Gateway to the Great Books

Gateway to the Great Books

"Gateway to the Great Books" is a 10-volume series of books originally published by Encyclopædia Britannica Inc. in 1963 and edited by Mortimer Adler and Robert Maynard Hutchins. The set was designed as an introduction to the "Great Books of the Western World", published by the same organization and editors in 1952. The set included selections - short stories, plays, essays, letters, and extracts from longer works - by more than one hundred authors. The selections were generally shorter and in some ways simpler than the full-length books included in the "Great Books".


A number of authors in the "Great Books" set - such as Plutarch, Epictetus, Tacitus, Dante, Herman Melville, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Jean Jacques Rousseau, David Hume, John Stuart Mill, Francis Bacon, Charles Darwin and William James - were also represented by shorter works in the "Gateway" volumes. And several "Gateway" readings discussed authors in the "Great Books" series. For instance, a selection from Henry Adams'"Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres" critiqued the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas.

Indeed, many writers in the "Gateway" set were eventually "promoted" to the second edition (1990) of the "Great Books", such as Alexis de Toqueville, Molière, Henry James, Charles Dickens, Virginia Woolf, Albert Einstein and John Dewey.

Index, reading plans, criticism

The set included an index similar to the "Great Books"' "Syntopicon", along with reading plans of increasing difficulty. Hutchins contributed an introduction that was essentially a boiled-down version of "The Great Conversation", his preface to the "Great Books". The set contained biographical notes on the various authors, similar to those in the "Great Books". However, the set also contained editorial introductions to the selections, which were generally not included in the "Great Books". In another departure from the "Great Books" series, the set included black-and-white drawings of most of the authors by Chicago portraitist Fred Steffen, who also wrote brief notes describing the illustrations. Details from a number of these drawings were featured on the volume covers.

Although the editors maintained that many selections were appropriate to readers as young as seventh-grade students, the set included a fair amount of material challenging for the most experienced reader. In what may have been a response to complaints about the cramped typography of the "Great Books", the "Gateway" volumes were single-column with larger, more readable type.

Many of the same criticisms leveled at the "Great Books" can be made of the "Gateway" set. The books concentrated heavily on Western European and American literature and included few selections by women or minority authors. The set is now out of print but is easily available from used-book sites on the Internet.


Volume 1: Introduction; Syntopical Guide
*A letter to the reader
*Syntopical guide
**A plan of graded reading
**Recommended novels
**Recommended anthologies of poetry

Volume 2: Imaginative Literature I
*Daniel Defoe, Excerpts from "Robinson Crusoe"
*Rudyard Kipling, "Mowgli's Brothers" from "The Jungle Book"
*Victor Hugo, "The Battle with the Cannon" from "Ninety-Three"
*Guy de Maupassant, "Two Friends"
*Ernest Hemingway, "The Killers" from "Men Without Women"
*Sir Walter Scott, "The Two Drovers" from "Chronicles of the Canongate"
*Joseph Conrad, "Youth"
*Voltaire, "Micromegas"
*Oscar Wilde, "The Happy Prince" from "The Happy Prince and Other Tales"
*Edgar Allan Poe, "The Tell-Tale Heart", "The Masque of the Red Death"
*Robert Louis Stevenson, "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde"
*Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens), "The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg"
*Charles Dickens, "A Full and Faithful Report of the Memorable Trial of Bardell against Pickwick" from "The Pickwick Papers"
*Nikolai Gogol, "The Overcoat"
*Samuel Butler, "Customs and Opinions of the Erewhonians" from "Erewhon"
*Sherwood Anderson, "I'm a Fool"
*Anonymous, "Aucassin and Nicolette"

Volume 3: Imaginative Literature II
*Stephen Crane, "The Open Boat"
*Herman Melville, "Billy Budd"
*Ivan Bunin, "The Gentleman from San Francisco"
*Nathaniel Hawthorne, "Rappaccini's Daughter"
*George Eliot, "The Lifted Veil"
*Lucius Apuleius, "Cupid and Psyche" from "The Golden Ass"
*Ivan Turgenev, "First Love"
*Fyodor Dostoevsky, "White Nights"
*John Galsworthy, "The Apple-Tree"
*Gustave Flaubert, "The Legend of St. Julian the Hospitaller"
*F. Scott Fitzgerald, "The Diamond as Big as the Ritz"
*Honore de Balzac, "A Passion in the Desert"
*Anton Chekhov, "The Darling"
*Isaac Singer, "The Spinoza of Market Street"
*Alexander Pushkin, "The Queen of Spades"
*D. H. Lawrence, "The Rocking-Horse Winner"
*Henry James, "The Pupil"
*Thomas Mann, "Mario and the Magician"
*Isak Dinesen, "Sorrow-Acre"
*Leo Tolstoy, "The Death of Ivan Ilyitch", "The Three Hermits", "What Men Live By"

