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Publisher's Summary

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.
You'll study dozens of works, from the Aeneid and the book of Job to Othello and 1984 - works that range in time from the 3rd millennium B.C. to the 20th century, and in locale from Mesopotamia and China to Europe and America. Professor Fears approaches each of these works from an entirely different direction, considering philosophical and moral perspectives that superbly complement a purely literary understanding.Grasping these philosophical and moral perspectives is crucial to the education of every thoughtful person. These works that have shaped the minds of great individuals, who, in turn, have shaped events of historic magnitude. You'll study the underlying ideas of each great work to see how these ideas can be put to use in a moral and ethical life."History is our sense of the past," Professor Fears says. "And these Great Books are our links to the great ideas of the past. They educate us to live our lives in a free and responsible way."

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

©2005 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2005 The Great Courses
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Kristi Richardson on 07-06-14

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 those around them. Professor Fears is a great lecturer and always keeps things interesting. Each lecture is around a half hour each so great to listen to on your commute or when you have a short time to devote to the lecture.

The books per Prof. Fears are:
1. Letters and Papers from Prison by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
2. Homer 's Illyiad
3. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
4. Bhagavad Gita
5. Exodus by Moses
6. The book of Mark in the New Testament
7. Koran
8. Gilgamesh
9. Beowolf
10. Job
11. Oresteia by Aeschylus
12. The Bacchae by Euripides
13. Phaedo by Plato
14. The Divine Comedy by Dante
15. Othello by W Shakespeare
16. Prometheus Bound
17. Gulag Archipelago by Solzhenitsyn
18. Julius Caesar by W Shakespeare
19. 1984 by George Orwell
20. The Aeneid by Virgil
21. Gettysburg Address by A Lincoln
22. Pericles Funeral Speech
23. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
24. Confucius
25. The Prince by Machiavelli
26. Plato's Republic
27. On Liberty by John Stuart Mill
28. Le Morte d'Arthur by Thomas Mallory
29. Faust Parts One and Two by Goethe
30. Walden by Henry David Thoreau
31. Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire by Gibbons
32. Lord Acton's History of Liberty
33. On Duties by Cicero
34. Autobiography of Mohandas Gandhi
35. My Early Life, The Second World War series and Painting as a Pastime by Winston Churchill
The last lecture goes over the books quickly and talks about the lessons taught and that the best way to pursue knowledge is to open your minds and meditate on each book in order to let what the author is trying to tell you sink in.
I highly recommend this class. It opened up a whole new world to explore for me.

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172 of 175 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By George R. Murray on 10-17-13

Fascinating, Entertaining, Impactful: Best Course

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

Having listened to 15 Great Courses over the last couple months, I took this course with a little trepidation, largely based on the mediocre Teach Company reviews. Yet something strange happened right from the first lecture: each book was fascinating, his lecture style became more contagious, and most importantly, I began to see the crucial importance of his underlying messages. The first statement of the course title is pretty clear cut and these books have accomplished the claim of making history because they're still around (much to the dismay of many students) hundreds...thousands of years after being written. I can make no universal claims for the second part of the title but I can speak for myself--this part was true as well. Similar to the way I felt after reading the last (to date) of George RR Martin's Song of Fire and Ice series, I grieved to be done with this course. What could top this, I wondered? Thankfully, J Rufus has several titles to choose from, so all is not lost. I loved this course and am wiser for it.

Who was your favorite character and why?

I thought J Rufus was at his best--and most endearing--when summarizing a story by providing the voices of its pivotal characters. His drawl and enthusiasm was comical, fun and surprisingly effective in demystifying and contemporizing often ancient the Gilgamesh lecture was particularly enjoyable.

What does Professor Rufus J. Fears bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

J Rufus takes 30+ books and weaves the strands of their shared virtues, overarching themes, and contemporary relevance into critically important message for today's society. That would be a tough feat to duplicate by reading any one, two or dozen of these books on my own. By experiencing J Rufus's course as a whole, I came to understand that so much of what is portrayed in this course seems to be missing--though is seemingly not missed--from our 21st century.

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

Antiquity's Plea

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22 of 25 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Mr Henry on 04-11-17

'Don't give up' - a powerful message down the ages

Lots to mull over here. Cicero, Ghandi, Churchill, Homer, Dante, Lord Acton ... the message from a rich cast of literary stars seems to be - know yourself and don't give up. Either on yourself or your dreams.
Powerfully and thoughtfully delivered.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Benjamin Beech on 06-22-17

Enlightening, engaging, endearing, entertaining...

Dr. Fears shares a lifetime of study and consideration over how great books have spoken about timeless themes for humanity.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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