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The Great Courses: Western Literature
Books in series18
ORIGINAL
(4.3 based on 536 ratings)
  • The Iliad of Homer

    • ORIGINAL (6 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Elizabeth Vandiver
    Overall
    (47)
    Performance
    (41)
    Story
    (39)

    For thousands of years, Homer's ancient epic poem the Iliad has enchanted readers from around the world. When you join Professor Vandiver for this lecture series on the Iliad, you'll come to understand what has enthralled and gripped so many people.Her compelling 12-lecture look at this literary masterpiece -whether it's the work of many authors or the "vision" of a single blind poet - makes it vividly clear why, after almost 3,000 years, the Iliad remains not only among the greatest adventure stories ever told but also one of the most compelling meditations on the human condition ever written.

    Elan says: "Vandiver never disappoints"
    Vandiver never disappoints

    When I first read the Iliad of Homer on my own, I thought it a hyper-violent war story with deeply unsympathetic characters who let petty disputes plu..Show More »

    Reviewed on July 23 2013 by Elan (Cerritos, CA, United States)
  • Dante's Divine Comedy

    • ORIGINAL (12 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Ronald B. Herzman, Professor William R. Cook
    Overall
    (32)
    Performance
    (28)
    Story
    (29)

    Professors Cook and Herzman provide you with an illuminating introduction to one of the greatest works ever written. One of the most profound and satisfying of all poems, The Divine Comedy (or Commedia) of Dante Alighieri is a book for life. In a brilliantly constructed narrative of his imaginary guided pilgrimage through the three realms of the Christian afterlife, Dante accomplished a literary task of astonishing complexity. In these twenty-four lectures, as you follow Dante on his journey, you'll learn how medieval literature offers insights into fundamental questions.

    Patti says: "The Commedia for Modern Readers"
    The Commedia for Modern Readers

    Yes I will definitely listen to this again. Its chalk full of information on the symbolism, characters, and political climate that existed in Italy a..Show More »

    Reviewed on August 25 2013 by Patti (Richmond, VA, United States)
  • Classical Mythology

    • ORIGINAL (12 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Elizabeth Vandiver
    Overall
    (146)
    Performance
    (128)
    Story
    (125)

    These 24 lectures are a vibrant introduction to the primary characters and most important stories of classical Greek and Roman mythology. Among those you'll investigate are the accounts of the creation of the world in Hesiod's Theogony and Ovid's Metamorphoses; the gods Zeus, Apollo, Demeter, Persephone, Hermes, Dionysos, and Aphrodite; the Greek heroes, Theseus and Heracles (Hercules in the Roman version); and the most famous of all classical myths, the Trojan War.

    Michelle says: "Great"
    Great

    Fascinating lecture on classical mythology. Vandiver is entertaining and realistic in her approach and I would be delighted to listen to more of her l..Show More »

    Reviewed on October 13 2013 by Michelle (OVIEDO, FL, United States)
  • The Skeptic's Guide to the Great Books

    • ORIGINAL (6 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Grant L. Voth
    Overall
    (7)
    Performance
    (6)
    Story
    (6)

    Daunted by the "great big books" of the Western canon? Looking for the same pleasures, satisfactions, and insights from books that are shorter, more accessible, and less dependent on classical references and difficult language than tomes such as Moby-Dick and Ulysses?

    There are no listener reviews for this title yet.

  • Understanding Literature and Life: Drama, Poetry and Narrative

    • ORIGINAL (32 hrs and 49 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Arnold Weinstein
    Overall
    (13)
    Performance
    (11)
    Story
    (12)

    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.

    Saud says: "Could have been more"
    Could have been more

    This is an analysis of a select few classic literary works and discussing the themes within it to a contemporary audience, with a consideration of the..Show More »

    Reviewed on February 14 2014 by Saud (United States)
  • Greek Tragedy

    • ORIGINAL (12 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Elizabeth Vandiver
    Overall
    (12)
    Performance
    (12)
    Story
    (11)

    Greek tragedy was a dramatic form that flourished for less than a full century. And yet it remains vibrant, alive, and productive today. And the form's masterpieces help us-as perhaps they helped their original audiences-grasp a fuller sense of the terror and wonder of life. Professor Vandiver has designed these 24 rich and rewarding lectures to give you a full overview of Greek tragedy, both in its original setting and as a lasting contribution to the artistic exploration of the human condition.

    Joshua says: "Theatre History Done Right!"
    Theatre History Done Right!

    Professor Elizabeth Vandiver provides a clear and succinct portrayal of Greek Tragedy. The lectures discuss how tragedy was developed, the three extan..Show More »

    Reviewed on October 19 2013 by Joshua (ASBURY, NJ, United States)
  • From Plato to Post-modernism: Understanding the Essence of Literature and the Role of the Author

    • ORIGINAL (12 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Louis Markos
    Overall
    (6)
    Performance
    (4)
    Story
    (5)

    Any lover of Shakespeare or the Romantic poets can concede that poetry is pleasurable. But is it good for you? Can it teach you anything? These are questions that have beguiled and engaged eminent critics for millennia, and now you can develop your own answers and options with these 24 lectures.

    Madeleine says: "Very good until it it gets to the 20th Century"
    Very good until it it gets to the 20th Century

    Professor Markos is a passionate teacher on the history of poetry. I was a little disappointed that he was only covering poetry when I started the cou..Show More »

    Reviewed on April 12 2014 by Madeleine (London, United Kingdom)
  • The Odyssey of Homer

    • ORIGINAL (6 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Elizabeth Vandiver
    Overall
    (33)
    Performance
    (30)
    Story
    (29)

    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.

