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Classics of Russian Literature Lecture

Classics of Russian Literature

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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.

In all, you plunge into more than 40 works by a dozen writers, from Aleksandr Pushkin in the 19th century to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in the 20th century. You also investigate the origin of Russian literature itself, which traces its lineage back to powerful epic poetry and beautiful renderings of the Bible into Slavic during the Middle Ages.

All of these works are treated in translation, but Professor Weil does something very unusual in the literature-in-translation arena. For almost every passage that he quotes in English, he reads an extract in the original Russian, with a fluent accent and an actor's sense of drama.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.

©2006 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2006 The Great Courses

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4.5 (82 )
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4.6 (77 )
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Story
4.6 (79 )
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  •  
    Cookie Anacortes, WA, United States 08-12-13
    Cookie Anacortes, WA, United States 08-12-13 Member Since 2014

    Cookie

    HELPFUL VOTES
    458
    ratings
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    "This is really special!"

    Who was Gorky? What made Tolstoy tick? Why was Pushkin a great poet?
    If you have any interest at all in great literature, get this course! Prof. Weil not only delivers a compelling study of these and many other authors, but does so in English and Russian (which he speaks so beautifully you might feel compelled to try it yourself). The history and literature of this tragic country has never been told with such understanding and respect ( governments not withstanding). I can not recommend enough! Get this book! But be ready, now its time to listen to War and Peace, Dr Zhivago, The Brother Karamazov, and The Gulag Archipelago, and about fifteen others! Can't wait!

    16 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nate Jackson, MS, United States 01-01-14
    Nate Jackson, MS, United States 01-01-14 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    195
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    "Excellent Course, But Gaping Hole Without Bulgakov"

    Leaving Bulgakov out of a Russian Lit Lineup is pretty much akin to leaving Iron Man out of an Avengers movie.

    That aside, I loved this course. The only downside was the lack of coverage of Bulgakov, as a result of his being banned for so long in the Soviet Union (and virtually unknown in the west at the time the professor was working on his PhD). The author didn't so much as mention him.

    This covers everyone from Pushkin to Solzhenitsyn, providing incredible historical context, perfectly pronounced Russian phrases and poems, and an in-depth walk through *almost* all the best Russian works.

    I lived in Ukraine for 10 years, and this course still opened my eyes to a lot more about the Russian culture I was unaware of. It's brilliant, funny, educational, and insightful. Anyone vaguely interested in the history and/or literature of this part of the world should pick this up now. 36 amazing half-hour lectures for one credit is a steal!

    12 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Malcolm 12-08-15
    Malcolm 12-08-15 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Brings subject to life beautifully"

    Great mental images while listening, although I wish he had spelled out a lot of the names. That's basically my only complaint, overall I have learned a lot and been inspired by this lecture series.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kimberley EUGENE, OR, United States 11-17-15
    Kimberley EUGENE, OR, United States 11-17-15 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Russian Lit Lovers' Enrichment"

    Great lecture series if you love Russian lit and can't take a college course. Rich stories of the writers and there historical times. Excellent.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anton 06-18-15
    Anton 06-18-15
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "I'm Russian and I absolutely like this course"

    I'm Russian and I've studied Russian literature in school. And I didn't expect much from this book, as the author is American. But it exceeded my expectations greatly. The course is somewhat different from what they tell you in Russian school, but it's very deep, full of respect to Russian language and Russian people, and it explains the historical and cultural context behind every book. Absolutely great listening.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ramona S Stirling Utah 03-04-15
    Ramona S Stirling Utah 03-04-15 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Totally enjoyable."

    I'm headed to Russia in a few months. I have read several Russian novels over the course of my life but wanted to learn more. This teacher was so pleasant to listen to. I learned a lot, and will read more Russian novels. You don't need to be a scholar to enjoy this course.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    riverdog 03-15-16
    riverdog 03-15-16 Member Since 2015
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    "A Pleasurable Journey"
    Would you listen to Classics of Russian Literature again? Why?

    I would listen to Classics of Russian Literature again just to hear the professor's wonderful recitations of excerpts in Russian. It was also a very enjoyable stroll through a rich field of literature.


    What other book might you compare Classics of Russian Literature to and why?

    Given the amount of time available, it is understandably less in depth than, but comparable to, histories of Russian literature by Mirsky, Fennell, and Cizevskij. Its approach might be compared to Harold Bloom's Novelists and Novels.


    What about Professor Irwin Weil’s performance did you like?

    The professor's delivery was a delight. Hearing the sound of particular passages in Russian added an entirely new level of interest, insight and pleasure. I also liked the brief supplements of perspective provided by his personal experiences.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    I found I got more out of the book by listening to one or two chapters at a time and taking some time to digest them before moving on to discussion about the next author. The professor did a good job of tailoring each chapter to keep it fulfilling.


    Any additional comments?

    I wish he would do a second volume with chapters dedicated to writers like Leskov, Bulgakov, Babel, Bunin, Lermontov, Garshin, Griboyedov, Herzen, Nabokov and Saltykov-Shchedrin.The only reason I didn't give Story a fifth star is I would have increased the ratio of interpretation to plot summary, but all in all I found the experience to be marvelous and I want more!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Deep Reader 04-13-14
    Deep Reader 04-13-14

    Learn, understand, then decide whether you accept or reject.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Should have read some Russian literature first"

    While the professor displays a solid grasp over the subject matter, I found my mind wandering off during some of the slower parts. There are interesting parts regarding how writers and literature affected communism and Russian society, and it does show a large diversity in themes and approaches to storytelling.

    2 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    I.S. from CT 03-08-16 Member Since 2013
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    "Mixed impression: Enthusiastic but inaccurate"
    What did you love best about Classics of Russian Literature?

    Professor Weil is extremely enthusiastic about the subject and very creative in the delivery of his lectures. He is passionate about Russian literature in the highest degree. If you are looking for an introductory and colorful monologue about Russian writers and books this lecture set is the best beginning. Listening to these lectures was really very entertaining. I liked his singing (yes, he sings occasionally during lectures!) and declamations of poetry in Russian.


    Would you be willing to try another book from The Great Courses? Why or why not?

    I like The Great Courses lectures. Own many of them mostly on the topic of religion, history, and literature


    Any additional comments?

    Unfortunately, I have to add some negativity to my comments to explain my three stars. I happened to know very well Russian classical literature and Russian history of XIX and XX century. During the course of these lectures I was for so many times taken aback by all kinds of errors, inaccuracies, and misrepresentations in author biographies, writings, citations, historical facts, and their analysis that I ended up with more negative opinion than I hoped for. Many of Professor Weil's historical excursions and literature analysis are based on stale stereotypes and Soviet time assumptions, myths created either in Soviet Russia by authorities as well as by the opposition or in the West.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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  • Alexander Sutherland
    UK
    8/26/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Super!"
    If you could sum up Classics of Russian Literature in three words, what would they be?

    Very impressed by this overview of Russian literature. Not only the content of these lectures, but I love Irwin Weil's enthusiasm which is immediately apparent and can't help but draw you in. Great stuff!!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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