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Being a recent college grad, I think professors are getting used to the idea that their students aren't going to read the assigned literature. Instead of teaching the books at a deep level, connecting themes and ideas, the professor simply summarizes the stories. There is a bit of historical and cultural background, and that part is appreciated, but too little is provided.
10 of 10 people found this review helpful
When I first read--and was deeply moved by--Brothers K four months ago, I very much wanted to learn Russian and read the book in its native Cyrillic. Ohio native Irwin Weil actually followed through on that exact feeling on his first read of Brothers K, making a 40+ year career out of the effort (a career that spanned the Red Scare of the '50s thorugh current day). What Dr. Weil packs into this course is as about as dense as it gets for an audiobook.
I read five major Russian titles before coming across this course--an excellent prerequisite. Without those under my belt, this course would have felt like a fire hose of book summaries. But note: this course is as much about Russian history as it is about the literature. Where did the Cyrillic alphabet come from? What does 'tsar' actually mean? Who exactly are the Cossacks? What types of cultural dissonance did the Soviet Union create amongst its people? These questions and more are answered in this course, allowing the student to develop a greater appreciation for the written works.
Certainly this review wouldn't be complete without a nod to the passion of Dr. Weil. Northwestern University has an absolute treasure in this man; I couldn't imagine a better person to record this Great Course for the English-speaking audience to appreciate for years to come. The spoken Russian, the signing, the companion PDF--his knowledge on Russian culture is wonderfully unique and seemingly limitless.
This lecture has spoilers for most any book discussed--I intentionally skipped the lectures on Fathers and Sons, Anna K, and Dr Z because of my intent to read those titles in the near future. Once read, I'll come right back to this course to hear Dr. Weil's analysis and insight. Another knockout title by The Learning Company.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
If you could sum up Classics of Russian Literature in three words, what would they be?
Very impressed by this overview of Russian literature. Not only the content of these lectures, but I love Irwin Weil's enthusiasm which is immediately apparent and can't help but draw you in. Great stuff!!
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Having read a fair bit of Russian literature, these lectures have been incredibly insightful into the cultural background and lives of the authors who created such works.
Professor Weil is clearly very passionate about the topic, and presents the lectures in an entertaining and informative style. He also presents many readings in Russian (to display rhythm of, for example, Pushkin's poetry) before giving the English translation
Definitely recommended for fans of the great Russian writers.