The Great Books of the Western World (GBWW)

Note: Links have been added to each entry with a Listing. You can also see all Listings for the 1952 edition of the Great Books by clicking this label, and for the additions in 1990 by clicking this one. You may also use the search box on the right, or you can go to the Chronology page and use your browser's search function.

Also of interest: The Ten Year Reading Plan (Listings) based on the Great Books; and the Gateway to the Great Books (Listings), allegedly for younger readers.
Most of the lists on this page show the complete contents of the first (1952) edition of The Great Books of the Western World (GBWW), edited by Robert M. Hutchins and Mortimer J. Adler, both at that time with the University of Chicago. Wikipedia has the full list along with links to articles about many of The Great Books and their authors.

Changes made for the second edition (1990) can be seen below. And here's a complete comparison of the two sets (external link).

I've added the binding color for each volume of the 1952 edition. This tells you the basic category of the contents, according to this scheme:
  • Yellow: "Imaginative Literature" (including epic dramatic poetry, satires, and novels)
  • Blue: "History and Social Science" (including ethics, economics, politics, and jurisprudence)
  • Green: "Mathematics and the Natural Sciences" (including astronomy, physics, chemistry, biology, and psychology)
  • Red: Philosophy and Theology
(This is found in Volume 1, Hutchins's The Great Conversation, on page 156 in the reader, which is page 86 of the original volume).

I've also re-listed the volumes by color at the bottom of this page (with guesses about the 1990 volumes).

The Simple List (with colors and authors' names as found on the bindings)
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The Complete List (with titles of contents)

Volume 1: The Great Conversation

Volume 2: Syntopicon I

Volume 3: Syntopicon II

Volume 4:Homer
  • The Iliad
  • The Odyssey
Volume 5: Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes

  • The Suppliant Maidens
  • The Persians
  • Seven Against Thebes
  • Prometheus Bound
  • The Oresteia (Agamemnon, Choephoroe, The Eumenides)
  • The Oedipus Cycle (Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus, Antigone)
  • Ajax
  • Electra
  • The Trachiniae
  • Philoctetes
  • Rhesus
  • Medea
  • Hippolytus
  • Alcestis
  • Heracleidae
  • The Suppliants
  • Trojan Women
  • Ion
  • Helen
  • Andromache
  • Electra
  • Bacchantes
  • Hecuba
  • Heracles Mad
  • Phoenician Women
  • Orestes
  • Iphigeneia in Tauris
  • Iphigeneia at Aulis
  • Cyclops
  • The Acharnians
  • The Knights
  • The Clouds
  • The Wasps
  • Peace
  • The Birds
  • The Frogs
  • Lysistrata
  • Thesmophoriazusae
  • Ecclesiazousae
  • Plutus
Volume 6: Herodotus, Thucydides

  • The History
  • History of the Peloponnesian War
Volume 7: Plato
  • Charmides
  • Lysis
  • Laches
  • Protagoras
  • Euthydemus
  • Cratylus
  • Phaedrus
  • Ion
  • Symposium
  • Meno
  • Euthyphro
  • Apology
  • Crito
  • Phaedo
  • Gorgias
  • The Republic
  • Timaeus
  • Critias
  • Parmenides
  • Theaetetus
  • Sophist
  • Statesman
  • Philebus
  • Laws
  • The Seventh Letter
Volume 8: Aristotle I
  • Categories
  • On Interpretation
  • Prior Analytics
  • Posterior Analytics
  • Topics
  • Sophistical Refutations
  • Physics
  • On the Heavens
  • On Generation and Corruption
  • Meteorology
  • Metaphysics
  • On the Soul
  • Minor biological works
Volume 9: Aristotle II
  • History of Animals
  • Parts of Animals
  • On the Motion of Animals
  • On the Gait of Animals
  • On the Generation of Animals
  • Nicomachean Ethics
  • Politics
  • The Athenian Constitution
  • Rhetoric
  • Poetics
Volume 10: Hippocrates, Galen

  • Works
  • On the Natural Faculties
Volume 11: Euclid, Archimedes, Apollonius of Perga, Nicomachus

  • The Thirteen Books of Euclid's Elements
  • On the Sphere and Cylinder
  • Measurement of a Circle
  • On Conoids and Spheroids
  • On Spirals
  • On the Equilibrium of Planes
  • The Sand Reckoner
  • The Quadrature of the Parabola
  • On Floating Bodies
  • Book of Lemmas
  • The Method Treating of Mechanical Problems
Apollonius of Perga
  • On Conic Sections
Nicomachus of Gerasa
  • Introduction to Arithmetic
Volume 12: Lucretius, Epictetus, M[arcus] Aurelius

  • On the Nature of Things
  • The Discourses
Marcus Aurelius
  • The Meditations
Volume 13: Virgil
  • Eclogues
  • Georgics
  • Aeneid
Volume 14: Plutarch
  • The Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans
Volume 15: P. Cornelius Tacitus
  • The Annals
  • The Histories
Volume 16: Ptolemy, Copernicus, Kepler

