One of the best known allegories ever written, John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress, portrays the journey of a Christian in a colorful narrative format, filled with vivid and full human portraits of its characters. With over 100,000 copies sold in Bunyan’s lifetime, this “most perfect and complex of fairy tales” has continued to attract readers and scholars throughout the centuries following its 1678 publication. This volume also contains short biographies of John Donne and George Herbert, written by their contemporary, British biographer Izaak Walton. In Walton’s brief portraits, he seeks to evoke not so much the facts of these men’s lives, but their personality and character.
Journey through “Dr. Eliot’s Five Foot Shelf.” This massive collection, designed to provide the elements of a liberal education, was compiled by distinguished Harvard University president Charles Eliot in the early 1900s. Packed with the essential works of the Western classical tradition, the Harvard Classics collection remains one of the most comprehensive and well-researched anthologies of all time—a must-have library for students and lovers of the classics.
Check out the complete The Harvard Classics and Fiction Collection. Keep reading with Harvard Classics, vol. 16: Stories from the Thousand and One Nights.
Charles William Eliot (1834–1926) served as president of Harvard University for 40 years, helping to shape the struggling provincial college into a premier American research university. Eliot graduated from Harvard in 1853, and was appointed tutor in mathematics in 1854, before becoming assistant professor of mathematics and chemistry. Eliot left Harvard in 1863 and traveled in Europe for nearly two years, studying the educational systems of the Old World. He took an interest in every aspect of institutional operation, from curriculum and methods of instruction, to physical arrangements and custodial services. But his particular concern was with the relation between education and economic growth.
Returning home in 1865, Eliot accepted an appointment as professor of analytical chemistry at the newly-founded Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1869, he published a two-part article with his ideas about reforming American higher education in The Atlantic Monthly, catching the attention of Harvard businessmen trying to pull the university out of a crisis of short-term presidents and languishing curriculum. Eliot was quickly elected as the youngest president in Harvard’s history. Under his leadership, Harvard began to expand the range of courses offered, permitting undergraduates with unrestricted choice in selecting their courses of study. This enabled them to discover their “natural bents” and pursue them into specialized studies. The university soon became a center for advanced scientific and technological research. During his presidency, the university extended its facilities with laboratories, libraries, classrooms, and athletic facilities. Eliot was able to attract the support of major donors from among the nation’s growing plutocracy, making it the wealthiest private university in the world.