Please turn on javascript in your browser to play chess.
Culture Forum

Culture Forum

  1. 14 Feb '10 04:34
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harvard_Classics

    The Harvard Classics, originally known as Dr. Eliot's Five Foot Shelf, is a 51-volume anthology of classic works from world literature, compiled and edited by Harvard University president Charles W. Eliot and first published in 1909.

    Eliot had stated in speeches that the elements of a liberal education could be obtained by spending 15 minutes a day reading from a collection of books that could fit on a five-foot shelf. (Originally he had said a three-foot shelf.) The publisher P. F. Collier and Son saw an opportunity and challenged Eliot to make good on this statement by selecting an appropriate collection of works, and the Harvard Classics was the result.

    Eliot worked for one year with William A. Neilson, a professor of English; Eliot determined the works to be included and Neilson selected the specific editions and wrote introductory notes.[1] Each volume had 400-450 pages, and the included texts are "so far as possible, entire works or complete segments of the world's written legacies."[2] The collection was widely advertised by Collier and Son, in Collier's Magazine and elsewhere, with great success.

    ------------------------



    gutenberg.net, has e-versions and a description of the series:

    http://www.gutenberg.org/wiki/Harvard_Classics_(Bookshelf)


    wikipedia, has a description of the series:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harvard_Classics


    list of downloads optimized for mobile, like Kindle, etc.

    http://wiki.mobileread.com/wiki/Harvard_Classics_Available_at_MobileRead
  2. Standard member Seitse
    Doug Stanhope
    14 Feb '10 13:50
    Interesting. Thanks for sharing, Ronald.

    I will check the list and get back to you regarding if it is too Western and/or
    too Anglophile, or if it is truly liberal and comprehensive.
  3. 14 Feb '10 16:08
    Project Gutenburg is really a great site. Amazing the books and writings available for free.
  4. Standard member DrKF
    incipit parodia
    15 Feb '10 17:22 / 2 edits
    Interesting indeed - but Seitse, your worst fears are but a click away 😉

    It's interesting not least as a historical document: it's so clearly a product of its time and place, and a valuable record of academic mores and preferences dominant in the US, very specifically, at that time. It's parochial in extremis, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

    So I'm hesitant actually to criticise it in any real way - although having only Part 1 of Don Quixote strikes me as a mistake - the involution of Part 2 is really important - like an anachronistic fragment of Romanticism; and the absence of anything by either Marx or Freud was something of a shock.

    I suppose we should be talking about what we'd remove and add to bring it up to date...

    EDIT: thinking about the time it was first printed, I might be prepared to let him off with Freud, since he couldn't have known the impact Freud would have, or was already having. But Marx?
  5. Standard member Bosse de Nage
    Zellulärer Automat
    15 Feb '10 18:21
    Amusing that Franklin, Woolman and Penn come in before Plato, Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius.

    Baffled as to the inclusion of I Promessi Sposi.

    The medical selection hasn't kept very well.

    No Kant, I see 🙂
  6. Standard member Seitse
    Doug Stanhope
    16 Feb '10 06:51 / 1 edit
    Argh! I just checked it.

    DrKF is right, though, rather than condemning it we could say that the list
    could aspire to be a tool to understand the time and context in which it was
    produced.

    ...

    As for missing bits... there are a lot before it can be called liberal and
    comprehensive, indeed. But hey, after all Harvard is the employers' top
    pick for employees according to the (U.S. made) university rankings.
    We don't want employees to think for themselves too much, do we? 😉
  7. Standard member Bosse de Nage
    Zellulärer Automat
    16 Feb '10 08:02
    Originally posted by Seitse
    Argh! I just checked it.

    DrKF is right, though, rather than condemning it we could say that the list
    could aspire to be a tool to understand the time and context in which it was
    produced.
    When WASPS ruled the world.
  8. Standard member Palynka
    Upward Spiral
    16 Feb '10 10:03
    Meh, everyone's a critic. I'd like to see a list which is not clearly a product of its time and place. And that includes lists who try too hard not to.
  9. Standard member Seitse
    Doug Stanhope
    16 Feb '10 13:19 / 1 edit
    1. Critique of Pure Reason
    2. The Book of One Thousand and One Nights
    3. The Bible / On the Origin of the Species
    4. Pedro Páramo
    5. Tropic of Cancer / Tropic of Capricorn

    That's basically all you need to read*. The rest of one's life can
    be focused on life's ultimate existential motto: "disregard females,
    acquire currency".

    ---

    * Part I