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The Great Courses: Literature & Language


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  • Classics of Russian Literature

    • ORIGINAL (17 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Irwin Weil
    Overall
    (99)
    Performance
    (94)
    Story
    (92)

    Russian literature famously probes the depths of the human soul, and in this series of 36 insightful lectures prepared by a frequently honored teacher legendary among educators in both the United States and Russia-you probe just as deeply into the extraordinary legacy that is Russian Literature itself.Professor Weil introduces you to masterpieces such as Tolstoy's War and Peace, Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment, Pushkin's Eugene Onegin, Gogol's Dead Souls, Chekhov's The Seagull, Pasternak's Doctor Zhivago, and many other great novels, stories, plays, and poems.

    Cookie says: "This is really special!"
  • Shakespeare's Tragedies

    • ORIGINAL (12 hrs)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Clare R. Kinney
    Overall
    (47)
    Performance
    (42)
    Story
    (42)

    Shakespeare's contributions to stage and language are unequaled, audiences left breathless for the past four centuries, his artistry as evident in moments of insensate rage as it is in moments of heartbreaking tenderness.

    Dan says: "Enlightening and well presented"
  • Masterpieces of Ancient Greek Literature

    • ORIGINAL (18 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor David J. Schenker
    Overall
    (38)
    Performance
    (32)
    Story
    (32)

    The ancient Greeks left the world that came after them-particularly our own and our ways of seeing it-an incalculable legacy. Mention politics, philosophy, law, medicine, history, even the visual arts, and we barely scratch the surface of what we owe this extraordinary culture. How can we best learn about these people who have given us so much, who have deepened and enriched our understanding of ourselves, and whose world remains far closer than we might imagine? The 36 lectures of this sparkling series from a frequently honored teacher is an outstanding place to begin.

    Bernie Cullen says: "Excellent course"
  • The English Novel

    • ORIGINAL (12 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Timothy Spurgin
    Overall
    (41)
    Performance
    (37)
    Story
    (37)

    Who can imagine life without novels? They have served not merely as diversions but as companions for so much of our lives, offering hours of pleasure and, at their best, insights few of us can ever quantify. But the simple joy of reading novels sometimes obscures our awareness of the deeper roles they play in our lives: honing our intellect, quenching our emotional thirsts, and shaping our sense of ourselves and of the world we live in.

    DHW says: "Informative and enjoyable!"
  • Joyce's Ulysses

    • ORIGINAL (12 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor James A. W. Heffernan
    Overall
    (104)
    Performance
    (98)
    Story
    (95)

    Ulysses depicts a world that is as fully conceived and vibrant as anything in Homer or Shakespeare. It has been delighting and puzzling readers since it was first published on Joyce's 40th birthday in 1922. And here, Professor Heffernan maps the brilliance, passion, humanity, and humor of Joyce's modern Odyssey in these 24 lectures that finally make a beguiling literary masterpiece accessible for any reader willing to give it a chance.

    SydSavvy says: "For Inquiring Minds"
  • Herodotus: The Father of History

    • ORIGINAL (12 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Elizabeth Vandiver
    Overall
    (76)
    Performance
    (67)
    Story
    (67)

    Witness the "works and wonders" of the ancient world through the eyes of its first great historian in this sparkling series of 24 lectures from a much-honored teacher and classical scholar.Herodotus (c. 484-420 B.C.E.) was a Greek who was born in what is now the modern Turkish resort town of Bodrum and who died, so tradition says, in the south of Italy. In between, his tirelessly inquiring mind took him from one corner of the known world to another.

    Betsy says: "Really Loved It"
  • Myth in Human History

    • ORIGINAL (18 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Grant L. Voth
    Overall
    (261)
    Performance
    (231)
    Story
    (233)

    Myths provide the keys to truly grasping the ways that principles, rituals, codes, and taboos are woven into the fabric of a particular society or civilization. It's through myths that we can answer these and other fundamental questions: How was the universe created, and why? What is the purpose of evil? Why is society organized the way it is? How did natural features like rivers, mountains, and oceans emerge?This entertaining and illuminating course plunges you into the world's greatest myths.

