Harvard Classics Vs Great Books 2023: Which Is Better?

Harvard Classics Vs Great Books

Possibly the best known classic book anthology of the 20th century has been the Harvard Classics. The fantastic Books of the Western World cover fiction, history, poetry, natural science, math, philosophy, drama, politics, religion, economics, and integrity. Harvard classics vs great books: What is the difference? Reading to find out more.

Great Books Of The Western World

Great Books of the Western World is a series of books originally published in the USA in 1952 by Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., to exhibit the Great Books in a 54 volume set.

The original editors had three criteria for adding a book in the show attracted from Western Civilization: that the book should have been pertinent to modern matters, rather than just crucial in its historical context.

It has to be rewarding to re-read differently about liberal schooling; and it has to be part of the fantastic conversation about the fantastic thoughts, applicable to 25 of those 102 Great Ideas as identified from the editor of this series’ comprehensive indicator, what they dubbed the Syntopicon, to which they belonged.

The books weren’t chosen based on cultural and ethnic inclusiveness (historic consequences being viewed as adequate by itself to be contained), nor whether the editors agreed with the viewpoints expressed by the writers.

Another edition was printed in 1990 in 60 volumes. Some translations were upgraded, some functions were eliminated, and there have been essential additions in the 20th century found in six new, different books.

Great Books of the Western World

The Harvard Classics

The Harvard Classics, known initially and advertised since Dr. Eliot’s Five Foot Shelf of Books, is a 50-volume set of classic works in world literature, necessary addresses, and historic records edited and compiled by Harvard University President Charles W. Eliot.

Eliot considered that a careful reading of this show and following the contained 11 reading programs from Volume 50 would provide a reader, at the comfort of home, the advantages of a liberal education, amusement, and adviser of history’s most OK creative thoughts.

The first advertising success of this Harvard Classics was due, in part, to the branding provided by Eliot and Harvard University. Buyers of those sets were drawn to the claims that reading the books would provide a liberal education by following the added studying program and employing the General Index containing 76,000 subject references.

Harvard Classics Vs Great Books

For an anecdotal preface

There’s a significant and apparent dichotomy between the Harvard Classics (HC) and the Great Books of the Western World (GBWW), and it may be summed up thus: science and philosophy (GBWW) versus liberal arts (HC). In this saying, it needs to be assumed by the reader that I have a natural tendency to prefer the GBWW. However, it isn’t so easy.

Furthermore, I’ll do my very best to maintain my rationale out in the open, so my preference stands in contradistinction to my motives, wherever applicable.

The GBWW is wholly laced with doctrine, even at the fiction selected, shouldn’t surprise. The editor, Mortimer Adler, was a philosopher and historian of philosophy, and he composed many highly accessible books, for example, Aristotle for Everybody.

Let us take inventory of a couple of differences between the collections. (Please be aware that the charts are based on amounts by bits chosen. In a few of the following components, I might reproduce these charts by several exciting web pages. I don’t do this here due to the labors involved, so particular a metric.

Additionally, please hold some quibbles on where I categorized specific functions because I have attempted to be honest. But many may not like that I rely on Machiavelli’s Prince among political positions, instead of counting it as doctrine or twice counting such processes, which I explicitly avoided; no parts have been double counted in the following data.)

For charts


charts 2

The bar charts note the stage mentioned above of a proportional disparity between the doctrine and science/mathematics from the GBWW versus the amount from the HC.

The extra point meted out from the bar charts is the GBWW put quite a lot of focus on theater. However, I must interject; these are mainly Greek plays that can be philosophical. One discovers no similar disposition to add non-Greek sports.

The pie charts are extremely telling, also. The remainder of this HC is to be mentioned. It’s also worth pointing out that GBWW’s science (9 percent), doctrine (27 percent), and math (5 percent) constitute 51 percent of those selections for the group, whereas those classes only include 21 percent of the HC. The more fine arts HC’s 50% composition by choice trumps GBWW’s 42% when you look at fiction, theater, poetry, and essays.

The following is a listing of overlaps between the Harvard Classics and the Great Books of the Western World. Coup d’oeil, the list might look important; however, the overlap between the variations is minuscule.

  • Odyssey by Homer
  • The Oresteia (3 plays) by Aeschylus
  • Prometheus Bound by Aeschylus
  • Antigone by Sophocles
  • Oedipus Rex by Sophocles
  • Hippolytus by Euripides
  • The Bacchae by Euripides
  • Frogs by Aristophanes
  • Histories (excerpt in HC) by Herodotus
  • Apology by Plato
  • Phaedo by Plato
  • Crito by Plato
  • The Oath of Hippocrates by Hippocrates
  • The Golden Sayings by Epictetus
  • Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
  • Aneid by Virgil
  • Lives by Plutarch
  • The Histories is Germany of Tacitus
  • The Confessions by Augustine
  • The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri
  • The Prince by Machiavelli
  • Leviathan (excerpt only in HC) by Hobbes
  • Essays (partial overlap) by Montaigne
  • Hamlet by Shakespeare
  • Macbeth by Shakespeare
  • The Tempest by Shakespeare
  • King Lear by Shakespeare
  • On the Motion of Heart and Blood in Animals by Harvey
  • Don Quixote (Part 1 only in HC)
  • Essays, Civil and Moral by Bacon
  • New Atlantis by Bacon
  • Discourse on Method by Descartes
  • Areopagitica by John Milton
  • Paradise Lost by John Milton
  • Pensées by Pascal
  • An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding by Hume
  • On the Origin of Inequality by Rousseau
  • Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith
  • Groundwork for a Metaphysics of Morals (excerpt in GBWW) by Kant
  • The Federalist by Hamilton, Jay, and Madison
  • Faust (Part I only in HC) by Goethe
  • The Origin of Species by Darwin
  • Tartuffe by Molière
  • Phèdre by Racine

Harvard Classics


Are the Harvard Classics valuable?

The Harvard Classics collection The Five Foot Shelf of Books is not scarce, though some sets are often very pricey. The Harvard Classics The Five Foot Shelf of Books, Volumes 1-50, Copyright 1909, P.F. Collier & Sons author.

What is included in the Harvard Classics?

The amounts are (1) Franklin, Woolman, Penn (2) Plato, Epictetus, Marcus, Aurelius (3) Bacon, Milton’s Prose, Thomas Browne (4) Complete Poems in English: Milton (5) Essays and English Traits: Emerson (6) Poems and Songs: Burns (7) Confessions of St.

How long does it take to read the great books of the Western world?

616 hours and 40 minutes

The ordinary reader will spend 616 hours and 40 minutes studying this book at 250 WPM (words per minute).

How many Harvard classics are there?

113 books

How can you receive a Harvard level instruction in 15 minutes per day or not?

Eliot declared the components of liberal education can be obtained in one year by spending 15 minutes per day studying from this selection of books that allegedly could match a five foot shelf. The books span upon the world regarding the content and the writers who write them.


There is no clear winner when comparing Harvard Classics vs Great Books. Both have their pros and cons. Harvard Classics has a more diverse range of topics, while Great Books has a more focused selection. Ultimately, it depends on the reader’s preferences regarding which is better.

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