Professor Michael D.C. Drout of Wheaton College immerses listeners in the extraordinary legacy of Viking civilization, which developed in what is now Scandinavia during the early Middle Ages. During the course of these lectures, Professor Drout explores how these peoples conquered all of Northern Europe, traveled as far as Byzantium in the East and North America in the West, and left a literary legacy that includes numerous works studied and enjoyed to this day.
©2012 Michael D.C. Droutt (P)2012 Crescite Group, LLC
This is the fourth course by Professor Drout I've listened to and this may be my favorite. He enthusiastically covers the history of the culture, (religion, literature, language) and the politics of the Vikings (which he explains was a word that originally meant "a man who keeps his boat tied up in the creek behind his farm") and also their importance to European history as a whole.
He touches on a wide variety of subjects. But the lectures fly by and I found myself wishing the course was longer. I was never bored and I will re-listen to it several more times. I highly recommend this course.
Michael Drout is my personal favorite in the Modern Scholar series. Everything he does is fun and he usually speaks in some crazy language that makes your mouth gap in awe. If interested at all in the Vikings get it. Well worth the credit.
I loved all of the connections that Drout made. I've been on a medieval northern Europe kick after listening to a series of lectures on JRR Tolkein (and HIS connection to the medieval world) by Corey Olsen (one of which included a guest lecture by Professor Drout). I just love how Drout shows the evolution of our understanding of Vikings and their culture. He does a great job of connecting literature with actual events, as well as how those ideas developed into other pieces of art. Some other posts mentioned the lack of history, but the reading the literature is HOW we come to understand the history, so I feel that I got plenty of historical context here. I look forward to listening to other lectures by Mr. Drout.
Exploring JRR Tolkein's The Hobbit: Tolkein, the medievalist that he was, funneled many Norse ideas into his works. Obviously, that makes a connection to this set of lectures, as far as subject matter is concerned, but I'd compare the style of the book to these lectures, as well. Both authors are enthusiastic, interesting, and complete, without being confusing.
The narrator was enthusiastic and easy-to-follow. Of course, it helps that it was also the writer of the material. I felt like I was in a class with my favorite professor. Also, it was fantastic to hear Old Norse spoken aloud.
I have done a lot of recherche on "Nordic Culture" over the last 20 years and expected this course to "refresh" me from a different perspective. That is exactly what it did. I remembered why I got interested in those strange, funny, furious, free people. Michael Drout seems to "love" them just as well, his will to bridge the gap of time by trying to vocalize the language, his energy (though ignoring time frames and differences in geographic contexts) and the well delivered lectures (often starting with a common misconception / icon that is then revealed as a translation flaw or just poet's invention) make this course a must-have.
The course is short, much too short to even do the topic justice that Mr. Drout touches. This becomes more and more obvious when he constantly takes a short cut saying "but I won't get into this any further here" in the saga-related chapters.
Mr. Drout himself mentions that he would love to see movies being created from some of the sagas he quotes. While understanding why he feels this way, I cannot quite agree: Modern movies are based on very simple, very straight ideas and seemingly try to avoid ANY thinking on the audience's side. This approach obviously would never work with one of Mr. Drout's beloved Scandinavian sagas and he would most likely regret having mentioned his wish if he saw "Hollywood" picking up the idea :-)
That said, a tag line - provocative, sure - could be: They've been there, they've done that. All of it.
I love Mr. Drout's performances of Nordic and Germanic languages, although (being German) I did have my difficulties actually understanding some of the Germanic parts :-D
Nevertheless, by reciting (more or less original) texts Mr. Drout manages to give the listener a glimpse of the FEEL of how those people were, since your (spoken) language really tells a lot about you.
I would have wished for more details, especially on the differences between geographically separated groups of people. My own studies prepared me with some (good and bad) prejudices that I would have loved to challenge, alas there was no time.
Yes, the course does concentrate on literature - and is right in doing so, since archaeological proof is sparse. But there IS material that could be discussed. You CAN learn a lot about the life of someone if you have access to his clothing, the way he/she built houses and villages. There IS evidence that could have served the headline of this course better than written material that was created hundreds of years after the fact.
This topic is widely discussed among historians, and unfortunately Mr. Drout seems to ignore this, delivering what he considers "facts" as "reliable", even basing social critics on his personal view of (out of time frame) "constructed" literature. This was what I found disappointing, since it represents a branch of history education that does not care about facts. In other words: Written history is always faked by "victors". You don't get to hear the "other side" and, except in a very few side notes, Mr. Drout seems to ignore that "Understanding Vikings" (etc) is a more than questionable undertaking if your material is solely created by strangers, foreigners and people who did not understand (and did not WANT to understand) the social, philosophical and religious systems they were mocking about.
Viking stories and history are incredibly complicated. Sagas go on for so many generations it's difficult to follow, especially if, like me, you're really bad with names. Fortunately the stories here are presented with such flair, humor, and insight as to make them all the more accessible.
A lot of scholars lack the ability to tell a story with any competency. You wind up with very dry recounting of someone who begat someone else and so on with no real feeling for the narrative arc of the story or the ability to communicate the plot in a compelling manner. Prof. Drout, however, is so personable and and honest in his enthusiasm for the material one cannot help but be sucked in by it. He is strongly reminiscent of some of my favorite professors. They were the kind whose unmitigated joy and love for the material would pull you in such that you could not help being carried away along with them.
In preparing for trip Iceland I listened to a number of books and lectures on the country and its history. From all of them I gained only a small fraction of what I got from this single source. If you had any interest in the stories and history of Scandinavia, I strongly recommend checking out this lecture series.
Die Hubschrauber sind die Seelen von toten Panzern.
This is bit different view on the viking society and culture than others I have heard and read. And that is good, because history is complex science.I enjoyed fragments read in old norse. It was a glimpse into distinguished and beautiful language.
Yes I would, but with the proviso that Dr Drout seems to spend WAY too much time doing detailed synopses of the Viking literature, and far too little time on their actual history. I downloaded the book for HISTORY. While I'm that a goodly part of what historians must draw on is derived from the literature they left to us, the author spends too much time relating what happens in the epicss, which has limited value for someone who wants to know how the people lived, interacted with others, what lands they occupied, and how they impacted history. The book has limited value in that regard, and I'm somewhat disappointed.
The aurothor prefaces almost every chapter with a reading in the mother tongue. This is interesting, up to a point. After one round, OK I get it, the language is interesting and unique, but completely unintelligible. Simply not needed every chapter.
The Anglo-Saxon book was better.
Overall a very good effort by the author, I appreciate the studies and knowledge, I just wish there was less literature and more history.
Well. This book really has bits of useful info. But they are few and hard to find.
- Narration. Plain terrible. "like", "kind of", "well" are plentiful. As well as stupid jokes, probably intended to get attention of low audience(students I guess?).
- Half of the book is about author's analysis of Scandinavian literature. (this one has some interesting parts btw). But of course very opinionated and questionable.
- Almost no history. And it means NO history. Besides quick reflections on northern ship and again quick mentions of events.
Moreover when the author tells about mythology you literally feel his contempt to the subject.
Overall I would save money and not buy this for more than 2 cents or so.
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