Books That Have Made History: Books That Can Change Your Life : The Great Courses: Western Literature

  • by The Great Courses
  • Narrated by Professor Rufus J. Fears
  • Series: The Great Courses: Western Literature
  • 18 hrs and 30 mins
  • Lecture

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."


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

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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- Kristi Richardson "An old broad that enjoys books of all types. Would rather read than write reviews though. I know what I like, and won't be bothered by crap."

Just about ok

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

Yes it was since I got a wikipedia style introduction to some great books.

Who was your favorite character and why?

That question is not applicable amazon! Why don't you just let us write free style reviews?

What three words best describe Professor Rufus J. Fears’s voice?

Southern drawl. I was amusingly distracted by his pronunciation of "dooty".

Was Books That Have Made History: Books That Can Change Your Life worth the listening time?


Any additional comments?

I liked the treatment of the non-fiction books better than that of the fiction. For example, discussion of Othello, 1984, All is quiet on the Western front etc was nothing more than a dramatic rendering of the summary. What I expected to hear more was a discussion of the underlying themes. For the non fiction works such as the works of Winston Churchill or Gandhi, the treatment was much better. All in all, it was an average course. I do not regret listening to it, but I was not enthralled by it either.

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- Amazon Customer

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-08-2013
  • Publisher: The Great Courses