Volume 4: Imaginative Literature III
*Molière, "The Misanthrope", "The Doctor in Spite of Himself"
*Richard Sheridan, "The School for Scandal"
*Henrik Ibsen, "An Enemy of the People"
*Anton Chekhov, "The Cherry Orchard"
*George Bernard Shaw, "The Man of Destiny"
*John Synge, "Riders to the Sea"
*Eugene O'Neill, "The Emperor Jones"

Volume 5: Critical Essays
*Virginia Woolf, "How Should One Read a Book?"
*Matthew Arnold, "The Study of Poetry", "Sweetness and Light"
*Charles Augustin Sainte-Beuve, "What Is a Classic?", "Montaigne"
*Francis Bacon, "Of Beauty", "Of Discourse", "Of Studies"
*David Hume, "Of the Standard of Taste"
*Arthur Schopenhauer, "On Style", "On Some Forms of Literature", "On the Comparative Place of Interest and Beauty in Works of Art"
*Friedrich Schiller, "On Simple and Sentimental Poetry"
*Percy Bysshe Shelley, "A Defence of Poetry"
*Walt Whitman, Preface to "Leaves of Grass"
*William Hazlitt, "My First Acquaintance with Poets", "On Swift", "Of Persons One Would Wish to Have Seen"
*Charles Lamb, "My First Play", "Dream Children, a Reverie", "Sanity of True Genius"
*Samuel Johnson, Preface to "Shakespeare"
*Thomas de Quincey, Literature of Knowledge and Literature of Power", "On the Knocking at the Gate in Macbeth"
*T. S. Eliot, "Dante", "Tradition and the Individual Talent"

Volume 6: Man and Society I
*John Stuart Mill, "Childhood and Youth" from "Autobiography"
*Mark Twain, "Learning the River" from "Life on the Mississippi"
*Jean de la Bruyere, "Characters" from "A Book of Characters"
*Thomas Carlyle, 'The Hero as King" from "On Heroes, Hero-Worship and the Heroic in History"
*Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Thoreau"
*Nathaniel Hawthorne, "Sketch of Abraham Lincoln"
*Walt Whitman, "Death of Abraham Lincoln"
*Virginia Woolf, "The Art of Biography"
*Xenophon, "The March to the Sea" from "The Persian Expedition", "The Character of Socrates" from "Memorabilia"
*William H. Prescott, "The Land of Montezuma" from "The Conquest of Mexico"
*Haniel Long, "The Power within Us"
*Pliny the Younger, "The Eruption of Vesuvius"
*Tacitus, "The Life of Gnaeus Julius Agricola"
*Francois Guizot, "Civilization" from "History of Civilization in Europe"
*Henry Adams, "The United States in 1800" from "History of the United States of America"
*John Bagnell Bury, "Herodotus" from "The Ancient Greek Historians"
*Lucian, "The Way to Write History"
*Great Documents
**"The English Bill of Rights"
**"Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen"
**"The Virginia Declaration of Rights"
**"The Declaration of Independence"
**"Charter of the United Nations"
**"Universal Declaration of Human Rights"
*Thomas Paine, "A Call to Patriots - December 23, 1776"
*George Washington, "Circular Letter to the Governors of All the States on Disbanding the Army", "The Farewell Address"
*Thomas Jefferson, "The Virginia Constitution" from "Notes on Virginia", "First Inaugural Address", "Biographical Sketches"
*Benjamin Franklin, "A Proposal for Promoting Useful Knowledge among the British Plantations in America", "Proposals Relating to the Education of Youth in Pennsylvania"
*Jean de Crevecoeur, "The Making of Americans" from "Letters from an American Farmer"
*Alexis de Tocqueville, "Observations on American Life and Government" from "Democracy in America"
*Henry David Thoreau,"Civil Disobedience", "A Plea for Captain John Brown"
*Abraham Lincoln, "Address at Cooper Institute", "First Inaugural Address", "Letter to Horace Greeley", "Meditation on the Divine Will", "The Gettysburg Address", "Second Inaugural Address", "Last Public Address"

Volume 7: Man and Society II
*Francis Bacon, "Of Youth and Age", "Of Parents and Children", "Of Marriage and Single Life", "Of Great Place", "Of Seditions and Troubles", "Of Custom and Education", "Of Followers and Friends", "Of Usury", "Of Riches"
*Jonathan Swift, "Resolutions when I Come to Be Old", "An Essay on Modern Education", "A Meditation upon a Broomstick", "A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Ireland from Being a Burden to Their Parents or Country"
*David Hume, "Of Refinement in the Arts", "Of Money", "Of the Balance of Trade", "Of Taxes", "Of the Study of History"
*Plutarch, "Of Bashfulness"
*Robert Louis Stevenson, "The Lantern-Bearers" from "Across the Plains"
*John Ruskin, "An Idealist's Arraignment of the Age" from "Four Clavigera"
*William James, "On a Certain Blindness in Human Beings", "The Energies of Men", "Great Men and Their Environment"
*Arthur Schopenhauer, "On Education"
*Michael Faraday, "Observations on Mental Education"
*Edmund Burke, "Letter to the Sheriffs of Bristol"
*John Calhoun, "The Concurrent Majority"
*Thomas Babington Macaulay, "Machiavelli"
*Voltaire, "English Men and Ideas" from "Letters on the English"
*Dante, "On World Government" from "De Monarchia"
*Jean Jacques Rousseau, "A Lasting Peace through the Federation of Europe"
*Immanuel Kant, "Perpetual Peace"
*Karl von Clausewitz, "What Is War?" from "On War"
*Thomas Robert Malthus, "The Principle of Population" from "Population: The First Essay"

