The Great Books: A Journey through 2,500 Years of the West's Classic Literature


Anyone Can Read the Great Books . . . with a Little Help 

An illuminating, learned, well-written, and entertaining survey of the giants of world literature. Busy people, and especially the young, will be grateful for this useful and concise introduction.” Paul Johnson
Not simply a grand work of reference, The Great Books is a ...

See more details below
Paperback (1)
$17.36 price
(Save 21%)$22.00 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (10) from $11.62   
  • New (6) from $13.14   
  • Used (4) from $11.62   
Sending request ...


Anyone Can Read the Great Books . . . with a Little Help 

An illuminating, learned, well-written, and entertaining survey of the giants of world literature. Busy people, and especially the young, will be grateful for this useful and concise introduction.” Paul Johnson
Not simply a grand work of reference, The Great Books is a captivating journey through two-and-a-half millennia of the great Western tradition.
The eminent British philosopher Anthony O’Hear is our capable tour guide, taking readers on an exhilarating tour through 2,500 years of books as powerful, thrilling, erotic, politically astute, and awe-inspiring as any modern bestseller.
The Great Booksis a fascinating narrative that encompasses history, myth, art, music, theater, and more. O’Hear sweeps us along from Homer’s Iliad to Goethe’s Faust, covering much ground in between. In Homer’s poems of epic struggle we discover not only the fascination and pleasure we can derive, but also why these works became the fountainhead of Western literature. From Greek tragedy we feel the power of the ancient myths, while from Plato’s Death of Socrates we see what may have killed off the tragic spirit. In Virgil’s Aeneid we ponder the close connections to—and puzzling contrasts with—Homer; in Dante’s terrifying and sublime Divine Comedy we encounter Virgil once again, this time as mentor and guide through Hell; and in Milton’s phantasmagoric Paradise Lost we find the Christian story given epic shape and power. And of course, in Shakespeare we experience the great dramatist’s particular and incomparable genius.
There is much more beyond—from Ovid and Augustine to Chaucer and Cervantes, Pascal and Racine. The Great Books is a spirited and enlightening guide to the great works of the Western tradition, shot through with a love of literature and the author’s deeply held belief in its power to enrich and enliven everyone’s world.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

O'Hear (philosophy, Univ. of Buckingham; director, Royal Inst. of Philosophy) offers much enthusiasm for, clear summaries of, and moderate insight into 19 of the significant canonical works of Western literature, beginning with The Iliad and The Odyssey and ending with Goethe's Faust. Citing with approval philosopher David Hume's remark that the same Homer who pleased in Athens and Rome still pleases in London and Paris, O'Hear assumes an ahistorical stance, passing over historical contexts and the vast secondary literature. He defines the great books as possessing an objective significance that goes beyond individual and subjective interpretation. The point is not what we feel about the work or how we make it conform to us but how we are transformed by it. His readings are clear and his writing fluent, but his discussions do not go far beyond plot summaries. Recommended only for public libraries.
—T.L. Cooksey

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781610170260
  • Publisher: ISI Books
  • Publication date: 9/20/2011
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 1,507,520
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Anthony O’Hear is a professor of philosophy at the University of Buckingham in England, the director of the Royal Institute of Philosophy (London), and the editor of the journal Philosophy. His books include Karl Popper, An Introduction to the Philosophy of Science, After Progress, and Plato’s Children. He has contributed to all the major national newspapers in Britain, where he is a frequent guest on many national radio and television programs.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)