esp. the minor poems; Areopagitica; Paradise Lost; Samson Agonistes)
  23. Molière – Comedies (esp. The Miser; The School for Wives; The Misanthrope; The Doctor in Spite of Himself; Tartuffe; The Tradesman Turned Gentleman; The Imaginary Invalid; The Affected Ladies)
  24. Blaise PascalThe Provincial Letters; Pensées; Scientific Treatises
  25. John Bunyan - The Pilgrim's Progress
  26. BoyleThe Sceptical Chymist
  27. Christiaan HuygensTreatise on Light
  28. Benedict de SpinozaPolitical Treatises; Ethics
  29. John LockeA Letter Concerning Toleration; Of Civil Government; An Essay Concerning Human Understanding; Some Thoughts Concerning Education
  30. Jean Baptiste Racine – Tragedies (esp. Andromache; Phaedra; Athalie (Athaliah))
  31. Isaac NewtonMathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy; Opticks
  32. Gottfried Wilhelm LeibnizDiscourse on Metaphysics; New Essays on Human Understanding; Monadology
  33. Daniel DefoeRobinson Crusoe; Moll Flanders
  34. Jonathan SwiftThe Battle of the Books; A Tale of a Tub; A Journal to Stella; Gulliver's Travels; A Modest Proposal
  35. William CongreveThe Way of the World
  36. George BerkeleyA New Theory of Vision; A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge
  37. Alexander PopeAn Essay on Criticism; The Rape of the Lock; An Essay on Man
  38. Charles de Secondat, baron de MontesquieuPersian Letters; The Spirit of the Laws
  39. VoltaireLetters on the English; Candide; Philosophical Dictionary
  40. Henry FieldingJoseph Andrews; Tom Jones
  41. Samuel JohnsonThe Vanity of Human Wishes; Dictionary; Rasselas; Lives of the Poets
  42. David HumeA Treatise of Human Nature; Essays Moral and Political; An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding; History of England
  43. Jean-Jacques RousseauDiscourse on Inequality; On Political Economy; Emile: or, On Education; The Social Contract; Confessions
  44. Laurence SterneTristram Shandy; A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy
  45. Adam SmithThe Theory of Moral Sentiments; The Wealth of Nations
  46. William BlackstoneCommentaries on the Laws of England
  47. Immanuel KantCritique of Pure Reason; Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals; Critique of Practical Reason; Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics; The Science of Right; Critique of Judgment; Perpetual Peace
  48. Edward GibbonThe History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire; Autobiography
  49. James BoswellJournal; The Life of Samuel Johnson
  50. Antoine Laurent LavoisierTraité Élémentaire de Chimie (Elements of Chemistry)
  51. Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James MadisonFederalist Papers (together with the Articles of Confederation; United States Constitution and United States Declaration of Independence)
  52. Jeremy BenthamComment on the Commentaries; Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation; Theory of Fictions
  53. Johann Wolfgang GoetheFaust; Poetry and Truth
  54. Thomas Robert MalthusAn Essay on the Principle of Population
  55. John DaltonA New System of Chemical Philosophy
  56. Jean Baptiste Joseph FourierAnalytical Theory of Heat
  57. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich HegelThe Phenomenology of Spirit; Science of Logic; Elements of the Philosophy of Right; Lectures on the Philosophy of History
  58. William Wordsworth – Poems (esp. Lyrical Ballads; Lucy poems; sonnets; The Prelude)
  59. Samuel Taylor Coleridge – Poems (esp. Kubla Khan; The Rime of the Ancient Mariner ); Biographia Literaria
  60. David RicardoOn the Principles of Political Economy and Taxation
  61. Jane AustenPride and Prejudice; Emma
  62. Carl von ClausewitzOn War
  63. StendhalThe Red and the Black; The Charterhouse of Parma; On Love
  64. François GuizotHistory of Civilization in France
  65. Lord ByronDon Juan
  66. Arthur SchopenhauerStudies in Pessimism
  67. Michael FaradayThe Chemical History of a Candle; Experimental Researches in Electricity
  68. Nikolai LobachevskyGeometrical Researches on the Theory of Parallels
  69. Charles LyellPrinciples of Geology
  70. Auguste ComteThe Positive Philosophy
  71. Honoré Balzac – Works (esp. Le Père Goriot; Le Cousin Pons; Eugénie Grandet; Cousin Bette; César Birotteau)
  72. Ralph Waldo EmersonRepresentative Men; Essays; Journal
  73. Victor Hugo - Les Misérables
  74. Nathaniel HawthorneThe Scarlet Letter
  75. Alexis de TocquevilleDemocracy in America
  76. John Stuart MillA System of Logic; Principles of Political Economy; On Liberty; Considerations on Representative Government; Utilitarianism; The Subjection of Women; Autobiography
