The History of World Literature : The Great Courses: World Literature

  • by The Great Courses
  • Narrated by Professor Grant L. Voth
  • Series: The Great Courses: World Literature
  • 24 hrs and 37 mins
  • Lecture

Publisher's Summary

Whether around the campfire, between the covers of a great book, or in the theater, the desire to tell stories has been a common human impulse for thousands of years. These 48 lectures take you on a journey through time and around the world- from the enormous auditoriums of ancient Greece to a quiet study in the home of a 19th-century New England spinster- to introduce the history of world literature.
In this course, you'll sample some of the greatest literary expressions the world has known and experience storytelling in its many forms, including poetry, drama, and narrative. You'll explore: the ancient world, where tribal bards created national myths and founded religious texts out of legends, history, philosophy, and local lore; the countryside and aristocratic courts of India and the Middle East, collecting stories and folklore of magical men, terrifying beasts, alluring women, and conniving tricksters that live on in today's fairy tales and bedtime stories; the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the Enlightenment to trace the evolution of storytelling from the poetic masterpiece of Dante's Inferno to the great drama pioneered by Shakespeare to sophisticated narratives such as Wu Ch'eng-en's Monkey and Voltaire's Candide; and the rise of Realism in the works of Flaubert, Dostoevsky, and Chekhov and the development of experimental modes by Brecht, Beckett, and Borges.
Offering concise summaries and thought-provoking interpretations of some of the world's greatest literary masterpieces, this course gives you the tools you need to appreciate these great literary works and understand how authors, playwrights, and poets throughout the centuries have practiced their craft.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Excellent introduction to world literature

Would you listen to The History of World Literature again? Why?

Yes, it's the kind of presentation that covers so much in a given time that going back and hearing it again always increases what the "reader" takes in.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The History of World Literature?

There were several. One was how accessible he made Japanese poetry. Another was his marvelous demonstration of "how to cover Shakespeare in 30 minutes." (Hint: he recognizes up front that it CAN'T be done; but he makes an enjoyable and creative presentation anyhow.) I was also very impressed with how approachable for non-scholars he made some very complex pieces like Gilgamesh and some of the Asian literature.

Have you listened to any of Professor Grant L. Voth’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Yes, and he is always superb, but this is his best.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Not possible because it is very long, and more so because each lecture invites you to run it back in your mind before continuing on to the next.

Any additional comments?

I recommend this course to everybody I talk to about audiobooks.

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- Richard


Great teacher, learned a lot, very engaging. I recommend to anyone interested in novels, short stories, poetry or drama. Great.
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- kathy

Book Details

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