Harvard Classics Vs Great Books 2024: 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

Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc. published Great Books of the Western World in 1952 as a 54-volume set in the US.

The initial editors had three criteria for adding a book to the show attracted from Western Civilization: the book had to be relevant to present issues, not merely historical.

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

The novels weren’t selected based on cultural and ethnic inclusivity (historic effects being sufficient to contain) or whether the editors agreed with the writers’ views.

1990 saw a 60-volume edition. Six new books in the 20th century added vital features, improved translations, and deleted functions.

Great Books of the Western World

The Harvard Classics

Harvard University President Charles W. Eliot curated and compiled the 50-volume Harvard Classics, formerly known and sold as Dr. Eliot’s Five Foot Shelf of Books.

Eliot believed that reading this performance and following the 11 reading programs from Volume 50 would give a reader the benefits of a liberal education, enjoyment, and advice from history’s best creative minds at home.

Eliot and Harvard branding helped Harvard Classics’ first advertising success. The extra studying schedule and General Index with 76,000 subject references promised a liberal education to buyers of those sets.

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Harvard Classics Vs Great Books

For an anecdotal preface

The Great Books of the Western World (GBWW) emphasize science and philosophy, while the Harvard Classics (HC) emphasize liberal arts. This phrase assumes that I naturally prefer the GBWW. It’s hard.

I’ll also try to explain my reasoning so my preference doesn’t contradict my reasons.

Even the fiction in the GBWW has ideology. Mortimer Adler, the editor, was a philosopher and philosophical historian who wrote Aristotle for Everybody and other accessible books.

Let’s compare the collections’ differences. (The charts are based on bits chosen. I may reproduce these charts from various intriguing websites in the next sections. This is rather laborious for such a specific metric.

Please also let me categorize functions honestly. But many may not like that I rely on Machiavelli’s Prince among political perspectives instead of counting it as doctrine or twice counting such processes, which I specifically avoided (no sections were 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.

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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.

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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.