Many of literature's greatest works, from ancient myths to the works of Nobel laureates, rely on fantasy. Even when there has been a dominant preference for realism, generation after generation of readers have been drawn to stories of the fantastic - not only for what they help us learn about ourselves as individuals or as members of society, but also for what they show about our social values. And now one of the world's foremost authorities on the literature of the fantastic and science fiction has created a series of 24 lectures that take you on a journey through some of the most remarkable feats of imagination in all of literature. You'll study strange tales of talking frogs and cannibal witches, from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein to Arthur C. Clarke's astonishing 2001: A Space Odyssey and beyond. Ranging from the early 1800s to contemporary times, Professor Rabkin casts a wide net for fantastic works and delves deeply into some of the most astonishing. You'll learn about the works and times of Edgar Allan Poe, the Brothers Grimm, Virginia Woolf, Lewis Carroll, Franz Kafka, Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, J.R.R. Tolkien, Ray Bradbury, Robert A. Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, and many others. And you'll see how artists you might not have even considered in this context - such as writers like Nathaniel Hawthorne, or composers like Offenbach and Tchaikovsky - owe a creative debt to this remarkably vibrant genre.
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Broad Lit Crit overview of... Mostly Sci Fi
This is a (by necessity) vary broad overview of the literary view of the history of... the fantastic, which is not by any stretch of the imagination fantasy. It starts with Grimm, puts them in a historical context, then moves through the history of... series literature, talking about examples where the surreal comes out. In the end, it presents a broad overview of the history of various sci fi genres and what they have to say about society.
It's very much a literary overview like you might find in a college class.
This was very deep into the literary criticism, and very deep into the sci fi. I was hoping for a more mythic structure look at things, and a broader survey of the fantastic. Instead, it focused mainly on extremely literary works, and took a very literary view of them. I was more hoping for a look of common themes and structures around what made them work as stories, rather than as literature, and also got snowballed by the 'fantastic'.
This is not meant as a criticism of the series, which was interesting, just a warning that a reasonably intelligent person misread the description.
- T. Brehm
I didn't agree with some of the conclusions drawn in the early lectures, which isn't a big deal. Differences of opinion make for good dialogue. But - two of the later lectures touched on works I am very familiar with and made some rather obvious errors in relating the texts - which makes me wonder how many other errors were made re: books I am not as familiar with...