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Publisher's Summary

Join three literary scholars and award-winning professors as they introduce you to dozens of short masterpieces that you can finish - and engage with - in a day or less. Perfect for people with busy lives who still want to discover -or rediscover - just how transformative reading can be, these 36 lectures range from short stories of fewer than 10 pages to novellas and novels of around 200 pages. Despite their short length, these works are powerful examinations of the same subjects and themes that longer "great books" discuss.

And with three great professors coming together to offer their own looks at literature, you'll get a multitude of ways to approach and think about grand human themes, including

  • the nature of love and the mysteries of fate;
  • the riddle of identity and the trials of growing up;
  • the complex ties between individuals and their societies;
  • the ways we make sense of personal and public history.

In the company of these three professors, you'll also approach the evolution of the modern novel, the development of literary genres such as graphic novels and creative nonfiction, the role of politics and culture in inspiring authors, and much more.

What's more, by exploring literature through three perspectives instead of one, you'll get an opportunity to see how literature professors - just like everyone else - approach and read books in their own unique way. It's like getting three distinct learning experiences, all in one single, affordable package.

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

©2012 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2012 The Great Courses

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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Wonderful Introduction to Short Fiction

Short fiction is not something I've ever given a lot of thought to.  I read a good bit more of it last year than I have in a good long time, and have come to appreciate the short story and novella forms. It was with that in mind that I tackled A Day's Read, from The Great Courses, wanting to know more about both the forms and works that are good, even great representatives of them.  In a series of 36 lectures, Professors Weinstein, Allen, and Voth explore 36+ works of literature which can all be read in the course of a day, some in only a few hours.

It's a wide-ranging collection of stories that spans several centuries and a number of different countries.  Well-known authors such as Kafka, Hemingway, Balzac, and Joyce are represented along with authors who are lesser known but no less deft in creating small gems.  In the course of the 18+ hours, I compiled a huge list of things that I very much want to read, and authors I want to get to know, such as Borges, Calvino, Lagerkvist, Satrapi, Hersey... most of the authors represented here, in fact.

The lecturers break the works down by theme, which is an excellent way of approaching such a broad selection, but in the end, it's the stories themselves, the allure of the whole, that tempts me. But you can't organize everyone's subjective responses to this information, and so theme -- Who are we?  How do we love? -- is a good starting point.

I'm a great believer in understanding what we read.  I don't just mean comprehending the words on the page, but understanding their context in the world, and in our own lives. Approaching literature in easy bites, learning what ideas and concerns drove the writers represented here, makes it easier to approach their longer works with a greater level of comprehension. This course can go a long way to easing the reader into a greater understanding of not only the works presented but literature in general.

20 of 21 people found this review helpful

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Stories not included, only discussed

The analysis is certainly very interesting and good but the short stories themselves are not actually read during the lectures. To properly enjoy this you need to start a lecture until you hear what work they are discussing, then stop listening before they spoil the whole story. Then, go look up that work and read/listen to it before returning to the lecture. Very tedious. This would be a much better course if it were interleaved with readings of the actual stories.

177 of 227 people found this review helpful

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Keep a Pen Close By to Make Up Your Reading List

This is a fascinating survey, shared among professors, of works to read in a long or short afternoon. I especially love Arnold Weinstein whose Great Courses surveys--and a book--i have enjoyed before. Though I have a graduate degree in literature, I was delighted by the breadth and diversity of work covered. Listen to this and make up a beach reading list or one for evenings in front of the fire!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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A great team of lecturers

I've known for a while that Arnold Weinstein is fantastic lecturer. But I am glad to have been introduced to the other two professors through this team-taught course. I can't wait to look for other courses by Allen and Voth.

10 of 13 people found this review helpful

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"White Sagasso Sea" outshines all!

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

It's a perfect opportunity to widen your literary horizon. If you dare tread on unfamiliar area and are not afraid of fresh thought, this lecture is the one for you.

What did you like best about this story?

The introduction of "White Sagasso Sea" is the crown jewel.

Which character – as performed by the narrators – was your favorite?

Antoinette Cosway, aka Bertha Mason in "Jane Eyre" is my favorite.

Any additional comments?

It takes about half an hour to listen to one chapter, another day or two to read the themed novel. But it would take at least one week to fully absorb the emotion yelled to you by the character through plain yet magic words. Thank you, professor Emily Allen.

12 of 17 people found this review helpful

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Awesome lectures!

Any additional comments?

This is one of my favorite literature sets from Great Courses. I loves the mix of speakers, opinions, selections . . . really wonderful teachers, all of them!

15 of 22 people found this review helpful

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Tone

Good stuff to go to sleep to . Maybe the lecturers could try to make it a tadbit more exiting or at the very least , interesting.
Do not and cannot remember anything from this course and I just finished it.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Subject

This is not what I expected and I can not bring myself to finish listening.

6 of 33 people found this review helpful

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waste of time

I'd almost think the experts searched for society destroying stories to push

I quit listening and returned this junk

0 of 4 people found this review helpful