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At the turn of the 20th century there was increased interest in bringing the benefits of a liberal arts education to the general public. A number of prominent leaders in the field of education, including such personages as Charles W. Eliot (who was the president of Harvard), edited various works that were thought to stand as representative as the best and most valuable writings down through the centuries. One such legendary set was the 50-volume, "Five-Foot Shelf" of books and then the 20-volume Shelf of Fiction. Published originally between 1909 and 1917, The Harvard Classics and the Harvard Classics Shelf of Fiction comprised much of what was (and is) great in the field of literary endeavor. The people at Bartleby.com have placed the entire set online for the general public, along with the special volume of lectures originally composed for the set that introduce the reader to some of the primary themes of these works. On this site, visitors will find various works as the pensive observations offered by Marcus Aurelius in his Meditations and Oliver Goldsmith's She Stoops To Conquer. Additionally, the Shelf of Fiction section contains such important works as Vanity Fair by Thackeray and two short stories by the celebrated French author Guy de Maupassant.
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