Walter Raleigh’s History of the World.is out of print. Is that the most famous work not currently available, or is there something else?

I offer a puzzle, to which I don’t know the answer:

What is the best-known literary work in English not currently in print?

I have a nominee: Sir Walter Raleigh’s History of the World. Temple University Press seems to have put out a one-volume addition (doubtless abridged) in 1972, but that seems to be it. Five-volume sets sell for between $1500 and $2000 at the antiquarian booksellers.

Amazingly, the University of California library system seems not to have a copy, outside its rare-book collections. Is the Raleigh’s prose just unreadable? That wasn’t his reputation. Inquiring minds want to know.

Anyway, if you can come up with a more famous document not in print, please let me know. The full set of James Branch Cabell’s Biography of the Life of Manuel has long been out of print, of course, but the well-known individual books from that set are all available.

Update: Hilzoy nominates Hakluyt’s Voyages.

Second update: Also in the running: Macaulay’s History of England and the Adams brothers’ Chapters of Erie. Seems to me Macaulay is the winner, so far.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com