Paris Peace Accords 23 Oct. 1991

Monday, September 1, 2014

Welcome to The Harvard Classics / Dr. Eliot's Five Foot Shelf

Welcome to The Harvard Classics / Dr. Eliot's Five Foot Shelf

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. The most comprehensive and well-researched anthology of all time comprises both the 50-volume "5-foot shelf of books" and the the 20-volume Shelf of Fiction. Together they cover every major literary figure, philosopher, religion, folklore and historical subject through the twentieth century.  In 1910, Dr. Charles W. Eliot, then President of Harvard University, put together an extraordinary library of "all the books needed for a real education." 

"Dr.Charles W.Eliot, the former Harvard president who edited the series, maintained that if one read just 15 minutes a day from the 51 volumes he assembled, it would constitute "a good substitute for a liberal education to anyone who would read them with devotion."
The Editor's Introduction to the Harvard Classics
"My purpose in selecting- The Harvard Classics was to provide the literary materials from which a careful and persistent reader might gain a fair view of the progress of man observing , recording, inventing, and imagining from the earliest historical times to the close of the nineteenth century. Within the limits of fifty volumes, containing about 22,000 pages, I was to provide the means of obtaining such a knowledge of ancient and modern literature as seems essential to the twentieth century idea of a cultivated man. The best acquisition of a cultivated man is a liberal frame of mind or way of thinking; but there must be added to that possession acquaintance with the prodigious store of recorded discoveries, experiences, and reflections which humanity in its intermittent and irregular progress from barbarism to civilization has acquired and laid up. From that store I proposed to make such a selection as any intellectually ambitious American family might use to advantage, even if their early opportunities of education had been scanty." 

The purpose of The Harvard Classics is, therefore, one very different from that of the many collections in which the editor's aim has been to select the hundred or the fifty best books in the world; it is nothing less than the purpose to present so ample and characteristic a record of the stream of the world's thought that the observant reader's mind shall be enriched, refined, and fertilized by it.

1   Benjamin Franklin, John Woolman, William Penn
2   Plato, Epictecus, Marcus Aurelius
3   Bacon, Milton's Prose, Thomas Browne
4   Milton's Complete Poems in English
5   Emerson. Essays and English Traits
6   Burns. Poems and Songs
7   Saint Augustine, The Confessions. Thomas A Kempis, Imitation of Christ
8   Nine Greek Dramas
9   Letters and Treatises of Cicero and Pliny
10 Adam Smith. The Wealth of Nations
11 Darwin. The Origin of Species
12 Plutarch's Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans
13 Virgil's Aeneid
14 Cervantes. Don Quixote, Part I
15 Bunyan, The Pilgrim's Progress. Walton, Lives of Donne and Herbert.
16 The Thousand and One Nights
17 Folk-Lore and Fable: Aesop, Grimm, Anderson
18 Modern English Drama: Dryden, Sheridan, Goldsmith, Shelley, Browning, Byron
19 Goethe: Faust, Egmont, etc. Marlowe: Doctor Faustus
20 Dante. The Divine Comedy
21 Manzoni. I Promessi Sposi
22 Homer. The Odyssey
23 Dana. Two Years Before the Mast
24 Burke. On the Sublime; Reflections on the Revolution in France, etc.
25 J. S. Mill and Thomas Carlyle
26 Continental Drama
27 English Essays, Sidney to Macaulay
28 English and American Essays
29 Darwin. Voyage of the Beagle
30 Faraday, Helmholtz, Kelvin, Newcomb, etc. (Scientific Papers)
31 Cellini. Autobiography
32 Montaigne, Sainte-Beuve, Renan, etc.
33 Voyages and Travels
34 Descartes, Voltaire, Rousseau, Hobbes
35 Froissart, Malory, Holinshed
36 Machiavelli, More, Luther
37 Locke, Berkeley, Hume
38 Harvey, Jenner, Lister, Pasteur
39 Famous Prefaces
40 English Poetry, 1
41 English Poetry, 2
42 English Poetry, 3
43 American Historical Documents
44 Sacred Writings, 1
45 Sacred Writings, 2
46 Elizabethan Drama, 1
47 Elizabethan Drama, 2
48 Pascal. Thoughts and Minor Works
49 Epic and Saga
50 Introduction, Reader's Guide and Indexes
51 Lectures on The Harvard Classics

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