    Walter says: "Five stars, with some caveats"
  • The Aeneid of Virgil

    • ORIGINAL (6 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Elizabeth Vandiver
    Overall
    (113)
    Performance
    (103)
    Story
    (101)

    The Aeneid is the great national epic of ancient Rome, and one of the most important works of literature ever written. And with Professor Vandiver's 12 instructive lectures, you'll enter fully into the gripping tale that Virgil tells. Join Aeneas on his long journey west from ruined Troy to the founding of a new nation in Italy, and see how he weaves a rich network of compelling human themes. Your encounter with the Aeneid focuses on careful, detailed examinations of the epic's background, main themes, and significant episodes.

    Tommy D'Angelo says: "Easy Listening and a very solid course!"
  • The Life and Writings of Geoffrey Chaucer

    • ORIGINAL (6 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By The Great Courses, Seth Lerer
    • Narrated By Professor Seth Lerer
    Overall
    (16)
    Performance
    (15)
    Story
    (14)

    Geoffrey Chaucer is one of our grandest and most enduring poets; an architect of our vocabulary and our literary style. By examining the English writer's texts, from his short love lyrics to the copious profusion of character and incident that is The Canterbury Tales, these 12 lectures will prepare you for the challenges of Chaucer's oeuvre, and will provide an understanding of what makes him the true "father" of English poetry.

    Mary Elizabeth Reynolds says: "Not much about the life of Chaucer"
  • The Life and Writings of John Milton

    • ORIGINAL (6 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By The Great Courses, Seth Lerer
    • Narrated By Professor Seth Lerer
    Overall
    (18)
    Performance
    (17)
    Story
    (14)

    There is no disputing that John Milton is considered one of the supreme writers in the history of English letters. Yet, for a number of reasons, many modern readers are unaware of the pleasures of his poetry and prose. These 12 lectures examine Milton's life and work in order to understand the richness and depth of his poetry, its ways of representing 17th-century English life and culture, and its impact on later writers and on English literary history as a whole.

    Ernest says: "Good overview of Milton and Paradise Lost"
  • Classic Novels: Meeting the Challenge of Great Literature

    • ORIGINAL (18 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Arnold Weinstein
    Overall
    (61)
    Performance
    (55)
    Story
    (53)

    What if you could travel anywhere, whether Europe, South America, or the remote reaches of the African continent? And what if you could choose not only your destination, but your era, as well-so that you might choose from the sparkling court society of 18th-century France, a 19th-century whaling ship out of New Bedford, or the streets of Dublin in the early part of the 20th century?

    W Perry Hall says: "No Course Credit; Just Ivy League Lit Appreciation"
  • Literary Modernism: The Struggle for Modern History

    • ORIGINAL (6 hrs and 13 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Jeffrey Perl
    Overall
    (35)
    Performance
    (31)
    Story
    (30)

    Professor Perl invites you in these eight lectures to abandon your preconceptions and consider some of the most controversial authors of the 20th century: the Modernists.Who were they? How did "classical" Modernists like Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot, and James Joyce differ from "neo-Modernists" like Gertrude Stein and William Carlos Williams? What made them believe and write as they did? Why were political extremism, war, and self-destructive behavior such defining forces in their writing (and their personal demons)? What do they have to say to us today in the 21st century?These lectures place literary Modernism within the wide-ranging context of the philosophy, literature, politics, and morality of its time. In doing so, they allow you to look more clearly at the writers and works who have contributed to the definition of human culture. You'll see Eliot, Joyce, Pound, Yeats, James, Lawrence, and others spring to life with their radical beliefs about art and their unforgettable novels and stories. These lectures do not shrink from the challenges imposed by exploring Modernism, or from challenging the answers that scholars have routinely accepted. Nor do they shy away from the difficulties of literary Modernism itself; a literary genre that intimidates many. But despite all this, these lectures are brilliantly organized, crystal clear, and an invaluable tool for finally wrapping your brain around a dramatic roster of authors and an enduring canon of literature.

