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Old 11-18-2005, 07:29 PM   #1
Bob Russell
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The Portable Harvard Classics

From one of my all-time favorite ebook resources, the Portable Harvard Classics,

"While complete sets of the Harvard Classics are available on ebay for just a few hundred dollars, the volumes, one and all, carry the same fatal flaw. They are bulky, heavy, unbendable, and, lets face it, made of paper.

The Portable Harvard Classics was born of necessity. I travel extensively, read voraciously, and collect compulsively. I found the Harvard Classics online and I was hooked! But how was I to bring this massive collection with me in my many and varied travels. I needed a solution to this dilema. Thanks to the good folks at www.bartleby.com, practically the entire 51 volume Harvard Classics collection, as well as the 20 volume Shelf of Fiction, are available online. And so was begun the Portable Harvard Classics project.

My plan is to convert each and every tale, history, essay, treatise, poem and volume into plain text. From there, one by one, they are finding their way onto my little Palm m130 for my reading pleasure while on the bus, train or airplane.

And through the goodness of my heart, and at the suggestion of my son, I am making my magnum opus available to all of you. Feel free to distribute these files to all and sundry. There is no copyright on these volumes so give 'em to your friends, send 'em to your family, and distribute them to your co-workers and fellow students through anonymous emails."

A wonderful undertaking that continues to progress through time at a rate faster than I am reading it, so that works out fine. So far I'm on Volume 3 Book 1 at a leisurely pace and loving it.

If you are not familiar with the Harvard Classics, Bartleby's says it is "The most comprehensive and well-researched anthology of all time comprises both the 50-volume “5-foot shelf of books” and the 20-volume Shelf of Fiction. Together they cover every major literary figure, philosopher, religion, folklore and historical subject through the twentieth century."

In fact, I believe it all started in the early 1900's when the president of Harvard College put together the collection and said that in those 5 shelves of books were the equivalent of a complete liberal education. It's all the sorts of books that I ignored when I was in college, but find fascinating now. They are significant works of literature and quite relevant to culture and history. All of a sudden I find myself completely enthralled with the idea of getting a glimpse into what these great men have written. It's definitely worth a look if you like to read non-fiction. And if you like fiction, be sure to check out the books from the shelf of fiction also!

Update: The new URL is http://www.portableharvardclassics.com

Last edited by BobR; 01-05-2006 at 06:33 PM. Reason: URL Updated
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Old 11-20-2005, 06:05 PM   #2
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Thanks for the link, Bob. I'll check this out, as I really do need to broaden my book reading somewhat (being a hardcore sf/fantasy reader).
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Old 12-14-2005, 05:13 PM   #3
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This is such a cool project and I'm glad to see that it is still progressing. We discussed it over a year ago in this thread.

I feel the same way as Bob. Some of the books and subjects I found tedious in school fascinate me now.
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Old 12-22-2005, 04:12 PM   #4
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Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the number of books in this project that have actually been assembled for download is 7?

I too am finding that books I found tedious in school have a great deal of what I want to learn, so I applaud this effort.

And much as Bartleby has done good by posting these texts online, I find myself unhappy with them for making the assembly of a single file for each text so difficult.
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Old 12-22-2005, 04:53 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rsperberg
Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the number of books in this project that have actually been assembled for download is 7?
That's seven volumes available, but each volume is likely to have multiple books.

For example, Vol 1 has:
- Benjamin Franklin, His Autobiography: 1706 - 1757
- The Journal of John Woolman
- Some Fruits of Solitude by William Penn

In addition, there are four more volumes available in the Shelf of Fiction, and two more volumes in the Century collection.

But, unfortunately, it's still a work in progress, and we must be patient for them to roll out. I agree - definitely a shame that it's so hard to assemble in usable form!

David (aka Hacker) has also been working on a similar project, but with more significant projects on his plate I don't think he's had time to finish yet either.
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Old 10-18-2006, 09:11 PM   #6
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Does anyone know what happened to the project? The site no longer works.

p.s. sorry to dig up such an old post
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Old 10-19-2006, 07:39 AM   #7
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Thanks for noticing that. I'll contact the person who was doing it to see if I can get an update.
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Old 02-08-2007, 04:10 AM   #8
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Please do. I'm interested in this.
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Old 02-08-2007, 08:18 AM   #9
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I have not had any success with reaching him. I sure hope it's not the end of the road for the site.

It had even made the USA Today hot web sites list... http://www.usatoday.com/tech/webguid...8-hotsites.htm

But you can still find the Harvard Classics and the Shelf of Fiction content online at http://www.bartleby.com/hc/ in regular web form.
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Old 02-08-2007, 08:26 AM   #10
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Funny that this thread just came back up. I just recieved snail junk for the paper version.
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Old 02-08-2007, 02:01 PM   #11
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Interesting, I missed this thread the first time. If someone does find the portable versions please post!
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Old 02-08-2007, 02:38 PM   #12
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Here's a peek from the WayBackMachine for those who haven't seen it before. Also has a contact link if anyone else wants to try to contact the site owner. But you won't be able to get to the actual book files here.

http://web.archive.org/web/200604210...com/index.html
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Old 02-08-2007, 03:49 PM   #13
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I suppose Wiki gave them a runoff!
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Old 02-14-2007, 09:32 PM   #14
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The collection is far from complete, but three formats of some of the Harvard Classics can be found at http://www.bartleby.com/ebook/
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Old 02-15-2007, 11:17 PM   #15
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Treasure

Thanks so much Bob. From China where English paper books are rare, this is indeed a treasure.
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