Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Access the Great Books

A freaking great resource for anyone interested in the great books of Western Civilization, from Hammurabi to Annie Dillard.

From the ancient classics to the masterpieces of the 20th century, the Great Books are all the introduction you’ll ever need to the ideas, stories, and discoveries that have shaped modern civilization.

01: Hammurabi
(18th c. BCE) to John Milton (1608)
02: La Rochefoucauld
(1613) to Emily Bront√ę (1818)
03: Karl Marx
(1818) to Arthur Miller (1915)
04: Saul Bellow
(1915) to Annie Dillard (1945)

Access the Great Books is a compilation of over 240 great authors and their works.

The Access Foundation List
© is liberal in scope, robust in its cataloging, and voluminously linked to other sites that help readers access and study great literature. This list devotes notable attention to works of philosophy and science, and is unrivaled in its organizational structure, background, and biographical content on the authors listed.

ACCESS FOUNDATION holds that time spent reading the Great Books is time well spent. Great books lists are not meant to be exclusive of any tradition or culture, but rather form a foundation of knowledge on which to stand. Reading the great books allays the "busyness" of modern life; encourages self-examination, increases reflection, and provokes intellectual curiosity.

What follows is a list compiled by ACCESS FOUNDATION from a variety of sources, and based most notably from the one developed for the Great Books collection of the Encyclopædia Britannica by Robert M. Hutchins, Mortimer J. Adler, and Mark Van Doren. It is strongly recommended that the reader visit The Center for the Study of the Great Ideas for background on the ideas and formation of this list. To actively participate with others in a local discussion group, visit The Great Books Foundation, whose goal is "to build communities of readers who explore important ideas through enduring literature."

This great books list is liberally inclusive, though it contains few works of poetry. Poetry was often kept from the list in favor of prose and nonfiction. Titles are listed, except when the word "Works" is listed. This indicates that any or all of the author's works are recommended. Although not every author's work may be considered "great", we listed as many of each author's works that are worthy of your time. Finally, the list is ordered chronologically, then by the author's year of birth.

Currently agreed international copyright law prohibits public access to works until 70 years after the author's death. Soon this will exclude much of the great literature published after 1950 until well after the year 2050 or further. Access Foundation financially supports efforts to bring copyrighted works online in electronic format for inexpensive purchase. Authors on this list interested in this option, please contact Dr. Ridling for further information.

Finally, we wish to thank the scholarship of all the individuals, organizations, and universities who help make such a project worthy of their efforts. Their continued commitment to clarifying the complex ideas in literature and philosophy has helped us all over the years. We are grateful and proud to consociate ourselves with the Britannica Online, one of the finest and most complete online literary resources available.

- Zaine Ridling, PhD

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