The Master Works of Western Civilization

A hypertext-annotated compilation of lists of major works recommended by Drs. Adler and Eliot, Charles Van Doren, Anthony Burgess, Clifton Fadiman, the Easton Press, and many others


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Several publishers, writers, and thinkers have drawn lists of the quintessential works of Western Civilization. This page presents several such lists along with links to the texts available on the Web.

The table below contains three of the lists. Other lists are collected below the table. Maybe someday I'll collate all these lists into a single table -- but you know how Web page work goes -- maybe I won't.

Dr. Mortimer Adler, who edited The Great Books of the Western World at the University of Chicago, believed that by reading his selections you would obtain a thorough liberal arts education.

For more information about books available on the Web and by FTP and gopher, see Carnegie-Mellon's On-Line Books, the service I used to generate many of the links on this page. collections of electronic texts. Project Gutenberg has blazed the path for making classic literature available electronically and they are responsible for many texts referenced here.

The Master Works of Western Civilization

Author The Great Books of the Western World The Easton Press Dr. Eliot
God, Moses, Jesus, Paul et alia The Bible
Homer (c. 850 B.C.E. ?) The Iliad and The Odyssey The Iliad and The Odyssey
Confucius (551-479 B.C.E.) Analects
Aeschylus (c. 525- c. 456 B.C.E.) Plays Plays
Sophocles (c. 496-c. 405 B.C.E.) plays, including: Oedipus Rex
Herodotus (c. 485-425 B.C.E.) The History
Euripides (480 or 484-406 B.C.E.) plays, including: plays (see list at left)
Thucydides (c. 460-c. 400 B.C.E.) The History of the Peloponesian War
Hippocrates (c. 460?-377 or 359 B.C.E.) works, including Aphorisms
Aristophanes (c. 448- c. 388 B.C.E.) plays, including The Birds and The Frogs
Plato (c. 427-c. 347 B.C.E.) works, including: The Republic and Symposium Apology, Crito, and Phaedo
Aristotle (384-322 B.C.E.) works, including: Politics
Euclid (taught c. 300 B.C.E.) The Elements
Archimedes (c. 287-212 B.C.E.) works
Apollonius of Perga (fl 250-220 B.C.E.) On Conic Sections
Cicero (106-43 B.C.E.) Letters
Nicomachus of Gerasa Introduction to Arithmetic
Lucretius (c. 99-55 B.C.E.) On the Nature of Things
Virgil (70-19 B.C.E.) The Ecologues, The Georgics, and The Aeneid The Aeneid The Aeneid
Livy (59 B.C.E.-17 C.E.) History of Early Rome
First through Fifth Centuries
Epictetus (c. 50-?) The Discourses Golden Sayings
Plutarch (c. 46-c. 120) The Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans The Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans
P. Cornelius Tacitus (c. 55-120) The Annals and The Histories
Pliny, the Younger (62-c. 114) Letters
Ptolemy (c. 90-168) The Almagest
Marcus Aurelius (121-180) The Meditations Meditations
Galen (c. 130-201) On the Natural Faculties
Plotinus (205-270) The Six Enneads
Saint Augustine (354-430) Confessions, The City of God, and On Christian Doctrine Confessions Confessions
Sixth through Tenth Centuries
Eleventh through Fourteenth Centuries
Omar Khayyam (c. 1050-c. 1123) The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam
Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) Summa Theologica
Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) The Divine Comedy The Divine Comedy The Divine Comedy
Boccaccio (1313-1375) The Decameron
Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1345-1400) The Canterbury Tales and Troilus and Cressida The Canterbury Tales The Canterbury Tales
Thomas à Kempis (1379-1471) The Imitation of Christ
Fifteenth Century
Nicolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) The Prince The Prince
Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres
Francois Rabelais (1494?-1553?) Gargantua and Pantagruel
Sixteenth Century
Michel Eyquem de Montaigne (1533-1592) Essays
William Gilbert (1540-1603) On the Loadstone and Magnetic Bodies
Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616) The History of Don Quixote de la Mancha The History of Don Quixote de la Mancha
Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626) Advancement of Learning, Novum Organum, and New Atlantis Essays New Atlantis and Essays
William Shakespeare (1564-1616) Works Works
Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593) Doctor Faustus
Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) Dialogues Concerning the Two New Sciences
Thomas Middleton (c. 1570-1627) The Changeling (see: The Plays of Thomas Middleton)
Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) Epitome of Copernican Astronomy and The Harmonies of the World
Ben Jonson (1572-1637) Volpone
John Donne (1572?-1631) Poems, including Devotions
William Harvey (1578-1657) On the Motion of the Heart and Blood in Animals, On the Circulation of the Blood, and On the Generation of Animals
John Webster (c. 1580-c. 1625) The Duchess of Malfi
Francis Beaumont (1584-1616) & John Fletcher (1579-1625) The Maid's Tragedy
Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) Leviathan
Izaak Walton (1593-1683) The Compleat Angler, The Life of John Donne, and The Life of George Herbert
Rene Descartes (1596-1650) Rules for the Direction of the Mind, Discourse on the Method, Meditations on First Philosophy, Objections Against the Meditations and Replies, and The Geometry
Seventeenth Century
Thomas Browne (1605-1682) Religio Medici
John Milton (1608-1674) minor poems, Paradise Lost, Samson Agonistes, and Areopagitica Paradise Lost Areopagitica and Tractate on Education
Moliere (1622-1673) Plays
Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) works, including: Pensees and Provincial Letters
John Bunyan (1628-1688) Pilgrim's Progress Pilgrim's Progress
Christiaan Huygens (1629-1693) Treatise on Light
John Dryden (1631-1700) All for Love
John Locke (1632-1704) essays, including
Benedict de Spinoza (1632-1677) Ethics
Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy and Optics
William Penn (1644-1718) Fruits of Solitude
Daniel Defoe (1660-1731) Journal of the Plague Year and Robinson Crusoe
Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) Gulliver's Travels Gulliver's Travels
George Berkeley (1685-1753) The Principles of Human Knowledge A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge
Charles de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu (1689-1755) The Spirit of Laws
Francois Marie Arouet de Voltaire (1694-1778) Candide
Eighteenth Century
Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
Henry Fielding (1707-1754) The History of Tom Jones, A Foundling The History of Tom Jones, A Foundling
David Hume (1711-1776) An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding
Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) A Discourse on the Origin of Inequality, A Discourse on Political Economy, and The Social Contract Confessions
Laurence Sterne (1713-1768) The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gent. The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gent.
Laurence Sterne (1713-1768) Tristam Shandy
John Woolmann (1720-1772) Journal of John Woolman
Adam Smith(1723-1790) An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations
Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) The Critique of Pure Reason, Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysic of Morals, and other works
Oliver Goldsmith (1728-1774) She Stoops to Conquer
Thomas Paine (1737-1809) Rights of Man
Edward Gibbon (1737-1794) The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
James Boswell (1740-1795) The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D.
Antoine Laurent Lavoisier (1743-1794) Elements of Chemistry
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) Faust Faust Faust
Alexander Hamilton(1757-1804), James Madison (1751-1836), and John Jay (1745-1829) The Federalist The Federalist
Robert Burns (1759-1796) Tam O'Shanter
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831) The Philosophy of Right and The Philosophy of History [Also: Phenomenology of Mind]
Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832) Ivanhoe and Talisman
Jean Baptiste Joseph Fourier (1772-1837) Analytical Theory of Heat
Jane Austen (1775-1817) Pride and Prejudice
American State Papers The Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation, and The Constitution
Washington Irving (1783-1859) Alhambra
Stendhal (1783-1842) Red and the Black
The Brothers Grimm (Jacob Ludwig Carl Grimm, 1785-1863, and Wilhelm Carl Grimm, 1786-1859) Grimm's Fairy Tales
James Fenimore Cooper (1789-1851) The Last of the Mohicans
Michael Faraday (1791-1867) Experimental Researches in Electricity
Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) The Cenci
John Keats (1795-1821) Poetical Works
Nineteenth Century
Alexandre Dumas (1802-1870) The Three Musketeers [Available on the Web is The Man in the Iron Mask.]
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) Essays Essays and English Traits
Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864) The Scarlet Letter
John Stuart Mill (1806-1873)
Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892) Becket
Charles Darwin (1809-1882) The Origin of Species [Also available on the Web is The Voyage of the Beagle.] The Origin of Species and The Descent of Man The Origin of Species
Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) Tales of Mystery and Imagination [See Selected Works of Poe.]
Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) Uncle Tom's Cabin Uncle Tom's Cabin
William M. Thackeray (1811-1863) Vanity Fair
Charles Dickens (1812-1870) David Copperfield, Great Expectations, Short Stories, and A Tale of Two Cities [Also available by Dickens on the Web are: A Christmas Carol, The Chimes, and The Cricket on the Hearth.]
Robert Browning (1812-1889) poems, several of which are in Dramatic Lyrics [Also see: Introduction to Robert Browning.] A Blot in the 'Scutcheon
Charlotte Bronte (1816-1855) Jane Eyre
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) Walden
Ivan Turgenev (1818-1883) Fathers and Sons
Emily Bronte (1818-1848) Wuthering Heights
Karl Marx (1818-1883) Capital
Karl Marx (1818-1883) and Friedrich Engels (1820-1895) Manifesto of the Communist Party
Walt Whitman (1819-1891) Leaves of Grass
George Eliot (1819-1880) The Mill on the Floss [Also available on the Web are Middlemarch: a study of provincial life and Silas Marner: The Weaver of Raveloe.]
Herman Melville (1819-1891) Moby Dick; or, the Whale Moby Dick; or, the Whale
Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867) Flowers of Evil
Gustave Flaubert (1821-1880) Madame Bovary
Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky (1821-1881) The Brothers Karamzov The Brothers Karamzov and Crime and Punishment
Count Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) War and Peace Anna Karenina and War and Peace
Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906) plays, including Peer Gynt and The Wild Duck
Jules Verne (1828-1905) Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea
Sir Richard Burton (1829-1890) Tales from the Arabian Nights Tales from the Arabian Nights
Lewis Carroll (1832-1898) Alice's Adventures in Wonderland [Also available on the Web are:
Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888) Little Women
Mark Twain (1835-1910) Huckleberry Finn
Samuel Butler (1835-1902) The Way of All Flesh
Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) Jude the Obscure and Return of the Native
William James (1842-1910) The Principles of Psychology
Henry James (1843-1916) Portrait of a Lady
Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Treasure Island
Guy de Maupassant (1850-1893) Tales
Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) Short Stories [Also available on the Web are The Importance of Being Earnest, The Picture of Dorian Gray, and Poems.]
Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) The Origin and Development of Psychoanalysis, Selected Papers on Hysteria, The Sexual Enlightenment of Children, The Future Prospects of Psychoanalytic Therapy, and other essays
George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) plays
Joseph Conrad (1857-1924) Heart of Darkness and Lord Jim [Also available on the Web are: The Secret Agent, The Secret Sharer, and The Shadow Line.]
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930) The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
Anton Chekkov (1860-1904) plays
Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) The Jungle Book
William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) poems
Stephen Crane (1871-1900) The Red Badge of Courage
Jack London (1876-1916) Sea Wolf
James Joyce (1882-1941) A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) Brave New World
Twentieth Century
John Steinbeck (1902-1968) Of Mice and Men

Other Reading Lists

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Great Links to and from This Page

  • Mercer University - Great Books Discussion Cafe
  • Great Books - University of Victoria, BC
  • The Western Canon and NEW Great Books Webring
  • Intellectual History is one of many web bibliographies in the Horus History Links
  • The Great Books page is the "somewhat official" page for the "Liberal Studies Great Books Program" at Malaspina University-College. Students get a BA in Liberal Studies from the University of Victoria after their 2 years in the Program (equivalent to 60% of their 3rd and 4th years at the College). The program is modelled on similar programs at Berkeley (1960's) and one now at St. John's College.
  • Rutgers's William Dowling's A Reading List for English Majors
  • Thomas L. Long vade mecum ::: "There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about."--O.F.O.W. Wilde
  • Cecelia Franco White's Best of the Web list
  • Shimer College Home Page

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