- Hardcover: 37000 pages
- Publisher: Encyclopedia Britannica, Incorporated; 2nd edition (1990)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0852295316
- ISBN-13: 978-0852295311
- Product Dimensions: 14 x 17.5 x 17.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 102 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 53 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #523,099 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Great Books of the Western World 2nd Edition
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There is no better way to own and appreciate the world's greatest written works. Great Books of the Western World is one of the most acclaimed publishing feats of our time. Authoritative, accurate, and complete, this collection represents the essential core of the Western literary canon, compiling 517 of the most significant achievements in literature, history, philosophy, and science into a color-coded set as handsome as it is affordable. From the ancient classics to the newest masterpieces of the 20th century, Great Books traces the ideas, stories, and discoveries that have shaped modern civilization. Volumes 1 and 2 of this collection is the Syntopicon, a unique two-volume guide (not sold separately) that enables you to investigate a particular idea and compare what different authors have to say about it. The Syntopicon comprises a new kind of reference work -- accomplishing for ideas what the dictionary accomplishes for words and the encyclopaedia accomplishes for facts. Also included is the Great Conversation, featuring fascinating background information, extensive timelines, photos, and quotes from the classic works and their authors. 60 volumes Individual Volume Size: 9 1/2" H x 1"-2" W (Across Spine) x 6 1/2" D Overall Width of Set: 65"(5'5") Special colors on the Great Books' spines guide you quickly to the four subject areas -
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Top customer reviews
The book pages are thin and somewhat flimsy. I owned a set of the 54-volume cloth-bound first (1952) edition and the bookcase which came with them. I still have the bookcase and put this 60-volume set in it. The 60 volumes of this second edition take up much less shelf space than the 54-volume set. That's how much thinner is the paper on which the books are now printed.
The covers of the books feel like they are made of some kind of paper board. They just feel cheap in in my hands.
In short, you might want the set for its content, but don't expect a production quality reflective its intrinsic value.
The general organization of The Great Books is by date written, but there are so many cross-references of the "great ideas" and "great authors" that you can find any subject, idea or author by using the Syntopicon as your guide. Adler and the editors have narrowed what they consider the great ideas of western civilization down to 102. Astonishing, when you consider the writing and authors span about 2800 years of western thought.
The readings include virtually all of the subjects considered the liberal arts: literature of all kinds; philosophy and theology; mathematics and the natural sciences; history, biography and the social sciences; and economics, sociology and anthropology. If you're not in a college program that uses the Great Books in their curriculum, Adler provides a ten year reading plan for the books in "The Great Conversation." Again, not for the faint of heart, but I guarantee if you manage to get through all 60 books you will truly be educated.
As an FYI, I'm currently in what seems to be the sole graduate program in the country that uses only the Great Books in their curriculum. It is also a distance-learning program and uses the Socratic method for discussions, which are held by telephone with tutors (what teachers or professors are usually called when using this method of inquiry and discussion). Check out my Amazon profile for some details.
These criticisms may well be valid and I do not really care as they do not in any way detract, for me and many others.
Any one who thinks these are not some of, if not most of, the Great Books of the Western World has some serious explaining to do to me :)