    Saud says: "Another Great Course of a Greak Greek Classic"
    Another Great Course of a Greak Greek Classic
    Reviewed on January 14 2014 by Saud (United States)
  • The Aeneid of Virgil

    • ORIGINAL (6 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Elizabeth Vandiver
    Overall
    (20)
    Performance
    (18)
    Story
    (18)

    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.

    There are no listener reviews for this title yet.

  • Great Authors of the Western Literary Tradition, 2nd Edition

    • ORIGINAL (42 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Elizabeth Vandiver, Professor James A. W. Heffernan
    Overall
    (31)
    Performance
    (25)
    Story
    (26)

    From the anonymous author of the Epic of Gilgamesh in ancient Mesopotamia to William Faulkner writing about Mississippi 3,600 years later, many of Western culture's greatest figures have been writers. Their landmark themes, unique insights into human nature, dynamic characters, experimental storytelling techniques, and rich philosophical ideas helped create the vibrant storytelling methods we find reflected in today's authors.

    Bryan says: "Great Authors Without the Term Papers"
    Great Authors Without the Term Papers

    This really is like sitting in on great professors' lectures, but without having all the term papers and finals that go with the classes. I was skepti..Show More »

    Reviewed on September 11 2013 by Bryan (DEXTER, MO, United States)
  • The Western Literary Canon in Context

    • ORIGINAL (18 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor John M. Bowers
    Overall
    (5)
    Performance
    (4)
    Story
    (4)

    What exactly is the Western literary canon? Why does it contain certain works and not others? And what do particular works in the Western canon tell us about the development of literature and civilization? Explore these and other thought-provoking lectures with a thorough investigation of more than 30 key works of the Western canon and the critical roles they played-and continue to play-in the development of Western literature.

    There are no listener reviews for this title yet.

  • Life Lessons from the Great Books

    • ORIGINAL (18 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor J. Rufus Fears
    Overall
    (14)
    Performance
    (12)
    Story
    (12)

    Study more than three dozen works that span the timelines of Western history, from ancient Greece and Rome to the modern age. Whether written 2,000, 200, or 20 years ago, the enduring works of literature still speak to us and place our unique experiences into a larger perspective, offering invaluable lessons for every important moment in life. Every Great Book you explore over these 36 insightful lectures-from the Odyssey and the Gospel of John to Hamlet and Animal Farm.

    Benoibe says: "A preacher? Religiosity...."
    A preacher? Religiosity....

    This seemed like a great course. However I couldn't listen beyond Part One.

    The professor comes across as a TV evangelical. I have no issue ..Show More »

    Reviewed on September 21 2013 by Benoibe (New Orleans, LA, United States)
  • Myth in Human History

    • ORIGINAL (18 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Grant L. Voth
    Overall
    (46)
    Performance
    (41)
    Story
    (41)

    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"
    Five stars, with some caveats

    This course is an excellent introduction and overview of world mythology. It covers a lot of ground, and does it well. While I would recommend it to a..Show More »

    Reviewed on January 29 2014 by Walter (Shoreview, MN, United States)
  • Herodotus: The Father of History

    • ORIGINAL (12 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Elizabeth Vandiver
    Overall
    (8)
    Performance
    (6)
    Story
    (7)

    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"
    Really Loved It

    I thought this was completely informative and enjoyable. It does what courses like this do best by taking a topic you know a little bit about and just..Show More »

    Reviewed on September 15 2013 by Betsy (Everett, MA, United States)
  • Masterpieces of Ancient Greek Literature

    • ORIGINAL (18 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor David J. Schenker
    Overall
    (6)
    Performance
    (5)
    Story
    (5)

    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.

    There are no listener reviews for this title yet.

  • Classics of Russian Literature

    • ORIGINAL (17 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Irwin Weil
    Overall
    (21)
    Performance
    (21)
    Story
    (21)

    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!"
    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! Pr..Show More »

    Reviewed on August 12 2013 by Cookie (Anacortes, WA, United States)
  • Medieval Heroines in History and Legend

    • ORIGINAL (12 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Bonnie Wheeler
    Overall
    (10)
    Performance
    (9)
    Story
    (8)

    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.

    There are no listener reviews for this title yet.

  • Books That Have Made History: Books That Can Change Your Life

    • ORIGINAL (18 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Rufus J. Fears
    Overall
    (79)
    Performance
    (70)
    Story
    (69)

    Why do "Great Books" continue to speak to us hundreds and even thousands of years after they were written? Can they deepen our self-knowledge and wisdom? Are our lives changed in any meaningful way by the experience of reading them?Tackle these questions and more in these 36 engaging lectures. Beginning with his definition of a Great Book as one that possesses a great theme of enduring importance, noble language that "elevates the soul and ennobles the mind," and a universality that enables it to "speak across the ages," Professor Fears examines a body of work that offers extraordinary wisdom to those willing to receive it.

    Kristi says: "A course that will open you to new ideas."
    A course that will open you to new ideas.

    This course is about exploring the greatest books ever written that changed the world.
    It also explains why they are great and how they affected ..Show More »

    Reviewed on July 06 2014 by Kristi (Milwaukie, OR, United States)