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Publisher's Summary

Hemingway. Fitzgerald. Faulkner. These and other giants of literature are immediately recognizable to anyone who loves to read fiction and even to many who don't.
Now, thanks to these 32 lectures, you can develop fresh insight into some of the greatest American authors of the 20th century. Professor Weinstein sheds light not only on the sheer magnificence of these writers' literary achievements but also explores their uniquely American character as well. Despite their remarkable variety, each author represents an outlook and a body of work that could only have emerged in the United States. As such, the aim of these lectures is to analyze and appreciate some of the major works of American fiction, using as a focal point the idea of freedom of speech.
The works you'll investigate here include Winesburg, Ohio (among the most poignant descriptions of life at the beginning of the century); Light in August (which depicts the ravages of racism in the American South); Their Eyes Were Watching God (the first – and perhaps the best – account of growing up black and female in America); Slaughterhouse-Five (a poignant and wacky take of mass destruction and aliens); Sula (an experimental novel that makes rubble out of the conventions of black and white culture); and White Noise (which depicts our encounter with the technological madhouse in which we live).
These American fictions, seen together, tell a composite story about coping, about fashioning both a story and a life. Much is dark in these stories, but the honesty and integrity of these writers makes us realize that reading is as much a lifeline as it is entertainment or education.

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

©1996 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)1996 The Great Courses
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Carolyn on 08-26-13

No longer wasted on the young!

Where does 20th-Century American Fiction rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

I have listened to many wonderful audiobooks, and this is the best I have heard.

Any additional comments?

Thank you for adding the great courses to Audible. I can't imagine that any of the others will hold a candle to this one however. This series of lectures is insightful, profound, challenging and ultimately uplifting. The last one is more profound than any sermon I've ever heard. I previously read some of these books (like Light in August available as audiobook) and never understood them as I do now. Its understandable for the non english major but not dumbed down. There was so much in it, so much food for thought, I listened to several lectures multiple times.

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13 of 14 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By W Perry Hall on 02-02-14

America comes to Life in 20th Century Fiction

Do you love to read and now wish you would have taken the American Lit course in college or, worse, that you had actually paid attention when you took the course?

If so, or if you just love lit and don't care if you'd taken it in college or not, this is a perfect chance to listen to over 16 hours of a soft-spoken, lively and enthusiastic Ivy League (Brown) professor Arnold Weinstein covering American literature in the 20th century. From the charm of small-town American life (with the secrets) of Sherwood Anderson; to the loss of innocence and the love of booze portrayed by Fitzgerald and Hemingway; the racism in the American South explored by Faulkner; God, religion and the religious (particularly in the South) in the short stories of Flannery O'Connor; the explosion of drugs in William Burroughs' novels; the mass destruction of war and extra-terrestrials in Slaughterhouse Five by Vonnegut; the Nixon administration and execution mocked by Coover; the prevalence of technology in DeLillo's White Noise; as well as the exploration of feminism and race by the wonderful authors, Zora Neale Hurston and Toni Morrison. Each of these novels and authors provides a fictional, provocative account of the issues of its/his/her day.

If you haven't read a lot of these materials, do not let that dissuade you. I hadn't either, but Professor Weinstein inspired me to read many of them and his teaching method doesn't require you to have read them to enjoy and learn from the course.

I highly recommend all of Professor Weinstein's lit courses. In my opinion, just a lecture or so out of the course's 32 lectures over 16 1/2 hours is worthy of a credit.

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12 of 13 people found this review helpful

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