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  • reviews
  • 39
  • helpful votes
  • 13
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  • How to Read and Understand Shakespeare

  • By: Marc C. Conner, The Great Courses
  • Narrated by: Marc C. Conner
  • Length: 12 hrs and 6 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 393
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 350
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 345

Shakespeare's works are among the greatest of humanity's cultural expressions and, as such, demand to be experienced and understood. But, simply put, Shakespeare is difficult. His language and culture - those of Elizabethan England - are greatly different from our own, and his poetry, thick with metaphorical imagery and double meanings, can be hard to penetrate.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • To Listen or Not to Listen…

  • By Ark1836 on 10-13-15

Unassuming, Brief, and Clear

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-07-17

If you could sum up How to Read and Understand Shakespeare in three words, what would they be?

Shakespeare has some fundamental tensions he works through in each play. If you know what those are ahead of time, you'll be able to navigate any of his plays.

What does Professor Marc C. Conner bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

The problem with Shakespeare today is that each play is inaccessible to the non-scholar. Conner makes them accessible. He clarifies why Shakespeare is considered the greatest playwright of the English language.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Of course: MacBeth's "Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow. Creeps in this petty pace from day to day, To the last syllable of recorded time. And all our yesterdays have lighted fools, The way to dusty death." Striking that MacBeth wasn't just over ambitious/impatient, he sacrificed kindness & optimism to his ambition. Which begs the question: Ambitious for what? And once you are king, you rule of kingdom of unkindness and assasination?

Any additional comments?

Can't recommend these lectures enough. Kind of like the characters of Shylok and Hamlet, this series leaps up from the other Great Courses and stands alone as one of the best, easiest, and most useful Great Courses ever.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Understanding Literature and Life: Drama, Poetry and Narrative

  • By: Arnold Weinstein, The Great Courses
  • Narrated by: Arnold Weinstein
  • Length: 32 hrs and 48 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 176
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 155
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 154

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.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Great Course, Great Professor, Great Book!

  • By AnneN on 08-05-14

Shockingly Good

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-10-17

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

30-years ago, I read a few of these books in college. After hearing the lectures on those books, it's as if I was hearing about them for the first time. I was stunned stupid, and eager for more insight.
--> Oedipus: Aristotle's "tragic flaw" is an adolescent understanding...go deeper to see everyman's struggle against fate and self-knowledge. Maybe the worst unmasking is the mask that we didn't know we are wearing. We think the answer to the riddle of the sphynx is that man crawls in infancy, walks in mid-life, and walks with a cane before death. But the reality is more grueling: at the end of life, we are blinded by the self-knowledge that pains us so -- it's not a cane, but someone we're leaning on to lead us in our blindness.
--> Othello: Men fear women's sexuality & harbor a double-standard in that they feel they own their woman's body but do not feel their own body is owned by their partner.
--> Tartuffe: Really? What kind of deep insight can he possible give here? More than I was ready for. Where am I so blindly loyal to someone that it would take him disrobing my wife on the kitchen table for me to overcome my blindness? Isn't that exactly what's happening in U.S. politics in 2017? He translates this "comedy" from the trite to the profound.

And that was just the first series of lectures. He gives three lectures per work. And I've got to tell you, I was really uncomfortable by lecture three on each of the three topics above. He was under my skin. He had questioning some of my own essential understandings about life. I think that's the point, and he makes that point very well.

Have you listened to any of Professor Arnold Weinstein’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

My first one, and I'm going to buy others. Anyone this insightful is a pleasure to learn from.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • The Yoga Matrix

  • The Body as a Gateway to Freedom
  • By: Richard Freeman
  • Narrated by: Richard Freeman
  • Length: 7 hrs and 56 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 104
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 93
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 88

In The Yoga Matrix, the renowned instructor Richard Freeman immerses us in the rich teachings and sutras that inform the many schools of yoga and reveals how the body can serve as the ultimate laboratory, temple, and place of pilgrimage for spiritual inquiry.

  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • this was impossible to understand or sit through.

  • By tim on 01-08-18

Mind-blowing

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-12-16

Very balanced, grounded, and well-researched. Really enjoyed it. Covers all the bases that yoga instructors need.

9 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali

  • A Biography
  • By: David Gordon White
  • Narrated by: Peter Ganim
  • Length: 7 hrs and 14 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 80
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 70
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 69

Consisting of fewer than 200 verses written in an obscure if not impenetrable language and style, Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra is today extolled by the yoga establishment as a perennial classic and guide to yoga practice. As David Gordon White demonstrates in this groundbreaking study, both of these assumptions are incorrect. Virtually forgotten in India for hundreds of years and maligned when it was first discovered in the West, the Yoga Sutra has been elevated to its present iconic status.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Extremely in-depth analysis

  • By Aaron Edvalson on 06-03-17

Very Thankful for this Work!

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-11-16

Would you listen to The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali again? Why?

Yes, I plan to listen to it several times. Many yogis use dates and facts that are not supported by the facts. Doesn't mean they are wrong, they just can't be supported. i.e. "Yoga as described in the Sutras goes back 5,000 years." Maybe, but probably not. I'm interested in what is really "known" about the sutras. Let's start with the truth, then build from there. If a yogi is afraid of the truth, I'm not sure that's a good foundation for their practice.

What did you like best about this story?

Historical context & accuracy.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Yoga Sutras Exposed: What We Really Know.

Any additional comments?

It's hard to find a fair, purely academic treatment of Yoga. I'm sorry to see the yoga practitioners who rate this work poorly. One person gave this 1 star because they meant to purchase a traditional commentary, so instead of taking responsibility for their mistake, they took it out on the work. Not a shining example of yogic Ahimsa. The next reviewer found it a hubristic, cynical, sarcastic, and racist diatribe that is "veiled" as academic. So much so that they didn't complete it. Hmmm. No examples provide to support their position, no attempt to illustrate how the work is academically incorrect. If there was ever a need to practice Satya (2nd limb, 2nd observance: truth in thought, word, and deed), this is it. If you feel the work is bad, then state it as a feeling, not as a fact. If you're going to state is a fact, then back it up with examples, so the reader can decide for themselves. While I'm neither a practioner nor an academic, I do find it sad how yogic practitioners can behave so badly when confronted with an academic treatment of the texts they hold dear. It's not a question of intelligence: many of them sound highly intelligent, as the reader above who found the work hubristic. But, instead of attacking back because we feel our beliefs were attacked, we need to meet the academics on their battlefield and engage. Not launch potshots from a safe distance.

19 of 25 people found this review helpful

  • The Essence of the Bhagavad-Gita

  • Every Person's Guide to the All-Time Spiritual Classic
  • By: Steven Hartman
  • Narrated by: Steven Hartman
  • Length: 5 hrs and 42 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 52
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 46
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 46

Written in the ancient language of Sanskrit, the Bhagavad-Gita is a compelling epic poem that holds within it all of the answers to the questions that have baffled humankind since the beginning of time, and will continue to do so well into the future. Through powerful interpretation, storytelling, and the personal insights that he has experienced throughout his own life, Steven sheds great light on the many layers of teachings that are presented in this short yet sometimes perplexing text.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A Great Introduction to Gita

  • By Sri on 06-14-16

Good Stuff

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-06-16

Enjoyed all the Zen stories and stories from his personal life.

It's not a study guide. Instead, he expounds on the central themes through examples & stories from real life.