The 47 lists compiled and collated at this site span the years, 1886-2016, and are nearly as varied in purpose, persons involved, and final result. Some of them rank the literary works, but most do not, insteading arranging them chronologically, alphabetically by author or work, ormost oftentopically; in this context, topical arrangement generally means that the list derived from a book about books, not necessarily intended to be a canon or list of classics, but often presenting the works discussed in list form, or lending itself to be easily made into a list: what I call a book-as-list.
The guidelines explain the criteria used to determine which lists to include. Suffice to say, the master list created from the 47 individual lists allows the user to see which literary works have appeared most frequently on lists or books that cover all literary history, or at least the literay history of the "West" or "East." Unfortunately, many of these lists have implicitly been confined to West European nations and languages, and are often dominated by English-language works. Moreover, most of the lists have come from the United States, and some certainly suggest an unsurprising bias in favor of U S writers. However, in recent years, more lists representing a wider selection of cultural traditions have appeared.
The links here take the form of a one-word tag for each list; these tags are used in the master list to indicate which, of the individual lists, each literary work appears in. The page for each list has a brief description of the provenance of the list, and will eventually feature a transcription of how it was presented in the original document. The descriptions also at times clarify how certain ambiguous or broad selections made by the listmaker were interpreted.
The next couple of lists to be added (probably after the site has been made into a searchable databaseperhaps in 2019): Malcolm Bradbury, ed., The Atlas of Literature [1996; *Atlas*]; and The St. John's College List of Great Books [1943; *St.John*], a rare volume prepared by the staff of the Enoch Pratt Free Libbrary for the General Readerit includes roughly 100 entries derived from the curriculum of St. John's College's famed "great books" program, which had only begun five years prior to this book's release.
Another potential list comes from the book Printing and the Mind of Man: A Descriptive Catalogue Illustrating the Impact of Print on the Evolution of Western Civilization During Five Centuries , published as a counterpart to, and expansion upon, the famous 1963 exhibition of the same name. This exhibition, split into three parts, accompanied the Eleventh International Printing Machinery and Allied Trades Exhibition ("IPEX") in London. Its Supervisory Committe states, "The purpose of the historical exhibitions annexed to IPEX 1963 is to illustrate the internal development of that invention [printing], in the technical progress of printing as a craft; the external development, in the finest achievements of printing as an art; and, beyond the limits of the art and craft of printing, to demonstrate the impact of printing on the mind of man and the effect it has had on the history of the last five hundred years." The first and third of these was displayed together at Earls Court, the second at the British Museum. Accordingly, a single catalog covered the Earls Court collection. Its title: Catalogue of a Display of Printing Mechanisms and Printed Materials Arranged to Illustrate the History of Western Civilization and the Means of the Multiplication of Literary Texts Since the XV Century. The title of the second part of the exhibition, at the British Museum, was An Exhibition of Fine Printing.
The aforementioned larger 1967 book includes only the items from the third part of the exhibition, but with some edits: no items from the exhibition were excluded, but "in certain cases [...] we have substituted as the main entry a more representative publication by the author included or an edition more significant for our purpose than the one exhibited; in others [...] we have combined two entries under one heading; in a number of cases [...] we have added, as sub-entries, publications by other authors, for the fuller exposition of the subject; and there are twelve additional entries." While the items in the first part include different types of presses, type moulds, and so on, the second part includes many items suitable for a list at this site. However, those entries were chosen because of the design of the printed object itself, not the historical significance of the literary work. Thus, the 1967 book alone would be used to construct a list; but it has 424 entries, and given that several of those include multiple works, it would make for one of the longer lists at Greater Books. It is on hold for now.