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Publisher's Summary

From the anonymous author of the Epic of Gilgamesh in ancient Mesopotamia to William Faulkner writing about Mississippi 3,600 years later, many of Western culture's greatest figures have been writers. Their landmark themes, unique insights into human nature, dynamic characters, experimental storytelling techniques, and rich philosophical ideas helped create the vibrant storytelling methods we find reflected in today's authors.
These 84 brilliant lectures survey more than 70 literary geniuses and masterpieces of Western literature, offering you the chance to experience a veritable encyclopedia of great writers who have played critical roles in Western history, influencing everything from religion to politics - to say nothing of the myriad literary genres and movements, which illustrate how writers reacted to their cultural environments and demonstrate the crucial relationship between a writer and his or her time.
From Homer and Virgil to Cervantes and Milton to Dickens and Joyce, the featured texts and authors are so richly varied and cover so many different centuries, societies, literary movements, and genres, yet you'll discover a panorama of literary relationships between periods, authors, and the paths that brought us to where we are in literature today.
Amid all the discussions from five highly esteemed professors, you'll return again and again to the idea of literature as a powerful force in our lives. You'll come away with a well-rounded and well-informed understanding of both these literary icons and the larger role that literature has played in our cultural history.
The complete list of lecturers includes professors Elizabeth Vandiver, James A.W. Heffernan, Ronald B. Herzman, Susan Sage Heinzelman, and Thomas F.X. Noble.

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

©2004 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2004 The Great Courses
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Bryan on 09-11-13

Great Authors Without the Term Papers

This really is like sitting in on great professors' lectures, but without having all the term papers and finals that go with the classes. I was skeptical, at first, but these really do come across as well thought out lectures by knowledgeable professors. They also bring their unique methods and personalities to each part. I have sat in on enough lectures to be impressed by these. They do require your attention to get the most out of them. One side benefit is the introduction of authors that you may have heard of, but had never gotten around to. These have also encouraged me to look many of these authors' works up and at least skim them.

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14 of 14 people found this review helpful

3 out of 5 stars
By Mary Elizabeth Reynolds on 03-16-14

Epic Audio

There were more lectures in this long set of lectures (48) on the classic age than any other, twenty something rather than the ten for the other periods. I wasn't convinced that was necessary, obscure Greek and Roman poets get their own lecture while medieval and Renaissance literature are just scanned. There is exposure to French and Spanish authors that we rarely get in English Lit. Doing these works chronologically, you can see how one period builds on another, except for the classics. I can see the attention paid to the greats but I simply didn't enjoy the first part as much as the last.

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19 of 20 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Meg Pajak on 05-21-16

excellent lectures

these lectures cover major authors from antiquity up to 20th century and help to appreciate the most prolific works of western literature. they are interesting and inspiring and, unlike some of the Great Courses delivered in a very engaging way.

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5 of 5 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Ruben Brooke on 04-03-18

A good, though inconsistent, general overview,

The best lectures were those that covered the ancient world and the Renaissance. The last lecturer, who covers the modern period, did a much worse job (stylistically and substantively).

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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