Who should be bounced from The Great Books series?

Before leaving for Japan, I’d been pawing through these volumes lately — you know, the U. Chicago fat tomes with two columns on each page?  The obvious question is which books belong and which do not; overall I’m surprised at how well the 1952 picks have held up and yes that is tribute to the University of Chicago or at least its influence.

I’m sad that Hume doesn’t get his own volume, including many of his shorter essays.  Plus I’d like to add Dickens’s Bleak House and at least the first two books of Proust.  And who to bounce?  I nominate Plotinus as the obvious choice, noting that he has only about 24,000 cites on scholar.google.com, not even as many as Joseph Stiglitz.

In 1990 they dropped four books: Apollonius’ On Conic Sections, Laurence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy, Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones, and Joseph Fourier’s Analytical Theory of Heat.  The loss of Sterne is regretted but the others we can do without.  You’ll find a list of the added books in 1990 at the first link, about halfway down and yes they did include Swann’s WayLittle Dorrit is not the best or even the second best Dickens selection.  Most are good picks though I would have left the Bergson, the Dewey (unreadable), and tossed out some of the shorter works in favor of Ulysses.  More William James is never a bad idea; how about The Varieties of Religious Experience?  None of the science books will age well.  And how about a wee bit of Mises and Hayek to reflect the failures of socialism?  Absalom, Absalom would help cover race and maybe Mill on The Subjection of Women should be there too.


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