  77. Charles DarwinOn the Origin of Species; The Descent of Man; Autobiography
  78. William Makepeace Thackeray – Works (esp. Vanity Fair; The History of Henry Esmond; The Virginians; Pendennis)
  79. Charles Dickens – Works (esp. Pickwick Papers; Our Mutual Friend; David Copperfield; Dombey and Son; Oliver Twist; A Tale of Two Cities; Hard Times)
  80. Claude BernardIntroduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine
  81. George BooleThe Laws of Thought
  82. Henry David ThoreauCivil Disobedience; Walden
  83. Karl Marx and Friedrich EngelsDas Kapital (Capital); The Communist Manifesto
  84. George EliotAdam Bede; Middlemarch
  85. Herman MelvilleTypee; Moby-Dick; Billy Budd
  86. Fyodor DostoyevskyCrime and Punishment; The Idiot; The Brothers Karamazov
  87. Gustave FlaubertMadame Bovary; Three Stories
  88. Henry Thomas BuckleA History of Civilization in England
  89. Francis GaltonInquiries into Human Faculties and Its Development
  90. Bernhard RiemannThe Hypotheses of Geometry
  91. Henrik Ibsen – Plays (esp. Peer Gynt; Brand; Hedda Gabler; Emperor and Galilean; A Doll's House; The Wild Duck; The Master Builder)
  92. Leo TolstoyWar and Peace; Anna Karenina; "What Is Art?"; Twenty-Three Tales
  93. Richard DedekindTheory of Numbers
  94. Wilhelm WundtPhysiological Psychology; Outline of Psychology
  95. Mark TwainThe Innocents Abroad; Adventures of Huckleberry Finn; A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court; The Mysterious Stranger
  96. Henry AdamsHistory of the United States; Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres; The Education of Henry Adams; Degradation of Democratic Dogma
  97. Charles PeirceChance, Love, and Logic; Collected Papers
  98. William SumnerFolkways
  99. Oliver Wendell HolmesThe Common Law; Collected Legal Papers
  100. William JamesThe Principles of Psychology; The Varieties of Religious Experience; Pragmatism; A Pluralistic Universe; Essays in Radical Empiricism
  101. Henry JamesThe American; The Ambassadors
  102. Friedrich Wilhelm NietzscheThus Spoke Zarathustra; Beyond Good and Evil; On the Genealogy of Morality; The Will to Power; Twilight of the Idols; The Antichrist
  103. Georg CantorTransfinite Numbers
  104. Jules Henri PoincaréScience and Hypothesis; Science and Method; The Foundations of Science
  105. Sigmund FreudThe Interpretation of Dreams; Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality; Introduction to Psychoanalysis; Beyond the Pleasure Principle; Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego; The Ego and the Id; Civilization and Its Discontents; New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis
  106. George Bernard Shaw – Plays and Prefaces
  107. Max PlanckOrigin and Development of the Quantum Theory; Where Is Science Going?; Scientific Autobiography
  108. Henri BergsonTime and Free Will; Matter and Memory; Creative Evolution; The Two Sources of Morality and Religion
  109. John DeweyHow We Think; Democracy and Education; Experience and Nature; The Quest for Certainty; Logic – The Theory of Inquiry
  110. Alfred North WhiteheadA Treatise on Universal Algebra; An Introduction to Mathematics; Science and the Modern World; Process and Reality; The Aims of Education and Other Essays; Adventures of Ideas
  111. George SantayanaThe Life of Reason; Scepticism and Animal Faith; The Realms of Being (which discusses the Realms of Essence, Matter and Truth); Persons and Places
  112. Vladimir LeninImperialism; The State and Revolution
  113. Marcel ProustIn Search of Lost Time (formerly translated as Remembrance of Things Past)
  114. Bertrand RussellPrinciples of Mathematics; The Problems of Philosophy; Principia Mathematica; The Analysis of Mind; An Inquiry into Meaning and Truth; Human Knowledge, Its Scope and Limits
  115. Thomas MannThe Magic Mountain; Joseph and His Brothers
  116. Albert EinsteinThe Theory of Relativity; Sidelights on Relativity; The Meaning of Relativity; On the Method of Theoretical Physics; The Evolution of Physics
  117. James Joyce"The Dead" in Dubliners; A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man; Ulysses
  118. Jacques MaritainArt and Scholasticism; The Degrees of Knowledge; Freedom and the Modern World; A Preface to Metaphysics; The Rights of Man and Natural Law; True Humanism
  119. Franz KafkaThe Trial; The Castle
  120. Arnold J. ToynbeeA Study of History; Civilization on Trial
  121. Jean-Paul SartreNausea; No Exit; Being and Nothingness
  122. Aleksandr SolzhenitsynThe First Circle; Cancer Ward

