July 12, 2012

The 200 greatest novels, stories, and poems...

... for $2.99. (The Complete Harvard Classics Shelf of Fiction, "carefully selected by the world's leading experts on literature and philosophy at Harvard University.")

The complete works of Tolstoy for $1.99.

The complete works of Dickens for $2.99.

And here are the complete works of Ralph Waldo Emerson & Henry David Thoreau — together at last — for $1.99

What a world we live in! You can carry it all with you in a 6-ounce device. (Or something fancier.)

***

Somebody asked recently if I can see what it is you buy when you enter Amazon through my links, and the answer is yes. For example, somebody bought a compressor. Thanks!

ADDED: It's not the complete works of Leo Tolstoy, but — as revealed at the link once you get past the mistranscribed titled — 25+ works by Leo Tolstoy. It's missing some things I like, including "What Is Art?" I'm guessing the omissions have to do with the lack of translations. I'm always wary of these low-priced editions of literature to be read in translation. Personally, I bought all the items linked in this post except the Tolstoy. But note: there are some works in translation in the Harvard Classics collection (e.g., "Old Goriot").

34 comments:

sydney said...

The Amazon reviews say that 150 of them are Shakespeare's sonnets. That's cheating a little, but it is still a good value.

Beldar said...

Prof. A, it's perhaps implicit in your example, in which you say that you can see from Amazon.com that "somebody" bought a compressor, but:

You might want to reassure readers that Amazon doesn't provide Amazon Associates like yourself with any identifying information about the purchasers themselves. Thus, you know that "somebody" bought a compressor -- and which compressor and for how much -- but you can't thank that person individually, and no one's privacy is at risk.

bagoh20 said...

I wonder what the authors would say about those prices.

Next Adventure said...

I bought the compressor for the Air Conditioner on my car. I don't know if it showed my name, but I don't really care. Glad to know that the search through the link worked!

Saint Croix said...

I clicked through to see what the 200 greatest works are. All the customers are complaining!

The list was picked in the early 20th century, so no Hemingway, no Wodehouse. Looks like the original list excluded Shakespeare! Wow. Anyway, somebody added 154 of Shakespeares poems and sonnets. (But no plays?!)

No Moby Dick, which is kind of an amazing omission. No Huck Finn!

Mark Twain called a classic "a book everybody owns and nobody reads." Looks like the list is full of classics.

I've been meaning to read Balzac, though. Truffaut was a huge fan of Balzac.

Michael said...

The Harvard Classics (a five foor shelf of books) were the only books in our house when I was growing up. My father read from them when I was a little boy and later I read the words in them by myself.

The amount of free or cheap classics now available electronically is astonishing. I wonder, however, if the love of books doesnt begin with a small child looking at the tidy objects on the shelf and longing for the time when they can pull them down and use them. I wonder if the freedom of the Kindle doesnt diminish the experience.

sydney said...

Michael said,

I wonder, however, if the love of books doesnt begin with a small child looking at the tidy objects on the shelf and longing for the time when they can pull them down and use them. I wonder if the freedom of the Kindle doesnt diminish the experience.

Yes, I wonder that, too. Much of my reading as a child was from books I pulled off my parents' book shelf. And I purposely leave books laying around the house I want my children to read. It seems to work. In a moment of boredom they pick one of them up and get hooked.

Saint Croix said...

Shakespeare's plays (Hamlet, King Lear, Macbeth, The Tempest) are listed in the original Harvard classics, but not in "The Shelf of Fiction" which makes sense, I guess.

What makes this version kind of weird is that it seems like somebody was embarrassed that there was no Shakespeare in the "200 greatest novels, stories, and poems" of all time. So they overcompensated by doing a Shakespeare sonnet dump.

But now Eliot's list is 75% Shakespeare! I think he'd be a little irritated.

You'd think some classics professor at Harvard could take an afternoon and come up with a new list.

Of course if Harvard tried to do something like this today, no way. All those dead white men? Forget about it. Much better to recycle an opinion from a hundred years ago.

Richard Lawrence Cohen said...

As St. Croix points out, this is a very old and incomplete selection of great books -- but that doesn't mean that the ones on the list aren't worth it. What's more troubling is that the "complete Tolstoy" is incomplete. It lacks the Sebastopol Stories, Hadji Murad, The Kreutzer Sonata -- three great and important works. Also, I wonder what translation this is; obviously an old one; none of the amazon reviews say. Cambridge has a complete Tolstoy -- I'm not aware of how complete it is or what translation -- in separate critical-edition Kindle volumes for a dollar apiece.

Elliott A said...

My purchases via the blog through amazon make me feel less guilty about any comments I make that maybe somewhat lacking in intelligence, wit, or purpose.

Kelly from Georgia said...

Did you see the Harley Davidson sandals I bought? :) I'm sitting here anxiously awaiting the UPS truck right now!!!

Kelly

Ann Althouse said...

"You might want to reassure readers that Amazon doesn't provide Amazon Associates like yourself with any identifying information about the purchasers themselves. Thus, you know that "somebody" bought a compressor -- and which compressor and for how much -- but you can't thank that person individually, and no one's privacy is at risk."

Yeah, I don't know who buys what. Only the what. And what it cost, when it was bought, and how much of a cut of that price goes to me. For example, I received $19+ when that reader bought the compressor.

