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Publisher's Summary

Russian literature famously probes the depths of the human soul, and in this series of 36 insightful lectures prepared by a frequently honored teacher legendary among educators in both the United States and Russia - you probe just as deeply into the extraordinary legacy that is Russian Literature itself.
Professor Weil introduces you to masterpieces such as Tolstoy's War and Peace, Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment, Pushkin's Eugene Onegin, Gogol's Dead Souls, Chekhov's The Seagull, Pasternak's Doctor Zhivago, and many other great novels, stories, plays, and poems.
In all, you plunge into more than 40 works by a dozen writers, from Aleksandr Pushkin in the 19th century to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in the 20th century. You also investigate the origin of Russian literature itself, which traces its lineage back to powerful epic poetry and beautiful renderings of the Bible into Slavic during the Middle Ages.
All of these works are treated in translation, but Professor Weil does something very unusual in the literature-in-translation arena. For almost every passage that he quotes in English, he reads an extract in the original Russian, with a fluent accent and an actor's sense of drama.

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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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Rich on 07-15-16

Jump in The Troika for A Ride with Dr. Weil!

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.

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10 of 10 people found this review helpful

3 out of 5 stars
By paul on 09-07-16

Very Little Analysis - mostly retells the stories

Any additional comments?

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.

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17 of 18 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Alexander Sutherland on 08-26-14


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!!

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Tom Anderson on 11-05-17

Classics of Russian Literature

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.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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