The original edition of How to Read a Book contained a separate "contemporary list" because "Here one's judgment must be tentative". All but the following authors were incorporated into the single list of the revised edition:

  1. Ivan PavlovConditioned Reflexes
  2. Thorstein VeblenThe Theory of the Leisure Class; The Higher Learning in America; The Place of Science in Modern Civilization; Vested Interests and the State of Industrial Arts; Absentee Ownership and Business Enterprise in Recent Times
  3. Franz BoasThe Mind of Primitive Man; Anthropology and Modern Life
  4. Leon TrotskyThe History of the Russian Revolution


In 1954 Dr. Mortimer Adler hosted a live weekly television series in San Francisco, comprising 52 half-hour programs entitled The Great Ideas. These programs were produced by the Institute for Philosophical Research and were carried as a public service by the American Broadcasting Company, presented by (NET) National Educational Television, the precursor to what is now PBS. Dr. Adler bequeathed these films to the Center for the Study of the Great Ideas.

In 1993 and 1994, The Learning Channel created a series of one hour programs, discussing many of the great books of history and their impact on the world. It was narrated by Donald Sutherland and Morgan Freeman, amongst others.

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Beiser, Functional illiteracy, George Bell & Sons, George Wythe University, Glenn Kimber, Good Bad Books, Grapheme, Great Books Foundation, Great Books of the Western World, Great Books programs in Canada, Great Illustrated Classics, Guided reading, Gutenberg College, Hamlet, Hans Maeder, Harold Washington College, Harrison Middleton University, Harvard Classics, Herbert Ratner, Herbert Schneider, Heritage film, High culture, Higher education, Hillman Periodicals, Hillsdale College, Hippocrene Books, Historietter, History of Shimer College, How to Read a Book, Howard Alk, Humanities, Hyperlexia, If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat, Ignatius Press, In Secret, Independent reading, International Theological Institute, Irving Babbitt, Israel Arts and Science Academy, Jack Williamson, Jacques Barzun, Jake La Botz, Janet and John, Jerome Kristian, Joe Bevilacqua, John C. Wright (author), John Erskine (educator), John Wylde, José Aybar, Kathy Acker, Ken Friedman, Key Words Reading Scheme, Kitab Khana, Kolbe Academy, Legion of Space Series, Leo Strauss, Leon Kass, Leonora Christina Ulfeldt, Lexile, Liberal arts college, Liberal arts education, Liberal Arts, Inc., Liberal education, Lionel Casson, List of Amherst College people, List of children's classic books, List of Columbia College people, List of intellectuals of the Enlightenment, List of John Jay Award recipients, List of liberal arts colleges in the United States, List of Peep Show characters, List of phonics programs, List of Shimer College people, List of translators, List of writing genres, List of years in literature, Literacy, Literary fiction, Literary fiction, Literary influence of Hamlet, Literature circle, Lynda Caspe, Magdalen College of the Liberal Arts, Magdalen College of the Liberal Arts, Mammonart, Manga de Dokuha, Mark Miravalle, Mark Van Doren, Martin Gardner, Marvelous