Great books are those that contain the best materials on which the human mind can work in order to gain insight,understanding, and wisdom.Each of them, in its own way,raises the recurrent basicquestions which men must face. Because these questions are never completely solved,these books are the sources and monuments of a continuing intellectual tradition.
Garl Van Doren once referred to great books as"the books that never have to be written again. "They are the rare,perfect achievements of sustained excellence. Their beauty and clarity show that they are masterpieces of the fine as well as of the liberal arts. Such books are justifiably called greatwhether they are books of science, poetry, theology, mathematics, or politics.
The richness of great books shows itself in the many levels of meaning they contain. They lend themselves to a variety of interpretations. This does not mean they are ambiguous or that their integrity is compromised. The different interpretations complement one another and allow the reader to discover the unity of the work from a variety of perspectives. We need not read other books more than once to get all that they have to say. But we can always go deeper into great books. As sources of enlightenment they are inexhaustible.
The interest in many good books that are written is limited to a definite period of history. They do not exhibit the universal appeal that results from dealing with the fundamental questions which confront men in all times and places and in a way that men in all times and places can understand. Great books, on the contrary, transcend the provincial limits of their origin. They remain as world literature. The ones we are sure are great are the ones men everywhere turn to again and again through the centuries.