Life Lessons from the Great Books : The Great Courses: Western Literature

  • by The Great Courses
  • Narrated by Professor J. Rufus Fears
  • Series: The Great Courses: Western Literature
  • 18 hrs and 15 mins
  • Lecture

Publisher's Summary

Study more than three dozen works that span the timelines of Western history, from ancient Greece and Rome to the modern age. Whether written 2,000, 200, or 20 years ago, the enduring works of literature still speak to us and place our unique experiences into a larger perspective, offering invaluable lessons for every important moment in life.
Every Great Book you explore over these 36 insightful lectures-from the Odyssey and the Gospel of John to Hamlet and Animal Farm - is a unique expression of the human spirit and a fountain of advice, from how to conduct yourself in times of trouble to how to better appreciate the simple moments in your life.
You'll discover six broad themes that run through history's most compelling stories: the unconquerable human spirit, youth and old age, romance and love, adventure and courage, laughter and irony, and patriotism. In exploring these themes within the context of these Great Books, you learn new ideas about both the works themselves and the broad scope of the human condition.
If you haven't read these Great Books before, the warmth of Professor Fears's storytelling and his insightful approach to literature will have you heading to the library to learn more. And if you've already read these works, you'll discover new themes and ideas that will help you get more out of them.
Regardless of your previous familiarity with these works, you'll come to understand why these masterpieces remain eternal testaments to the variety of human experience and the powerful ways in which literature can guide and inspire us.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Interesting but a bit scattered by Prof. Fears

If you could sum up Life Lessons from the Great Books in three words, what would they be?

Insightful. Entertaining. Scattered.


What was one of the most memorable moments of Life Lessons from the Great Books?

Recounting the story of the Odyssey, he reads his interpretation of the lesson from the book and you get a real feeling that this one struck him just a bit deeper then some of the rest.


Have you listened to any of Professor J. Rufus Fears’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Prof. Fears has done tons of wonderful content for TTC and this one is not an exception.


Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

His descriptions of the lives of Washington and Lincoln in discussing their farewell and inauguration speeches rekindled a desire to research both.


Any additional comments?

Two minor quibbles: Prof. Fears structures the course as a series of themes, so the books feel a bit disjointed - he'll be talking about Greeks, then suddenly he'll be in early America. It also felt a bit "Western Civ" oriented (So the Tale of the Genji had nothing to teach us?)

But those two criticisms aside, I can happily recommend this series to anyone who likes to hear a very intelligent, thoughful person talking about something they're passionate about.

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- R. Hansen

Excellent series on lessons from the great books

This was a very well performed series of lectures on the great books. The professor would summarize a book in each lecture and then draw some generalities that we can apply to our own lives. Sometimes these lessons seemed a little too general or strained, but overall it was a good exposure to a number of books I wasn't familiar with, and a good refresher on other books I haven't read in years.

The best thing I can say is that it has inspired me to want to read several of the books covered in the series.
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- Bonnie

Book Details

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