Penguin Great Ideas

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Cover of book #9 in the Great Ideas Series.

Penguin Great Ideas is a series of largely non-fiction books published by Penguin Books. Titles contained within this series are considered to be world-changing, influential and inspirational. Topics covered include philosophy, politics, science and war. The texts for the series have been extracted from previously published Penguin Classics and Penguin Modern Classics titles and purged of all editorial apparatus so as to appear as stand-alone texts. The concept of re-purposed extracts was inspired by an earlier Penguin series produced in the mid-1990s, the Penguin's 60 Classics, which were extracts of classic texts published in a small book format at the time of Penguin's 60th anniversary.

The overall series is divided into five series of twenty books, each about a hundred pages long. Every book contains a notable essay, often by a very well known writer. Some of these are slightly shortened. The third series features additional works by the previous series' most popular writers: Albert Camus, Sigmund Freud, Søren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche, George Orwell and John Ruskin. The fourth series includes a third essay by Orwell, and additional works by Michel de Montaigne, Arthur Schopenhauer, Karl Marx and Virginia Woolf. The fifth series will be the last.[1]


Series One[edit]

All books in this series have a red spine and their covers use only black and red.

01. On the Shortness of Life - Seneca
02. Meditations - Marcus Aurelius
03. Confessions - Augustine
04. The Inner Life - Thomas à Kempis
05. The Prince - Niccolò Machiavelli
06. On Friendship - Michel de Montaigne
07. A Tale of a Tub - Jonathan Swift
08. The Social Contract - Jean-Jacques Rousseau
09. The Christians and the Fall of Rome - Edward Gibbon
10. Common Sense - Thomas Paine
11. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman - Mary Wollstonecraft
12. On the Pleasure of Hating - William Hazlitt
13. The Communist Manifesto - Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
14. On the Suffering of the World - Arthur Schopenhauer
15. On Art and Life - John Ruskin
16. On Natural Selection - Charles Darwin
17. Why I Am So Wise - Friedrich Nietzsche
18. A Room of One's Own - Virginia Woolf
19. Civilization and Its Discontents - Sigmund Freud
20. Why I Write - George Orwell

Series Two[edit]

All books in this series have a cyan spine and their covers use only black and cyan.

21. The First Ten Books - Confucius
22. The Art of War - Sun Tzu
23. The Symposium - Plato
24. Sensation and Sex - Lucretius
25. An Attack on the Enemy of Freedom - Cicero
26. The Revelation of St John the Divine and The Book of Job
27. Travels in the Land of Kublai Khan - Marco Polo
28. The City of Ladies - Christine de Pizan
29. How to Achieve True Greatness - Baldesar Castiglione
30. Of Empire - Francis Bacon
31. Of Man - Thomas Hobbes
32. Urne-Burial - Sir Thomas Browne
33. Miracles and Idolatry - Voltaire
34. On Suicide - David Hume
35. On the Nature of War - Carl von Clausewitz
36. Fear and Trembling - Søren Kierkegaard
37. Where I Lived, and What I Lived For - Henry David Thoreau
38. Conspicuous Consumption - Thorstein Veblen
39. The Myth of Sisyphus - Albert Camus
40. Eichmann and the Holocaust - Hannah Arendt

Series Three[edit]

All books in this series feature green as the spot colour.

41. In Consolation to his Wife - Plutarch
42. Some Anatomies of Melancholy - Robert Burton
43. Human Happiness - Blaise Pascal
44. The Invisible Hand - Adam Smith
45. The Evils of Revolution - Edmund Burke
46. Nature - Ralph Waldo Emerson
47. The Sickness Unto Death - Søren Kierkegaard
48. The Lamp of Memory - John Ruskin
49. Man Alone with Himself - Friedrich Nietzsche
50. A Confession - Leo Tolstoy
51. Useful Work versus Useless Toil - William Morris
52. The Significance of the Frontier in American History - Frederick Jackson Turner
53. Days of Reading - Marcel Proust
54. An Appeal to the Toiling, Oppressed and Exhausted Peoples of Europe - Leon Trotsky
55. The Future of an Illusion - Sigmund Freud
56. The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction - Walter Benjamin
57. Books v. Cigarettes - George Orwell
58. The Fastidious Assassins - Albert Camus
59. Concerning Violence - Frantz Fanon
60. The Spectacle of the Scaffold - Michel Foucault

Series Four[edit]

All books in this series feature purple as the spot colour.

61. Tao Te Ching - Lao-Tzu
62. Writings from the Zen Masters - Various
63. Utopia - Thomas More
64. On Solitude - Michel de Montaigne
65. On Power - William Shakespeare
66. Of the Abuse of Words - John Locke
67. Consolation in the Face of Death - Samuel Johnson
68. An Answer to the Question: What Is Enlightenment? - Immanuel Kant
69. The Executioner - Joseph de Maistre
70. Confessions of an English Opium-Eater - Thomas de Quincey
71. The Horrors and Absurdities of Religion - Arthur Schopenhauer
72. The Gettysburg Address - Abraham Lincoln
73. Revolution and War - Karl Marx
74. The Grand Inquisitor - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
75. On A Certain Blindness in Human Beings - William James
76. An Apology for Idlers - Robert Louis Stevenson
77. Of the Dawn of Freedom - W. E. B. Du Bois
78. Thoughts of Peace in an Air Raid - Virginia Woolf
79. Decline of the English Murder - George Orwell
80. Why Look at Animals? - John Berger

Series Five[edit]

All books in this series feature orange as the spot colour.

81. The Tao of Nature - Chuang Tzu
82. Of Human Freedom - Epictetus
83. On Conspiracies - Niccolò Machiavelli
84. Meditations - René Descartes
85. Dialogue Between Fashion and Death - Giacomo Leopardi
86. On Liberty - John Stuart Mill
87. Hosts of Living Forms - Charles Darwin
88. Night Walks - Charles Dickens
89. Some Extraordinary Popular Delusions - Charles Mackay
90. The State as a Work of Art - Jacob Burckhardt
91. Silly Novels by Lady Novelists - George Eliot
92. The Painter of Modern Life - Charles Baudelaire
93. The 'Wolfman' - Sigmund Freud
94. The Jewish State - Theodor Herzl
95. Nationalism - Rabindranath Tagore
96. Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism - Vladimir Ilyich Lenin
97. We Will All Go Down Fighting to the End - Winston Churchill
98. The Perpetual Race of Achilles and the Tortoise - Jorge Luis Borges
99. Some Thoughts on the Common Toad - George Orwell
100. An Image of Africa - Chinua Achebe


  1. ^ "Editor Simon Winder looks back on a curious attempt to make philosophy popular", The Penguin Blog, 1 September 2010, Archived from the original on October 26, 2012CS1 maint: unfit url (link)

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