  • Almagest, part 1
Nicolaus Copernicus
  • On the Revolutions of Heavenly Spheres
Johannes Kepler
  • Epitome of Copernican Astronomy (Books IV–V)
  • The Harmonies of the World (Book V)
Volume 17: Plotinus
  • The Six Enneads
Volume 18: Augustine of Hippo
  • The Confessions
  • The City of God
  • On Christian Doctrine
Volume 19: Thomas Aquinas I
  • Summa Theologica I (complete) & II (selections)
Volume 20: Thomas Aquinas II
  • Summa Theologica II & III (selections)
Volume 21: Dante Alighieri
  • The Divine Comedy
Volume 22: Geoffrey Chaucer
  • Troilus and Criseyde
  • The Canterbury Tales
Volume 23: Machiavelli, Hobbes

Niccolò Machiavelli
  • The Prince
Thomas Hobbes
  • Leviathan
Volume 24: François Rabelais
  • Gargantua and Pantagruel
Volume 25: Michel Eyquem de Montaigne
  • Essays
Volume 26: William Shakespeare I
  • The First Part of King Henry the Sixth
  • The Second Part of King Henry the Sixth
  • The Third Part of King Henry the Sixth
  • The Tragedy of Richard the Third
  • The Comedy of Errors
  • Titus Andronicus
  • The Taming of the Shrew
  • The Two Gentlemen of Verona
  • Love's Labour's Lost
  • Romeo and Juliet
  • The Tragedy of King Richard the Second
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream
  • The Life and Death of King John
  • The Merchant of Venice
  • The First Part of King Henry the Fourth
  • The Second Part of King Henry the Fourth
  • Much Ado About Nothing
  • The Life of King Henry the Fifth
  • Julius Caesar
  • As You Like It
Volume 27: William Shakespeare II
  • Twelfth Night; or, What You Will
  • The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark
  • The Merry Wives of Windsor
  • Troilus and Cressida
  • All's Well That Ends Well
  • Measure for Measure
  • Othello, the Moor of Venice
  • King Lear
  • Macbeth
  • Antony and Cleopatra
  • Coriolanus
  • Timon of Athens
  • Pericles, Prince of Tyre
  • Cymbeline
  • The Winter's Tale
  • The Tempest
  • The Famous History of the Life of King Henry the Eighth
  • Sonnets
Volume 28: Gilbert, Galileo, Harvey

William Gilbert
  • On the Loadstone and Magnetic Bodies
Galileo Galilei
  • Dialogues Concerning the Two New Sciences
William Harvey
  • On the Motion of the Heart and Blood in Animals
  • On the Circulation of Blood
  • On the Generation of Animals
Volume 29: Miguel de Cervantes
  • The History of Don Quixote de la Mancha
Volume 30: Sir Francis Bacon
  • The Advancement of Learning
  • Novum Organum
  • New Atlantis
Volume 31: Descartes, Spinoza

René Descartes
  • Rules for the Direction of the Mind
  • Discourse on the Method
  • Meditations on First Philosophy
  • Objections Against the Meditations and Replies
  • The Geometry
Benedict de Spinoza
  • Ethics
Volume 32: John Milton
  • English Minor Poems
  • Paradise Lost
  • Samson Agonistes
  • Areopagitica
Volume 33: Blaise Pascal
  • The Provincial Letters
  • Pensées
  • Scientific and mathematical essays
Volume 34: Newton, Huygens

Sir Isaac Newton
  • Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy
  • Optics
Christian Huygens
  • Treatise on Light
Volume 35: Locke, Berkeley, Hume

John Locke
  • A Letter Concerning Toleration
  • Concerning Civil Government, Second Essay
  • An Essay Concerning Human Understanding
George Berkeley
  • The Principles of Human Knowledge
David Hume
  • An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding
Volume 36: Swift, Sterne

Jonathan Swift
  • Gulliver's Travels
Laurence Sterne
  • The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman
Volume 37: Henry Fielding
  • The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling
Volume 38: Montesquieu, Rousseau

Charles de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu
  • The Spirit of the Laws
Jean Jacques Rousseau
  • A Discourse on the Origin of Inequality
  • A Discourse on Political Economy
  • The Social Contract
Volume 39: Adam Smith
  • An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations
Volume 40: Edward Gibbon I
  • The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (Part 1)
Volume 41: Edward Gibbon II
  • The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (Part 2)
Volume 42: Immanuel Kant
  • Critique of Pure Reason
  • Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysic of Morals
  • Critique of Practical Reason
  • Excerpts from The Metaphysics of Morals ("Preface and Introduction to the Metaphysical Elements of Ethics with a note on Conscience"; "General Introduction to the Metaphysic of Morals"; "The Science of Right")
  • The Critique of Judgement
Volume 43: American State Papers, Federalist, J. S. Mill

