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. And now one of the world's foremost authorities on the literature of the fantastic and science fiction has created a series of 24 lectures that take you on a journey through some of the most remarkable feats of imagination in all of literature. You'll study strange tales of talking frogs and cannibal witches, from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein to Arthur C. Clarke's astonishing 2001: A Space Odyssey and beyond. Ranging from the early 1800s to contemporary times, Professor Rabkin casts a wide net for fantastic works and delves deeply into some of the most astonishing. You'll learn about the works and times of Edgar Allan Poe, the Brothers Grimm, Virginia Woolf, Lewis Carroll, Franz Kafka, Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, J.R.R. Tolkien, Ray Bradbury, Robert A. Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, and many others. And you'll see how artists you might not have even considered in this context - such as writers like Nathaniel Hawthorne, or composers like Offenbach and Tchaikovsky - owe a creative debt to this remarkably vibrant genre.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.
©2007 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2007 The Great Courses
This is a (by necessity) vary broad overview of the literary view of the history of... the fantastic, which is not by any stretch of the imagination fantasy. It starts with Grimm, puts them in a historical context, then moves through the history of... series literature, talking about examples where the surreal comes out. In the end, it presents a broad overview of the history of various sci fi genres and what they have to say about society.
It's very much a literary overview like you might find in a college class.
This was very deep into the literary criticism, and very deep into the sci fi. I was hoping for a more mythic structure look at things, and a broader survey of the fantastic. Instead, it focused mainly on extremely literary works, and took a very literary view of them. I was more hoping for a look of common themes and structures around what made them work as stories, rather than as literature, and also got snowballed by the 'fantastic'.
This is not meant as a criticism of the series, which was interesting, just a warning that a reasonably intelligent person misread the description.
I quite liked this course. The approach reminded me of other books from The great Courses by prof Robert Greenberg - presenting works and authors in a historical and artistic context. After listening to the course I am encouraged to explore further specific books or authors and read the books. Also, reading them after the course is more enjoyable compared to not having as much context.
If you're looking for concentrated learning about literature this is not the course to get, if instead you like fantasy as a genre and are would like a good foundation from where to explore new authors, then this course is a very enjoyable way to do it.
I didn't agree with some of the conclusions drawn in the early lectures, which isn't a big deal. Differences of opinion make for good dialogue. But - two of the later lectures touched on works I am very familiar with and made some rather obvious errors in relating the texts - which makes me wonder how many other errors were made re: books I am not as familiar with...
I can be summed up in one word. Handsome, intelligent, honest, humble, brave, exciting, fun, kind, trustworthy, sexy! All these words work.
This is a very interesting course. The lecturer is well read and very knowledgable. His speaking voice is easy on the ears and his enthusiasm for the topic is quite evident and infectious. I came away looking at books I've read in a different way and a list of seminal science fiction works I want to read in the future.
I have already listened to this lecture twice. The professor is knowledgeable and provides multiple theoretical view points. The subject matter ranges widely enough to keep you on your toes.
I thoroughly enjoyed his treatment of early fairy tales, Edgar Allan Poe, and Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass. These were by far the best parts of the discussion. Detailed and thought provoking, these discussions challenged the listener to reread many of these stories with a new perspective.
I also very much enjoyed his discussion and treatment of J.R. Tolkien as well as the Sci Fi genre.
Fantasy is a wonderful genre because it allows us to pull back from our assumptions about the world, examine issues and concepts we wouldn't normally question, and take a deeper look at our own selves.
One of the best courses I have ever had the pleasure to listen to. This is an experience. Professor Rabkin knows his stuff, but most importantly - knows how to pass on that information. Loved it !!!!!
If you're someone who wants to learn about the vaginal symbolism of The Pit and the Pendulum, or you want to hear about the significance of the fact that John Carter and Jesus Christ share the same initials. Seriously, those are both supposedly cogent points that the lecturer makes in this series.
Another lecture series, but one less based around opinion.
The early lectures around the academic research that has been done around folk tales were interesting.
The series of lectures by Professor Rabkin are very interesting as a survey of Fantasy in literature. I learned a lot about the relationship between early folklore and myth and how it relates to and is still very much alive in the fiction of today. The problem I had was that Rabkin, stutters and mis-speaks having to backtrack and correct himself too often making this sometimes hard to listen to. I would understand this in a live lecture but this is recorded specifically for the audio book. Edit and do retakes please!
start well, but it get bogged down in sci-fi problematics which, though interesting and complementary, do not exhaust the title subject. maybe 24 chapters are not enough.
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