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Publisher's Summary

The major texts of Western culture are a gateway to wisdom that can widen your views on self and society in enduring ways. The extraordinary body of literature given us by writers from antiquity to the present day, as Professor Weinstein notes, "is potent stuff, serving not only as transcription of history but also as a verbal Pandora's box, capable of shedding light on those transactions which remain in the dark for many of us: love, death, fear, desire. We are talking about more than artful language; we are talking about the life of the past and the life of the world."
It is truly a monumental legacy. And now you can examine its most important works - whether drama, poetry, or narrative - in this series of 64 penetrating lectures that reveal astonishing common ground. You'll see how this award-winning teacher uses several different analytical perspectives, including Feminism, Marxism, Freudianism, Deconstruction, Postmodernism, and New Historicism, to give us fresh insight into persisting human themes like rites of passage; the "fit" or "misfit" between self and society; the creation of an identity; and the play, weight, and presence of the past in understanding our present.
You learn how drama makes visible the conflicts and wars of culture in ways other forms cannot manage. How poetry can go to the heart of human existence with a purity and power akin to surgery, bidding us to challenge and change the way we usually do business. And how narrative can tell life stories in ways that enable a possession of that life that is hardly imaginable any other way.
©1995 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)1995 The Great Courses
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By AnneNorton on 08-05-14

Great Course, Great Professor, Great Book!

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I have already recommended to several friends and my family; Prof. Weinstein is a thoughtful, intelligent and humorous teacher.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Understanding Literature and Life: Drama, Poetry and Narrative?

Prof. Weinstein's reading I Am Ceded by Dickinson.

Which character – as performed by Professor Arnold Weinstein – was your favorite?

Walt Whitman

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I laughed, I cried, and I will listen to it again.

Any additional comments?

I am an old English major, retired librarian, and this was the best course I have ever taken. Thank you for offering it and thank you Professor Weinstein.

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21 of 21 people found this review helpful


By Patricia on 03-20-15

What a PrivilegeTyp

I wasn't the best student, so the hallowed halls of the Ivy League wouldn't be open to someone like me. That makes this series of lectures so profound. It's as if I met a whole new world of depth and thought. All I really want to say is thank you.

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12 of 12 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Farniboy on 04-21-15

Interesting, Informative English Literature course

A great, if sometimes heavy listen. The issue for me was that I'm not particularly well read (one of the reasons I listen to The Great Courses!) so I hadn't heard of some of the poets and playwright's discussed here. T Weinstein's strength his he gets across the information in an easy listening way. Like all the Great Courses that I've listened to, well worth a listen!

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7 of 7 people found this review helpful


By Jess Hoare on 12-01-14

A great intoduction

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

This is a great and wide sweeping introduction. Professor Arnold Weinstein is engaging and interesting.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Understanding Literature and Life: Drama, Poetry and Narrative?

This book has expanded my understanding greatly.

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6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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