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 provides you with a rare opportunity to step beyond the surface of Britain's grand literary masterpieces and experience the times and conditions they came from and the diverse issues with which their writers grappled.
The unique insights Professor Sutherland shares about how and why these works succeed as both literature and documents of Britain's social and political history can forever alter the way you experience a novel, poem, or play.
More than just a survey, these lectures reveal how Britain's cultural landscape acted upon its literature and how, in turn, literature affected the cultural landscape. Professor Sutherland takes a historical approach to the wealth of works explored in these lectures, grounding them in specific contexts and often connecting them with one another.
All the great writers that come to mind when you think of British literature are here, along with unique looks at their most popular and powerful works. You also enjoy the company of less-familiar voices and contemporary authors who continue to take literature into new territories.
Disclaimer: Please note that this recording may include references to supplemental texts or print references that are not essential to the program and not supplied with your purchase.
©2008 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2008 The Great Courses
This audiobook was an enjoyable summary of British Literature from its inception with Beowulf in the dark ages up to the 21st century. As a general rule it was very entertaining, giving the background stories of the authors and describing how their lives and historical circumstances produced their writing. It was fascinating to hear the about the lives of Austen, the Brontes, Dickens and Hardy.
I found myself zoning out a few times when poetry was the topic. I don’t think this is the fault of the lecturer, poetry just doesn’t really do it for me, although I found the lives of Keats and Byron to be interesting and First World War poetry has always seemed more poignant to me than poetry about love or beauty. As for Milton and Paradise Lost, I still don’t get it even now, even after it has been explained to me.
My overall verdict is that this is an interesting audiobook and, at 25 hours duration, well worth the price of the credit.
"Comprehensive Survey of English Literature"
John Sutherland is probably already known to you as an author and critic.
Here, he presents a series of 48 short (30 minute) lectures on English Literature from Beowulf, Chaucer and (of course) Shakespeare up to the 20th Century (Samuel Beckett, John Osborne, and Harold Pinter etc.), talking about some of the best poetry and prose ever written - in any language.
Sutherland's informal, conversational style engages the listener, and also makes the lectures ideal for listening to whilst doing other tasks.
If you are interested in English Literature, this is a brilliant introduction.
Tip: The introduction to these lectures mentions course material which isn't supplied with the audiobook download. Whilst this material isn't essential it can be viewed on The Great Courses website.
"Perfect for Newcomers to Serious Literature"
My school education involved a shockingly scant coverage of English Literature. This course has really helped to fill this gap, and in a thoroughly engaging and enjoyable way. In common with other top lecturers from the Great Courses, Professor Sutherland injects his lectures with his own personality making the material easy to follow. I strongly recommend looking at the lecture titles on the Great Courses web site to see what books/genres are covered. It's very wide ranging and really did have the effect of making me want to read (or actually listen, via audible) to some of the literature covered. I suspect that this course might seem superficial to someone who has done a lot of literature study before (e.g. a former English major) but for me (a mathematics major) it was absolutely perfect.
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