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The World's Greatest Books — Volume 01 — Fiction   By: (1875-1943)

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JOINT EDITORS ARTHUR MEE Editor and Founder of the Book of Knowledge

J. A. HAMMERTON Editor of Harmsworth's Universal Encyclopaedia


Table of Contents

ABOUT, EDMOND King of the Mountains


ANDERSEN, HANS Improvisatore

APULEIUS The Golden Ass




AUSTEN, JANE Sense and Sensibility Pride and Prejudice Northanger Abbey Mansfield Park Emma Persuasion

BALZAC, HONORÉ DE Eugénie Grandet Old Goriot Magic Skin Quest of the Absolute

BECKFORD, WILLIAM History of the Caliph Vathek

BEHN, APHRA Oroonoko

BERGERAC, CYRANO DE Voyage to the Moon


BLACK, WILLIAM Daughter of Heth

BLACKMORE, R.D. Lorna Doone


A Complete Index of THE WORLD'S GREATEST BOOKS will be found at the end of Volume XX.


An enterprise such as THE WORLD'S GREATEST BOOKS is to be judged from two different standpoints. It may be judged with respect to its specific achievement the material of which it consists; or it may be judged with regard to its general utility in the scheme of literature to which it belongs.

In an age which is sometimes ironically called "remarkable" for its commercialism, nothing has been more truly remarkable than the advancement in learning as well as in material progress; and of all the instruments that have contributed to this end, none has been more effective, perhaps, than the practical popularisation of literature.

In THE WORLD'S GREATEST BOOKS an attempt has been made to effect a compendium of the world's best literature in a form that shall be at once accessible to every one and still faithful to its originals; or, in other words, it has been sought to allow the original author to tell his own story over again in his own language, but in the shortest possible space.

Such a method differs entirely from all those in which an author is represented, either by one or more extracts from his work, or else by a formal summary or criticism of it in a language not his own. And, since the style and language of an original is what often constitutes the wings upon which alone its thought will fly, to have access to its thought without its form is too often to possess a skeleton without the spirit which alone could animate it.

Notwithstanding this, however, we are aware that even THE WORLD'S GREATEST BOOKS will not escape the criticism of a small class of people who will profess to object to this, as to any kind of interference with an author's original in reply to which it can only be said that such objections are seldom, if ever, made in the true interests of learning, or in a genuine spirit of inquiry, and too often only proceed from a knowledge of books or love of them which goes no deeper than their title page.

For better than all books are the truths which books contain, and to condense those truths into a form that makes them available is not only to invest them with new powers and an enlarged range of usefulness, but is also not necessarily to interfere with any of those essential qualities that make up the exquisite literary flavor of a fine original.

The selections in THE WORLD'S GREATEST BOOKS have been collected, and are alphabetically arranged, in ten different divisions, namely, Fiction, Lives and Letters, History, Religion, Philosophy, Economics, Science, Poetry and Drama, Travel and Adventure and Miscellaneous Literature.

An important additional feature of the work is the brief, yet highly critical biographical and bibliographical note which accompanies every author and every selection throughout the twenty volumes. To this must be also added the not less important Introductories , and other explanations written by experts, which often accompany the selections in the text cardinal examples of which will be found in particular in the section of Religion of this work, in the articles dealing with such subjects as the Book of the Dead, Brahmanism, Confucianism, the Koran, Talmud, etc... Continue reading book >>

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