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Great Books of the Western World

List Criteria: Books written by authors from the Western Hemisphere

Compiled by Encyclopedia Britannica, this is a list of the great books of the western world. It is our western canon gathered into a single package of 60 volumes. Initially compiled in the 50's, the Great Books of the Western World was updated in the 90's with a second edition. While the first three volumes of the compendium feature a dissertation on liberal education, Volume 4 and beyond contain various books that we have listed here. Both fiction and non-fiction have been included, as well as all genres. Encyclopedia Britannica did a fantastic job putting together this list of Great Books of the Western World. If you're looking for a great, timeless book, then this is the place to start.

Be sure to check out Ranker's other lists like the Best Opening Lines in Fiction.

Great Books of the Western World Books
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  1. 1
    + 40
    - 5

    William Shakespeare Volume: 27

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  2. 2
    + 39
    - 5

    Homer

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  3. 3
    + 50
    - 9

    Dante Alighieri Volume: 21

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  4. 4
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    - 8

    Miguel de Cervantes

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  5. 5
    + 42
    - 7

    William Shakespeare Volume: 27

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  6. 6
    + 44
    - 9

    Fyodor Dostoyevsky Volume: 52

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  7. 7
    + 34
    - 5

    Harold Bloom Volume: 4

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  8. 8
    + 43
    - 10

    Leo Tolstoy Volume: 51

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  9. 9
    + 44
    - 12

    Joseph Conrad Volume: 59

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  10. 10
    + 44
    - 13
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  11. 11
    + 37
    - 8

    John Milton Volume: 32

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  12. 12
    + 45
    - 15

    William Shakespeare Volume: 26

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  13. 13
    + 35
    - 9

    Geoffrey Chaucer Volume: 22

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  14. 14
    + 56
    - 26

    George Orwell Volume: 60

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  15. 15
    + 58
    - 28

    F. Scott Fitzgerald Volume: 60

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  16. 16
    + 32
    - 9

    T. S. Eliot Volume: 60

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  17. 17
    + 28
    - 7

    William Shakespeare

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  18. 18
    + 33
    - 11
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  19. 19
    + 28
    - 8

    Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Volume: 47

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  20. 20
    + 30
    - 10

    William Shakespeare

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  21. 21
    + 26
    - 7

    William Shakespeare Volume: 26

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  22. 22
    + 32
    - 12

    Niccolò Machiavelli Volume: 23

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  23. 23
    + 23
    - 5

    William Shakespeare Volume: 26

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  24. 24
    + 34
    - 14

    Samuel Beckett Volume: 60

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  25. 25
    + 29
    - 10

    Jane Austen Volume: 46

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  26. 26
    + 24
    - 6

    William Shakespeare Volume: 27

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  27. 27
    + 30
    - 11

    Jonathan Swift Volume: 36

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  28. 28
    + 30
    - 13

    Franz Kafka Volume: 60

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  29. 29
    + 26
    - 10

    Virginia Woolf Volume: 60

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  30. 30
    + 22
    - 7

    William Shakespeare Volume: 26

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  31. 31
    + 24
    - 9

    William Shakespeare Volume: 26

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  32. 32
    + 18
    - 4
    No image
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  33. 33
    + 19
    - 5

    Anton Chekhov Volume: 59

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  34. 34
    + 20
    - 6
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  35. 35
    + 17
    - 4

    Thomas Hobbes Volume: 23

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  36. 36
    + 18
    - 5

    Aristotle Volume: 8

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  37. 37
    + 18
    - 5

    Euclid Volume: 11

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  38. 38
    + 19
    - 6

    Giorgio Colli, Friedrich Nietzsche, Mazzino Montinari Volume: 43

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  39. 39
    + 17
    - 5

    Plato Volume: 7

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  40. 40
    + 19
    - 7

    John Stuart Mill Volume: 43

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  41. 41
    + 16
    - 5

    William Shakespeare Volume: 27

    ; buy at  
  42. 42
    + 16
    - 5

    Euripides Volume: 5

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  43. 43
    + 18
    - 7

    William Shakespeare Volume: 26

    ; buy at  
  44. 44
    + 13
    - 3

    Plato Volume: 7

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  45. 45
    + 14
    - 4

    Aeschylus Volume: 5

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  46. 46
    + 18
    - 8

    Thomas Mann Volume: 59

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  47. 47
    + 10
    - 1

    Michel de Montaigne Volume: 25

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  48. 48
    + 12
    - 3

    Plato Volume: 7

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  49. 49
    + 15
    - 6

    Aristotle Volume: 9

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  50. 50
    + 9
    - 1

    William Shakespeare Volume: 26

    ; buy at  
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