American State Papers
Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, John Jay
  • The Federalist
John Stuart Mill
  • On Liberty
  • Considerations on Representative Government
  • Utilitarianism
Volume 44: James Boswell
Volume 45: Lavoisier, Fourier, Faraday

Antoine Laurent Lavoisier
  • Elements of Chemistry
Jean Baptiste Joseph Fourier
  • Analytical Theory of Heat
Michael Faraday
  • Experimental Researches in Electricity
Volume 46: Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
  • The Philosophy of Right
  • The Philosophy of History
Volume 47: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  • Faust
Volume 48: Herman Melville
  • Moby Dick; or, The Whale
Volume 49: Charles Darwin
  • The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection
  • The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex
Volume 50: Karl Marx
Volume 51: Count Leo Tolstoy
  • War and Peace
Volume 52: Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky
  • The Brothers Karamazov
Volume 53: William James
  • The Principles of Psychology
Volume 54: Sigmund Freud
  • The Origin and Development of Psycho-Analysis
  • Selected Papers on Hysteria
  • The Sexual Enlightenment of Children
  • The Future Prospects of Psycho-Analytic Therapy
  • Observations on "Wild" Psycho-Analysis
  • The Interpretation of Dreams
  • On Narcissism
  • Instincts and Their Vicissitudes
  • Repression
  • The Unconscious
  • A General Introduction to Psycho-Analysis
  • Beyond the Pleasure Principle
  • Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego
  • The Ego and the Id
  • Inhibitions, Symptoms, and Anxiety
  • Thoughts for the Times on War and Death
  • Civilization and Its Discontents
  • New Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis

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The 1990 Revisions to the Great Books of the Western World

In 1990, the publishers of the 1952 edition of The Great Books of the Western World produced an revised version. This included some updated translations, substantial additions (mostly from the 20th century), and the deletion of some older works, including:
In addition, most volumes--though identical to those of the older version--were renumbered. And some contents were moved from one volume to another.

Wikipedia has the full list, with links to articles about many of The Great Books and their authors. And a complete comparison of the two sets can be found here.

Listed first are are the materials added from before the 20th century, with their 1990 volume numbers (according to the Wikipedia article):

Volume 20 John Calvin:
  • Institutes of the Christian Religion (Selections)
Volume 23 Erasmus:
  • The Praise of Folly
Volume 31: Molière, Racine

  • The School for Wives
  • The Critique of the School for Wives
  • Tartuffe
  • Don Juan
  • The Miser
  • The Would-Be Gentleman
  • The Imaginary Invalid
Jean Racine
  • Bérénice
  • Phèdre
Volume 34: Voltaire, Diderot
Volume 43: Kierkegaard, Nietzsche
Volume 44 Alexis de Tocqueville:
  • Democracy in America
Volume 45 Honoré de Balzac:
  • Cousin Bette
Volume 46: Austen, George Eliot
Volume 47 Charles Dickens:
  • Little Dorrit
Volume 48 Mark Twain:
  • Huckleberry Finn
Volume 52 Henrik Ibsen:
  • A Doll's House
  • The Wild Duck
  • Hedda Gabler
  • The Master Builder
And here are the six additional volumes containing 20th-century materials. I have taken the liberty of adding a likely topic to the heading for each volume.

Volume 55 (Philosophy and Theology)
Volume 56 (Science and Mathematics)
Volume 57 (Economics)
Volume 58 (Social Sciences)
Volume 59 (Imaginative Literature I)
Volume 60 (Imaginative Literature II)

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The 1952 List by Bindings' Colors

The publishers of the GBWW have cleverly color-coded the bindings of each volume to indicate the nature of that volume's contents. The code is:
  • Yellow: Imaginative Literature" (including epic dramatic poetry, satires, and novels) = Volumes 4, 5, 13, 21, 22, 24, 26, 27, 29, 32, 36, 37, 47, 48, 51, 52
  • Blue: "History and Social Science" (including ethics, economics, politics, and jurisprudence) = Volumes 6, 14, 15, 23, 25, 38, 39, 40, 41, 43, 44, 50
  • Green: "Mathematics and the Natural Sciences" (including astronomy, physics, chemistry, biology, and psychology) = Volumes 10, 11, 16, 28, 34, 45, 49, 53, 54
  • Red: Philosophy and Theology = Volumes 7, 8, 9, 12, 17, 18, 19, 20, 30, 31, 33, 35, 42, 46
YELLOW (Imaginative Literature):
BLUE (History and Social Science):
GREEN (Mathematics and the Natural Sciences):
RED (Philosophy and Theology):
I'm only guessing, as I don't own the set, but from pictures it appears that the 1990 set also follows this scheme. I would guess that they go like this:

  • Yellow: "Imaginative Literature" = Volumes 59 & 60
  • Blue: "History and Social Science" = Volumes 57 & 58
  • Green: "Mathematics and the Natural Sciences" = Volume 56
  • Red: Philosophy and Theology = Volume 55

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