Such a sweet book. The kindly, grandfatherly voice of the narrator really made you feel like you were being read to before bed. It gives a broad account of world history, though the focus is very much on Europe. Still, a great history refresher and a total pleasure to listen to.
Having made the regrettable mistake of not studying Literature in college, I am trying to make up for lost time by purchasing lectures on the topic and reading classics. So when I saw this book, that promised to teach Western Literature "in all its politically incorrect glory," I was really excited. I want to study Literature, not politics! I hoped that finally, I'd have an unbiased, unpoliticized view of Literature from someone passionate about it.
Sadly, this book is very much about politics, of the most bitter variety. Kantor has a bone to pick with all those Marxist English professors. And having fled the USSR as a refugee, I am no Marxist. But gees, I want to hear about Literature, not about how flawed the modern leftist movement is. And the vitriol! Even the narrator, in an effort to capture the smugness of the author, sounds like he has a stick up his bottom.
It was just stressful to listen to this book. It was so mean-spirited against an enemy I've never encountered (I majored in a science -- not many Marxists there), filled with irrelevant digressions into current events. It turned out to be the very thing for which it claimed to be an antidote -- an injection of unnecessary politics into classic Literature.
I kept giving it second and third chances, but had to stop, at last, when Kantor suggested that the best way for today's society to prevent date rape is to teach its women not to drink. The irrelevance of this when discussing Chaucer was only half the trouble.
If you're in the same predicament as me, I highly recommend Professor Michael Drout's lectures (from the Modern Scholar series). He is someone passionate about English Literature and actually speaks ancient English dialects -- something even that curmudgeon, Elizabeth Kantor, would commend.
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