Classics of British Literature : The Great Courses: English Literature

  • by The Great Courses
  • Narrated by Professor John Sutherland
  • Series: The Great Courses: English Literature
  • 24 hrs and 16 mins
  • Lecture

Publisher's Summary

For more than 1,500 years, the literature of Great Britain has taught, nurtured, thrilled, outraged, and humbled readers both inside and outside its borders.
Chaucer, Shakespeare, Dickens, Austen, Swift, Conrad, Wilde - the roster of powerful British writers is remarkable. More important, Britain's writers have long challenged readers with new ways of understanding an ever-changing world.
This series of 48 fascinating lectures by an award-winning professor provides you with a rare opportunity to step beyond the surface of Britain's grand literary masterpieces and experience the times and conditions they came from and the diverse issues with which their writers grappled.
The unique insights Professor Sutherland shares about how and why these works succeed as both literature and documents of Britain's social and political history can forever alter the way you experience a novel, poem, or play.
More than just a survey, these lectures reveal how Britain's cultural landscape acted upon its literature and how, in turn, literature affected the cultural landscape. Professor Sutherland takes a historical approach to the wealth of works explored in these lectures, grounding them in specific contexts and often connecting them with one another.
All the great writers that come to mind when you think of British literature are here, along with unique looks at their most popular and powerful works. You also enjoy the company of less-familiar voices and contemporary authors who continue to take literature into new territories.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

The Best of British

This audiobook was an enjoyable summary of British Literature from its inception with Beowulf in the dark ages up to the 21st century. As a general rule it was very entertaining, giving the background stories of the authors and describing how their lives and historical circumstances produced their writing. It was fascinating to hear the about the lives of Austen, the Brontes, Dickens and Hardy.

I found myself zoning out a few times when poetry was the topic. I don’t think this is the fault of the lecturer, poetry just doesn’t really do it for me, although I found the lives of Keats and Byron to be interesting and First World War poetry has always seemed more poignant to me than poetry about love or beauty. As for Milton and Paradise Lost, I still don’t get it even now, even after it has been explained to me.

My overall verdict is that this is an interesting audiobook and, at 25 hours duration, well worth the price of the credit.
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- Mark

Listing Contents of this Interesting Course

Any additional comments?

Prof. Sutherland has not included Tolkien or Lewis in his lectures - perhaps because TGC's want us to purchase the stand alone courses on these great writers, or maybe Tolkien & Leiws didn't met the criteria TGC's lecturer had set for what he perceived 'Classic' meant :-/ (?)

48 lectures in this course:
1. Anglo-Saxon Roots—Pessimism and Comradeship
2. Chaucer—Social Diversity
3. Chaucer—A Man of Unusual Cultivation
4. Spenser—The Faerie Queene
5. Early Drama—Low Comedy and Religion
6. Marlowe—Controversy and Danger
7. Shakespeare the Man—The Road to the Globe
8. Shakespeare—The Mature Years
9. Shakespeare's Rivals—Jonson and Webster
10. The King James Bible—English Most Elegant
11. The Metaphysicals—Conceptual Daring
12. Paradise Lost—A New Language for Poetry
13. Turmoil Makes for Good Literature
14. The Augustans—Order, Decorum, and Wit
15. Swift—Anger and Satire
16. Johnson—Bringing Order to the Language
17. Defoe—Crusoe and the Rise of Capitalism
18. Behn—Emancipation in the Restoration
19. The Golden Age of Fiction
20. Gibbon—Window into 18th-Century England
21. Equiano—The Inhumanity of Slavery
22. Women Poets—The Minor Voice
23. Wollstonecraft—"First of a New Genus"
24. Blake—Mythic Universes and Poetry
25. Scott and Burns—The Voices of Scotland
26. Lyrical Ballads—Collaborative Creation
27. Mad, Bad Byron
28. Keats—Literary Gold
29. Frankenstein—A Gothic Masterpiece
30. Miss Austen and Mrs. Radcliffe
31. Pride and Prejudice—Moral Fiction
32. Dickens—Writer with a Mission
33. The 1840s—Growth of the Realistic Novel
34. Wuthering Heights—Emily's Masterwork
35. Jane Eyre and the Other Brontë
36. Voices of Victorian Poetry
37. Eliot—Fiction and Moral Reflection
38. Hardy—Life at Its Worst
39. The British Bestseller—An Overview
40. Heart of Darkness—Heart of the Empire?
41. Wilde—Celebrity Author
42. Shaw and Pygmalion
43. Joyce and Yeats—Giants of Irish Literature
44. Great War, Great Poetry
45. Bloomsbury and the Bloomsberries
46. 20th-Century English Poetry—Two Traditions
47. British Fiction from James to Rushdie
48. New Theatre, New Literary Worlds

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- Chelle

Book Details

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