Only by the form, the pattern,
Can words or music reach
The stillness, as a Chinese jar still
Moves perpetually in its stillness.
T. S. Eliot
Four Quartets
Briunt Norton

Monday, November 2, 2009

A Long, Very Inclusive Great Books List from East and West

A good list.

The Ancient Era

2000 BCE - 8BCE

Unknown, Sumer, ca. 2000 BCE. The Epic of Gilgamesh.
Unknown, Egypt, ca. 1000 BCE. Egyptian Book of the Dead.
Homer, Greece, ca. 800 BCE. The Iliad, The Odyssey.
Hesiod, Greece, ca. 700 BCE. Theogony.
Unknown, Israel, ca. 800-200 BCE.Genesis, Exodus, Isaiah, Job.
Unknown, India, ca. 800 BCE. The Rig Veda.
Unknown, India, ca. 600 BCE. The Upanishads.
Confucius, China, 551-479 BCE. The Analects.
Lao Tzu, China, ca. 550 BCE. The Tao Te Ching.
Sappho, Greece, ca. 600 BCE. Hymn to Aphrodite.
Aeschylus, Greece, 525-455 BCE. Agamemnon, Libation Bearers, Eumenides.
Sophocles, Greece, 496-406 BCE. Oedipus Rex, Oedipus at Colonus, Antigone.
Herodotus, Greece, 484-425 BCE. The Histories.
Euripides, Greece, 484-406 BCE. Medea, Electra.
Thucydides, Greece, 470-400 BCE. The Peloponnesian War.
Aristophanes, Greece, 448-338 BCE. The Birds, Lysistrata.
Plato, Greece, 428-348 BCE. The Apology of Socrates, The Republic
Aristotle, Greece, 332 BCE. The Nicomachean Ethics.
Sun-Tzu, China, ca. 500 BCE. The Art of War.
Mencius, China, ca.320 BCE. The Mengzi.
Various, India, ca. 400 BCE. The Teachings of The Buddha.
Chuang Tzu, ca. 300 BCE. The Chuang Tzu.
Valmiki, India, ca. 300 BCE. The Ramayana.
Vyasa, ca. India, 200 BCE. The Mahabharata.
Unknown, ca India, 200 BCE. The Bhagavad Gita.
Lucretius, Rome, 60 BCE. Of the Nature of Things.
Julius Caesar, Rome, 50 BCE. Commentaries on the Gallic War.
Cicero, Rome, 45 BCE. On the Nature of the Gods.
Virgil, Rome, 19 BCE. The Aeneid.
Ovid, Rome, 8 BCE. Metamorphoses.

The Middle Era

6 AD - 1485

Petronius Arbiter, Rome, 61. The Satyricon.
Seneca, Rome 49. On the Shortness of Life.
Luke, John, Paul. Israel, ca. 60-80. The Gospel, The Acts, Epistles, Romans.
Plutarch, Greece, 100. Life of Alexander, Life of Cato.
Suetonius, Rome, 119. The Twelve Caesars.
Marcus Aurelius, Rome, 180. Meditations.
Apuleius, Numidia, 160. The Golden Ass.
Augustine of Hippo, Rome, 410. The City of God.
Kalidasa, India, ca. 410. The Cloud Messenger.
Unknown, Japan, 630. The Kojiki
Muhammad of Medina, Arabia, 632. The Koran.
Hui-Neng, China, ca 700. The Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch
Sei Shonagon,Japan, 990.The Pillow Book.
Murasaki Shikubu, Japan, ca. 990.The Tale of Genji.
Unknown, Baghdad, 950. The Thousand and One Nights
Ben Hasan Firdawsi, Persia, ca 1000. Shah Nameh.
Omar Khayyam, Persia, ca 1100. The Rubaiyat.
Unknown, England, ca. 1000. Beowulf.
Unknown, Wales, ca. 1150. The Mabinogion.
Snori Sturluson, Iceland, 1220. The Prose Edda.
Unknown, Austria, ca 1210. Niebelungenlied.
St. Thomas Aquinas, Italy, 1273. Summa Theologica.
Dante Alighieri, Italy, 1321. The Divine Comedy.
Giovanni Boccaccio, Italy, 1352. The Decameron.
Ibn Khaldun, Tunis, 1375. Muqaddimah.
Luo Kuan-chung, China, ca. 1380. The Romance of the Three Kingdoms.
Shin Nai-an, China, 1390. The Water Margin.
Geoffrey Chaucer, England, 1395. The Canterbury Tales.
Unknown, England, ca 1400. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Thomas Malory, England, 1485. Le Morte D’Arthur.

