WE HAVE ONE wall in our new home that will house a five-foot shelf of knolwedge. The idea follows the words of Dr. Charles W. Eliot who said, "If I had more than once stated that a five-foot shelf would hold books enough to give a liberal education to anyone who would read them with devotion, even if he could spare just fifteen minutes a day for reading." Eliot was the President of Harvard University. His five feet of books became known as The Harvard Classics.
Eliot's collection brought together more than 1,850 works by over 300 of the world's greatest philosophers, poets, playwrights, prophets, scientists, explorers, storytellers and statesmen. These classics have changed the lives of tens of thousands of people who have read them.
When issued nearly a century ago, the "Eliot Edition" was a set for millionaires. Because for about the same money, a person could have purchased a new car. As a young boy, I saw one displayed in a stately mansion in Pennsylvania. Today, the leather edition of this five-foot-long set of 50 books costs just under €4000. The books look as traditional as the crimson and gold set I saw as a 12-year-old. I wonder if they are too pretentious for a personal library.
Easton Press offers the first book for $9.95.