It's a really great way for readers to pay (without paying) for the experience of having this blog around if that's what they like.

edutcher said...

Haavahd's idea of what's great and mine may not always coincide, but, for some people, it's a better starting point than they got in 12 (hopefully, no more) years of public school.

Cedarford said...

Thought about this, roughly along the same lines when my wife took me to an estate sale last summer. There was a full 1972 Encyclopedia Britannica set there. For 20 dollars. No takers.

One of the kids of the dead lady was there...and said that when the set was bought..it was a real sacrifice and each of them was expected to read it and use it all through school. The books and knowledge available therein were considered precious.
He was a doctor, as was his brother, his sister is about to retire as a diplomat. Another sister was an artist, married early, and has had several "art businesses.
His Dad was a utility lineman.

My question is when knowledge and data becomes dirt cheap - does it follow the same arc as other things that become dirt cheap commodities and not scarce and precious....begin being taken for granted???

There are things we once devoted great time to learning and developing skill in or appreciating when they were not abundant.
200 years back, obtaining water was an obsession...and people know a lot more about it and its sources than now.
I saw an aluminum and diamond necklace from the 1850s ....the aluminum was a hot item, rare as a refined metal..with amazing properties.
At one time it was on a majority of American men to know hunting, all about the habits of game...when meat was scarce and not tossed into a shopping cart and paid for with an Obama EBT card without a second thought.

Porn was rare and hard to get and expensive 100 years back. Not a mouseclick away. Same with fine art viewing.

As great works become as cheap and easy to get as tapwater...will we pay any thought to them?

Freeman Hunt said...

What I want is a set of or smattering from the Loeb Classical Library.

Michael said...

FreemanHunt. Me too! Knowing no Greek I stick to the red ones. I have a dozen or so collected over thirty years. Caesar, Seneca and Cicero. Latin on the facing page. I may spring for the whole set one of these days. I love the size and feel of these books: the paper, the fonts, the tight bindings and the red covers.

wef said...

Contemporary authors and poets are facing unfair competition from dead white guys! We must put a protective tariff on importing entertainment and knowledge from the past.

Mike Chuck said...

Ann, do you know if we can confirm our purchases are the result of a click thru from your site.

I worry some times with all the tabs I have open and the amazon links I click on from different sites how to know which site got credit for the click thru.

ampersand said...

@althouse "I received $19+ when that reader bought the compressor"

Do you pay your fair share of state and federal taxes on your ill gotten gains?

Strelnikov said...

Bought it through your link. Great value, although I've already read about 1/3.

Ann Althouse said...

Next Adventure said..."I bought the compressor for the Air Conditioner on my car. I don't know if it showed my name, but I don't really care. Glad to know that the search through the link worked!"

Thanks, N.A.!

Enjoy the cool.

Ann Althouse said...

"What I want is a set of or smattering from the Loeb Classical Library."

I'm only seeing 2 of those in Kindle, but there are in the As — such as Anabasis — so maybe there's a systematic Kindlization going on.

-Peder said...

The 'free classics' aspect of the Kindle is one that I wish more people knew about. I'm currently working through a reading list based on the 'Great Books of the Western World' and nearly all of it is available for free. Free! We truly live in a wondrous time. I hope people understand and take advantage of this.

Michael said...

Professor. I see the Kindle Anabasis but it does not have facing pages in the original Greek. It may be a Loeb Classical Library translation but it would not be the same.

The Loeb series often has archaic translations from the twenties and teens but if you know Latin or Greek you can translate as you go.

Ann Althouse said...

"Do you pay your fair share of state and federal taxes on your ill gotten gains?"

I sure do.

You think Amazon doesn't do the usual IRS reporting forms for its Associates program?

Ann Althouse said...

"Professor. I see the Kindle Anabasis but it does not have facing pages in the original Greek. It may be a Loeb Classical Library translation but it would not be the same."

Hmm. Too bad. I would recommend going into the regular books pages for these books and clicking on the place where it asks if you'd like to read this in Kindle.

Michael said...

Professor. I think that the Loebs are best read in their wonderful printed versions. You probably have them in your college bookstore if you want to have a look. Green for Greek and Red for Latin.

Patrick said...


Enjoy the cool.


Should make the Next Adventure more comfortable.

Jose_K said...

think that the Loebs are best read in their wonderful printed versions? censored version of the classics . no thaks

Jose_K said...

I've been meaning to read Balzac, though. ..
Pere goriot
Eugene Grandet.
Lost illusions
The harlots high and low
The girl of the golden eyes
The mass of the atheist

Crimso said...

FWIW, I've had a Fire for a few months now and I love it. I can carry in a compact device an entire library of scientific articles in PDF format. Being able to read books on it was initially just a bonus, but I've found that most of my reading for pleasure over this time has been on it.

Michael said...

Jose K. Well, you are right about that! At least as far as some of the works. No censorship of Caesar or Cicero or Seneca, however. These are old translations, some dating to the beginning of the last century. But there are few editions of the classics rhat are in the original and in English.

john said...

You think I'm ever gonna buy something from Amazon through Althouse anymore?
No way.

Saint Croix said...

Thanks Jose K

Tha Harlots High and Low sounds pretty good!