The Era of Reformation and Renaissance

1418 - 1750

Thomas a Kempis, Germany, 1418. The Imitation of Christ.
Niccolo Macchiavelli, Italy, 1513. The Prince.
Thomas More, England, 1516. Utopia.
Francois Rabelais. France, 1532. Gargantua and Pantagruel.
Michel Eyquem de Montaigne, France, 1580. Essays.
Christopher Marlow, England, 1587. Tamburlaine.
Wu Cheng-en, China, 1590. The Journey to the West.
Francis Bacon, England, 1597. Essays.
Miguel de Cervantes, Spain, 1605. Don Quixote.
William Shakespeare, England, 1601-1613. Richard III, Hamlet, The Tempest.
John Donne, England, 1633. Poems.
Rene Descartes, France, 1637. Discourse on Method.
Pedro Calderon de la Barca, Spain, 1636. Life is a Dream.
Thomas Hobbes, England, 1651. Leviathan.
John Milton, England, 1667. Paradise Lost.
Moliere, France, 1666. Tartuffe, Misanthrope.
Racine, France, 1667, Andromache.
John Bunyan, England, 1678. Pilgrim’s Progress.
Basho, Japan, 1702. The Narrow Road to the Deep North.
Blaise Pascal, France, 1623-1662. Pensees.
John Locke, England, 1690. Second Treatise on Government.
Samuel Pepys, England, 1669. Diary.
Daniel Defoe, England, 1660-1731. Robinson Crusoe.
Bishop Berkley, Ireland, 1710. Principles of Human Knowledge.
Alexander Pope, England, 1714. The Rape of the Lock
Jonathan Swift, Ireland, 1735. Gulliver’s Travels.
Voltaire, France, 1759 Candide.
David Hume, Scotland, 1740. Concerning Human Understanding.
Henry Fielding, England, 1749. Tom Jones.
Ts’ao Hsueh-Chin, China, 1750. The Dream of the Red Chamber.

The Era of Romance and Revolution

1762 - 1859

Jean Jacques Rousseau, France, 1762. The Social Contract.
Adam Smith, Scotland, 1776. Concerning the Wealth of Nations.
Immanuel Kant, Germany, 1785. Groundwork on the Metaphysics of Morals
Hamilton, Madison and Jay, US, 1786. The Federalist Papers.
Edmund Burke, Ireland, 1790. Reflections on the French Revolution.
Thomas Paine, England, 1791. The Rights of Man.
Mary Wollstonecraft, England, 1792. Vindication on the Rights of Women.
James Boswell, England. 1791. The Life of Samuel Johnson.
William Blake, England, 1794. Songs of Innocence, Songs of Experience.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Germany, 1808. Faust.
George Fredrick Hegel, Germany, 1807. Phenomenology of Mind.
Shelley, Byron, Wordsworth, Coleridge and Keats, England, 1812-1818. Poems.
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, England, 1818. Frankenstein.
Stendhal, France, 1830. The Red and the Black.
Alexis de Tocqueville, France, 1835. Democracy in America.
Alexandre Pushkin, Russia, 1837. Eugene Onegin
Jane Austen, England, 1837. Pride and Prejudice.
Edgar Allen Poe, US, 1839. Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque.
Nikolai Gogol, Russia, 1842. Dead Souls.
Soren Kierkegaard, Denmark, 1843. Fear and Trembling.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, US. 1847. Poems.
Charlotte Bronte, England, 1847. Jane Eyre.
William Makepeace Thackeray, England, 1848. Vanity Fair.
Karl Marx, Frederick Engels. 1848. The Communist Manifesto.
Herman Melville, US, 1851. Moby Dick.
Walt Whitman, US, 1855. Leaves of Grass.
Henry David Thoreau, US, 1854. Walden.
Charles Baudelaire, France, 1857. Le Fleurs de Mal.
Gustave Flaubert, France 1856. Madam Bovary.
John Stuart Mill, England, 1859. On Liberty.

The Modern Era

1861 - 1929

Charles Dickens, England, 1861. Great Expectations.
Ivan Turgenev, Russia, 1862. Fathers and Sons.
Feodor Dostoevskii, Russia, 1866. Crime and Punishment.
George Eliot, England, 1871. Middlemarch.
Arthur Rimbaud, France, 1873, A Season in Hell.
Leo Tolstoi, Russia, 1877. Anna Karenina.
Frederick Nietzsche, Germany, 1880. Al Sprake Zarathustra.
Mark Twain, US. 1884. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
Emil Zola, France, 1885. Germinal.
Henrik Ibsen, Norway, 1890. Hedda Gabler.
Emily Dickenson, US, 1890. Poems.
Thomas Hardy, England, 1895. Jude the Obscure.
Anton Chekhov, Russia, 1898. Uncle Vanya.
Joseph Conrad, England, 1902. Heart of Darkness.
William James, Us, 1902. Varieties of Religious Experience.
Max Weber, Germany, 1904. The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.
Marcel Proust, France, 1913. Swann’s Way.
DH Lawrence, England, 1913 Sons and Lovers.
Natsume Soseki, Japan, 1914. Kokoro.
WB Yeats, Ireland, 1917. The Swans at Coole.
Siegfried Sassoon, England, 1919. War Poems.
TS Eliot, US, 1921. The Waste Land.
James Joyce, Ireland, 1922. Ulysses.
Thomas Mann, Germany, 1924. The Magic Mountain.
F Scott FitzGerald, US, 1925. The Great Gatsby.
Franz Kafka, Czechoslovakia, 1925. The Trial.
Martin Heidegger, Germany, 1927. Being and Time.
Virginia Woolf, England, 1927. Mrs. Dalloway.
Berthold Brecht, Germany, 1928. The Threepenny Opera.
William Faulkner, US, 1929. The Sound and the Fury.

