On Nov 4, 2010, at 4:03 PM, Roberto Hoyle wrote:
> If you haven't read one of the books, doesn't that argue for it's lack of 'greatness?'
As Hamlet said, "Ay, there's the rub" because the definition of "greatness" is ambiguous. The items in the set of Great Books were selected because they:
...posses them [the great ideas] for a considerable
range of ideas, covering a variety of subject matters
or disciplines; *and among the great books the
greatest are those with the greatest range of
imaginative or intellectual content.* 
In other words, the Great Books are "great" because they discuss a wide variety of "great ideas" thoroughly. A great book, according to the Hutchins, is one that elaborate upon many of the core concepts debated throughout Western civilization.
Consequently, a great book can be one that no one has read but elaborates on many of the great ideas.
 Hutchins, Robert Maynard. 1952. Great books of the Western World. Chicago: Encyclopędia Britannica. Volume 3, page 1220.
Eric Lease Morgan
Hesburgh Libraries, University of Notre Dame