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Publisher's Summary

Who can imagine life without novels? They have served not merely as diversions but as companions for so much of our lives, offering hours of pleasure and, at their best, insights few of us can ever quantify. But the simple joy of reading novels sometimes obscures our awareness of the deeper roles they play in our lives: honing our intellect, quenching our emotional thirsts, and shaping our sense of ourselves and of the world we live in. And this may be especially obvious in the case of the English novel, as you'll see in this engaging series of 24 lectures from an award-winning teacher.

Under Professor Spurgin's guidance, you'll learn how the period that gave rise to the novel in England corresponded with a convulsive social transformation - one that produced the world's first modern, capitalist economy. Along the way, traditional social values often appeared to be outdated, as did traditional narrative forms.

You'll see how the great English novelists were eager to create something new and different, breaking from traditions in which stories were usually centered on aristocrats and nobles to focus instead on the thoughts and feelings of ordinary people and taking pains to capture the rhythms of everyday life. At the same time, they also reacted to a number of larger developments: industrialization and urbanization, democratization and globalization.

By placing more than two centuries of great English novelists in the context of British history and showing how their lives intersected with the creation of their art, these lectures offer a fascinating look at a form of enduring popularity and importance whose influence has been felt everywhere novels are read.

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

©2006 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2006 The Great Courses

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  • Emily
  • CARLSBAD, CA, United States
  • 07-11-16

Loved My First Course!

One of my greatest regrets in life is not taking better advantage of my years in college. Since then, I have tried to make up for lost time by reading many classics on my own and English authors happen to be my favorites. This course put all of those favorites into historical context. It gave me a greater appreciation and insight into the works I've been reading over the years. It also helped explain some of my least favorite books giving me a better appreciation of their context. Highly, highly recommend. I've already started my second course on Metaphysics!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
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Informative and enjoyable!

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

I haven't listened, but enjoyed his lecture so much....has a pleasant voice. Will definitely search out other lectures by him.

Any additional comments?

Wish I could actually be in the classroom to ask questions! Had questions about these authors' other works, other authors of the period, etc., but the lecture has spurred me to do my own research and followup on topics that interest me. Expanded my "to read" list by many works, ha!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Bruce
  • Laguna Hills, CA, United States
  • 01-21-16

Very Informative

I enjoy these courses, and this one was no exception. I have read many English novels, but this course pretty much put it all together and gave me perspective I didn't have. It was interesting to see the development of the novel over time. It also made me enthused to read some of the novels discussed in the courses that I have not yet read. I thought the lectures were well structured and well delivered.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Loved it!

My first course and loved it! The 30 min segments perfect and the material very interesting .

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Amazing!

I had so much fun listening to this and even got my family into it. Professor Spurgin was fantastic. I wish I had done more literature classes in college and this definitely satisfied my desire for learn more about English literature. I can't recommend this enough.