    Peregrine says: "Fine record of Perl's thinking"
  • Understanding Literature and Life: Drama, Poetry and Narrative

    • ORIGINAL (32 hrs and 49 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Arnold Weinstein
    Overall
    (81)
    Performance
    (73)
    Story
    (75)

    The major texts of Western culture are a gateway to wisdom that can widen your views on self and society in enduring ways. And now you can examine its most important works - whether drama, poetry, or narrative - in this series of 64 penetrating lectures that reveal astonishing common ground.

    AnneNorton says: "Great Course, Great Professor, Great Book!"
  • The Lives and Works of the English Romantic Poets

    • ORIGINAL (12 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Willard Spiegelman
    Overall
    (28)
    Performance
    (25)
    Story
    (25)

    The verse of the English Romantic poets is as daunting in its scope and complexity as it is dazzling in its technique and beautiful in its language. Now, in a series of 24 incisive lectures by an honored and distinguished teacher, scholar, and author, you can grasp how England's finest Romantic voices created their masterpieces.

  • Masterpieces of the Imaginative Mind: Literature's Most Fantastic Works

    • ORIGINAL (12 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Eric S. Rabkin
    Overall
    (102)
    Performance
    (90)
    Story
    (87)

    Many of literature's greatest works, from ancient myths to the works of Nobel laureates, rely on fantasy. Even when there has been a dominant preference for realism, generation after generation of readers have been drawn to stories of the fantastic-not only for what they help us learn about ourselves as individuals or as members of society, but also for what they show about our social values.

    Eusebio says: "Literature appreciation"
  • Representing Justice: Stories of Law and Literature

    • ORIGINAL (12 hrs and 1 min)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Susan Sage Heinzelman
    Overall
    (6)
    Performance
    (6)
    Story
    (6)

    What is the dynamic relationship between our culture's written and unwritten laws and its literature? How is that relationship evolving? How do law and literature influence or reflect one other? And what lessons might we draw from their symbiotic relationship?

  • The Odyssey of Homer

    • ORIGINAL (6 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Elizabeth Vandiver
    Overall
    (183)
    Performance
    (163)
    Story
    (161)

    What is it in Homer's Odyssey that has so enthralled readers from around the world for thousands of years? By joining Professor Vandiver for these 12 lectures on the Odyssey, you'll find out why.This literary exploration centers on a single provocative question about the epic poem's protagonist, Odysseus: Why does he long so powerfully to go home? To probe the depths of this question, you'll embark on meticulous, insightful examinations of the most important episodes in the Odyssey.

    Betsy says: "Enjoyable"
  • Medieval Heroines in History and Legend

    • ORIGINAL (12 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Bonnie Wheeler
    Overall
    (40)
    Performance
    (37)
    Story
    (36)

    This series of 24 fascinating lectures draws on the latest modern scholarship to explore the lives of four medieval women who still shimmer in the modern imagination: Heloise, the abbess and mistress of Abelard; the prophet Hildegard of Bingen; Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine; and Joan of Arc. These lectures exemplify today's golden age of medieval scholarship, in which the role women played in medieval life is being clarified for the first time.

    Rebecca Mann says: "Very interesting but awkwardly told"
  • Emerson, Thoreau, and the Transcendentalist Movement

    • ORIGINAL (12 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Ashton Nichols
    Overall
    (44)
    Performance
    (35)
    Story
    (35)

    The America we know today is so different in its fundamental views about almost every aspect of life as to be unrecognizable to our countrymen of two centuries ago. On issues as divergent as slavery, women's rights, education, the environment, and many others, we are simply no longer the country we were.What is the source of not only these changes, but of our distinctly American way of experiencing ourselves-confident in our value as individuals, certain of our ability to discover truths, self-reliant in the face of uncertainty and change?

    Ray says: "Dry subject matter made interesting"
  • Classics of British Literature

    • ORIGINAL (24 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor John Sutherland
    Overall
    (99)
    Performance
    (89)
    Story
    (87)

    For more than 1,500 years, the literature of Great Britain has taught, nurtured, thrilled, outraged, and humbled readers both inside and outside its borders.Chaucer, Shakespeare, Dickens, Austen, Swift, Conrad, Wilde-the roster of powerful British writers is remarkable. More important, Britain's writers have long challenged readers with new ways of understanding an ever-changing world.This series of 48 fascinating lectures by an award-winning professor.

    Mark says: "The Best of British"
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