Hoppa till textinnehållet
Introduction Literature What is canon?

What is a canon?

A special category of literature is the literary canon which takes the concept of great literature a step further. According to the American Heritage Dictionary a canon is “a group of works which are authoritative” and “a basis for judgment; standard; criterion”. When deciding which literary works should be a part of a literary canon questions that come to mind are who has the authority to decide; and, also, which criteria shall be used. There are many possible answers to these questions with the result that there is not just one canon.

Some say that the criteria for being included among canonical works should be purely aesthetic and not involve morality or the formation of social or political values in the reader. Others claim that originality of form, content and perspective, as well as the influence a literary work has had in shaping the thought of its time are essential for inclusion in the canon. Another decisive factor could be simply that many people find the book worth reading.

Which books would you include?


To see a definition of canon (Fall 1997)

A Beginner’s Canon (An Introduction to the Literary Canon)

The Western Canon (Harold Bloom's 'Western Canon')

The Harvard Classics (The Harvard Classics Shelf of Fiction)

The Great Book (Access The Great Books)

Great Books of the Western World (How to Read a Book)

The 100 Most Influential Books Ever Written (Robert Teeter's Home Page)

2004 Nationellt centrum för flexibelt lärande Uppdaterad: 2006-04-20