The Global Era


Mohandas Gandhi, India, 1928. My Experiments with Truth.
Aldous Huxley, England, 1932. Brave New World.
Kawabata Yusunari, Japan, 1934. Snow Country.
RK Narayan, India, 1935. The English Teacher.
Graham Greene, England, 1940. The Power and the Glory.
Arthur Koestler, Hungary, 1941. Darkness at Noon.
Eugene O’Neill, US, 1941. Long Days’ Journey into Night.
Junichio Tanizaki, Japan, 1943. The Makioka Sisters
Albert Camus, Algeria, 1943. The Stranger.
Jean Paul Sartre, France, 1943. Being and Nothingness.
Karl Popper, Austria, 1945. The Open Society and Its Enemies.
Simone De Beauviour, France, 1949. The Second Sex.
Ernest Hemmingway, US, 1953. The Old Man and the Sea.
George Orwell, England, 1948. Nineteen Eighty Four.
Ralph Ellison, US, 1952. The Invisible Man.
Samuel Becket, Ireland, 1952. Waiting for Godot.
Vladimir Nabokov, Russia, 1955. Lolita.
Allan Ginsburg, US, 1956. Howl.
Jack Kerouac, US, 1957. On the Road.
Chinua Achebe, Nigeria, 1958. Things Fall Apart.
Pablo Neruda, Chile, 1959. One Hundred Love Sonnets.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Columbia, 1967. One Hundred Years of Solitude
Ayn Rand, US, 1957. Atlas Shrugged.
Jorges Luis Borges, Argentina, 1964. Labyrinths.
Michel Foucault, France, 1966. The Order of Things.
Maya Angelou, US, 1969. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
VS Naipul, Trinidad, 1979. A Bend in the River.
Salman Rushdie, England, 1980. Midnight’s Children.
Margaret Atwood, Canada, 1985. The Handmaid’s Tale.
Toni Morrison, United States , 1987. Beloved.

The Great Books of Science

Aristotle, Greece, 220 BCE. Physics.
Euclid, Greece, 300 BCE. The Elements.
Ptolemy, Egypt, 147. Almagest.
Roger Bacon, England, 1267. Opus Majius.
Nicolaus Copernicus, Poland, 1543. Die Revolutionibus.
Andreas Vesalius, Belgium, 1543. De Corporis Fabrica.
Johannes Kepler, Germany, 1609. Astronomia Nova.
Francis Bacon, England, 1620. Novum Organum.
William Harvey, England, 1628. On the Circulation of the Blood.
Galileo Galilei, Italy, 1632. Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems.
Robert Hooke, England 1665. Micrographia.
Isaac Newton, England 1687. Principia Mathamatica.
Giambatistta Vico, Italy, 1725. The New Science.
Carolus Linnaeus, Sweden, 1735. Systema Naturae.
Antoine Lavoisier, France 1789. Treatise on Chemistry.
Charles Darwin, England, 1859. The Origin of Species.
Sigmund Freud, Austria, 1899. The Interpretation of Dreams.
Albert Einstein, Germany 1916. Relativity: The Special and General Theory.
Max Planck, Germany, 1915. Eight Lectures on Theoretical Physics.
Jane Jacobs, US, 1961. The Death and Life of Great American Cities.
Karl Jung, Switzerland, 1961. Man and his Symbols.
Thomas Kuhn, US, 1962. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.
Rachel Carson, US, 1962. Silent Spring.
George Gamelov, Ukraine, 1966. Thirty Years That Shook Physics: The Story of Quantum Theory.
James Watson, James Crick US/England, 1968. The Double Helix.
Carl Sagan, US, 1973. The Cosmic Connection.
Richard Dawkins, England, 1976. The Selfish Gene.
Douglas Hofstadter, US, 1979. Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid
Stephen Jay Gould, US, 1981. The Mismeasure of Man.
Richard Feynman, US, 1985. QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter
Oliver Sacks, England, 1985. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat
Stephen Hawking, England, 1988. Brief History of Time
Jared Diamond, US, 1999. Guns, Germs and Steel.


  1. Nice list. Do you know about this edition of the Gita?

  2. I don't know anything about the different editions. I read it when I was in my late teens. That would make it forty plus years ago. I know that I read the Mentor Library edition which probably sold for twenty-five cents in those days. It would be a good, short book to read and write about. I remember that it is a self contained chapter that has been lifted from the Mahabharata. It contains the words spoken by the god Rama who was acting as a servant of one of the heroes in the great battle that was at the center of that large epic. The hero wanted to avoid the ugliness and great destruction of the battle. And the Gita was Rama's explanation to him of why it was better for him, in spite of the evil associated with death and destruction. it was better for him to do his duty as indicated by his birth into the warrior caste.