World, Mary Wings, Masterpiece, Max Weismann, Meadeau View Institute, Mia Park, Michael Laub, Miloš N. Đurić, Modern Library 100 Best Novels, Monterey Peninsula College, Morpheme, Mortimer J. Adler, Mount Morris College, Mustafa Güzelgöz, National Reading Panel, Neoclassical ballet, Neoclassicism, Neoclassicism, New Saint Andrews College, Nick DiMartino, Nicolae Paulescu, Non-abidance, Northfield School of the Liberal Arts, Notre Dame College of Arts and Letters, Novel, NYU Liberal Studies, Oakton Community College, On Liberty, OpenDyslexic, Order of the Star in the East, Orton-Gillingham, Otaku Girl, Outline of the humanities, Oxford World's Classics, Pacific Union College, Paraliterature, Parallel novel, Pastoral elegy, Pavle Arsoski, Penguin Classics, Peter V. Sampo, Philosophy of education, Phonemic awareness, Phonics, Phonological awareness, Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Main Title Design, Principles of Optics, Progress Publishers, Randolph Jackson, Readability, Reading comprehension, Reading disability, Reading for special needs, Reading readiness in the United States, Reading Recovery, Reading, Reciprocal teaching, Redd Griffin, Retranslation, Reza Shirmarz, Rhodes College, Robert H. Gray, Robert Maynard Hutchins, Ron Bruder, Russell Kirk, Saint Mary's College of California, Sally Watson, San Elijo College, Saru Bhakta, Scott Buchanan, Seattle Pacific University, Sepultura discography, Shalem College, Sheba Prokashoni, Shimer Great Books School, Sight word, Signum University, Simple view of reading, Slovene fiction, Slow reading, Smart Way Reading and Spelling, Speed reading, Spelling, St. John's College (Annapolis/Santa Fe), Stockbridge School, Stringfellow Barr, Structured Word Inquiry, Subvocalization, Success, Susan Henking, Susan Wise Bauer, Swedish literature, Synthetic phonics, Tales (video game), Teaching reading: whole language and phonics, Tempe Preparatory Academy, The Adventures of Pinocchio, The Closing of the American Mind, The Count of Monte Cristo, The Day the Dancers Came, The Franklin Mint, The History of Children's Literature in Iran, The Idea of Nationalism: A Study in Its Origins and Background, The King's College (New York City), The Moral Obligation to Be Intelligent, The New York Review of Books, The Serious Game, The Theory of Wages, The Unknown Soldier (novel), Thomas Aquinas College, Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences, Thomas Lindsay (academic), Thomas More College of Liberal Arts, Timeline of women's colleges in the United States, Townsend Harris High School, Travel literature, Tutorial, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas, University of King's College, University of Massachusetts Boston, Value and Capital, Varsity Show, Vexation and Venture, Viking Press, Viktor Zuckerkandl, Vladimir Lenin, Vocabulary, Western canon, Whole language, Wilbur Wright College, William Benton (politician), William Deresiewicz, William H. Doughty, William Kowalski, William T. Kirkpatrick, Winfield Myers, Wm. Theodore de Bary, Word recognition, Wordsworth Editions, Wyoming Catholic College, Young adult fiction

See also

The Battle of the Books, Quarrel of the Ancients and the Moderns

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