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John

Harvard, MA, United States | Member Since 2005

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  • 20th-Century American Fiction

    • ORIGINAL (16 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Arnold Weinstein
    Overall
    (14)
    Performance
    (13)
    Story
    (13)

    Hemingway. Fitzgerald. Faulkner. These and other giants of literature are immediately recognizable to anyone who loves to read fiction and even to many who don't. Now, thanks to these 32 lectures, you can develop fresh insight into some of the greatest American authors of the 20th century. Professor Weinstein sheds light not only on the sheer magnificence of these writers' literary achievements but also explores their uniquely American character as well.

    Carolyn says: "No longer wasted on the young!"
    "Now what I expected"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What disappointed you about 20th-Century American Fiction?

    I expected a more general treatment of 20th century American fiction. In addition to Hemingway, Faulkner and Fitzgerald the following authors are covered: Sherwood Anderson, Zora Herston, Kurt Vonnegut, Flannery O'Connor, William Burroughs, Robert Coover, Toni Morrison, and Don Delilo. There is no mention of well known authors such as Wharton, Hersey, McCarthy, Roth, Ellison, Wright, Dos Passos, Malamud, Doctorow to name a few. Is Robert Coover more significant than these authors? I've talked to several English majors and they don't even know who he is. It turns out he's on the same faculty (Brown University) as the lecturer.
    The limited coverage of the course is accentuated because the lecturer covers essentially only one book per author. And the one book per author is not necessarily the most well known book of that author. For example, for Fitzgerald "Tender is the Night" is analyzed and not "The Great Gatsby" and for Morrison "Sula" instead of "Beloved".
    There is also an emphasis on extreme experimental novelists as opposed to the broad spectrum of American authors in the 20th century.
    To the lecturer's credit he does say in his first lecture that the course is not a survey course. But the course should have been described as such. So the course title could have been modified to indicate that e.g. Sample of Experimental 20th Century American Literature.
    If the course had been better described I would not have given it such a poor grade. But just as in an exam, if you don't answer the question you get a poor grade.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    Lectures on Broadway musicals


    What about Professor Arnold Weinstein’s performance did you like?

    He displayed an in depth understanding of the books that he covered. He was also enthusiastic describing and analyzing them.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Disappointment because I expected a broader treatment of 20th century American fiction.


    3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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