Volume 8: Natural Science
*Francis Bacon, "The Sphinx"
*John Tyndall, "Michael Faraday" from "Faraday as a Discoverer"
*Eve Curie, "The Discovery of Radium" from "Madame Curie"
*Charles Darwin, "Autobiography"
*Jean Henri Fabre, "A Laboratory of the Open Fields", "The Sacred Beetle"
*Loren Eiseley, "On Time"
*Rachel Carson, "The Sunless Sea" from "The Sea Around Us"
*J. B. S. Haldane, "On Being the Right Size" from "Possible Worlds"
*Thomas Henry Huxley, "On the Relations of Man to the Lower Animals", "On a Piece of Chalk"
*Francis Galton, "The Classification of Human Ability" from "Hereditary Genius"
*Claude Bernard, "Experimental Considerations Common to Living Things and Inorganic Bodies"
*Ivan Pavlov, "Scientific Study of the So-called Psychical Processes in the Higher Animals"
*Friedrich Wohler, "On the Artificial Production of Urea"
*Charles Lyell, "Geological Evolution" from "The Principles of Geology"
*Galileo, "The Starry Messenger"
*Tommaso Campanella, "Arguments for and against Galileo" from "The Defense of Galileo"
*Michael Faraday, "The Chemical History of a Candle"
*Dmitri Mendeleev, "The Genesis of a Law of Nature" from "The Periodic Law of the Chemical Elements"
*Hermann von Helmholtz, "On the Conservation of Force"
*Albert Einstein and Leopold Infeld, "The Rise and Decline of Classical Physics" from "The Evolution of Physics"
*Arthur Eddington, "The Running-Down of the Universe" from "Nature and the Physical World"
*James Jeans, "Beginnings and Endings" from "The Universe Around Us"
*Kees Boeke, "Cosmic View"

Volume 9: Mathematics
*Lancelot Hogben, "Mathematics, the Mirror of Civilization" from "Mathematics for the Million"
*Andrew Russell Forsyth, "Mathematics, in Life and Thought"
*Alfred North Whitehead, "On Mathematical Method", "On the Nature of a Calculus"
*Bertrand Russell, "The Study of Mathematics", "Mathematics and the Metaphysicians", "Definition of Number"
*Edward Kasner and James R. Newman, "New Names for Old", "Beyond the Googol"
*Tobias Dantzig, "Fingerprints", "The Empty Column"
*Leonhard Euler, "The Seven Bridges of Konigsberg"
*Norman Robert Campbell, "Measurement", "Numerical Laws and the Use of Mathematics in Science"
*William Clifford, "The Postulates of the Science of Space" from "The Common Sense of the Exact Sciences"
*Henri Poincare, "Space", "Mathematical Creation", "Chance"
*Pierre Simon de Laplace, "Probability" from "A Philosophical Essay on Probabilities"
*Charles Sanders Peirce, "The Red and the Black"

Volume 10: Philosophical Essays
*John Erskine, "The Moral Obligation to Be Intelligent"
*William Clifford, "The Ethics of Belief"
*William James, "The Will to Believe", "The Sentiment of Rationality"
*John Dewey, "The Process of Thought" from "How We Think"
*Epicurus, "Letter to Herodotus", "Letter to Menoeceus"
*Epictetus, "The Enchiridion"
*Walter Pater, "The Art of Life" from "The Renaissance"
*Plutarch, "Contentment"
*Cicero, "On Friendship", "On Old Age"
*Francis Bacon, "Of Truth", "Of Death", "Of Adversity", "Of Love", "Of Friendship", "Of Anger"
*George Santayana, "Lucretius", "Goethe's Faust"
*Henry Adams, "St. Thomas Aquinas" from "Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres"
*Voltaire, "The Philosophy of Common Sense"
*John Stuart Mill, "Nature"
*Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Nature", "Self-Reliance", "Montaigne; or, the Skeptic"
*William Hazlitt, "On the Feeling of Immortality in Youth"
*Thomas Browne, "Immortality" from "Urn-Burial"

External links

* [ Complete table of contents for "Gateway to the Great Books", including page numbers, birth/death dates for authors, and full sources for all selections]
* [ "How To Read A Book" by Mortimer Adler, with discussion of the "Gateway" set]

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