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The Great Books of Western Civilization, also known as the Western Canon, was developed by a group of educators led by John Erskine of Columbia University in the 1920s and 1930s. Mortimor Adler, a Catholic, was part of the group. The idea for the Canon arose from the belief that the philosophical, logical and rhetorical were important foundations for all other subjects of study.
The original list of 100 Great Books has been considered the "official" Canon even though the list was considered by its creators as a suggested list of essential topics instead of as a definitive list.