The Modern Scholar

  • by Michael D.C. Drout
  • 7 hrs and 50 mins
  • Lecture

Publisher's Summary

The overwhelming success of the Lord of the Rings films and the Harry Potter series aptly demonstrates that the fantasy genre is alive and well in the new millennium. The names of authors such as J.R.R. Tolkien, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Terry Brooks evoke ripe tales of heroism and the clash of good versus evil in magical, faraway lands. The rich collection of King Arthur tales have also captured the imagination of millions and resonates with audiences to the present day.Should fantasy be considered serious literature, or is it merely escapism? In this course, the roots of fantasy and the works that have defined the genre are examined. Incisive analysis and a deft assessment of what makes these works so very special provides a deeper insight into beloved works and a better understanding of why fantasy is such a pervasive force in modern culture.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

An Informative, Stimulating, and Enjoyable Class

I enjoyed Professor Michael D. C. Drout???s 14-lecture class on modern fantasy, which mainly focus on J. R. R. Tolkien, which is fine, because Tolkien is a major figure in modern fantasy. Professor Drout has a pleasing enthusiasm and a comprehensible clarity as he lectures.

After discussing the fantasy genre (a hybridization combining oral epics with novelistic techniques and concerns), Drout limns the origins of modern fantasy (Victorian works like the Alice books, The Waterbabies, and The Princess and the Goblin), and then dives into Tolkien, depicting relevant facts about his life and philological study before assessing The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, as well as difficult work like The Silmarillion and important scholarly essays on Beowulf and fantasy. Drout next covers two followers of Tolkien, Brooks the imitator and Donaldson the reactor, as well as two ???worthy inheritors??? who create fantasy as aesthetically and thematically consistent and compelling as that of Tolkien: Ursula K. Le Guin and Robert Holdstock. He then discusses children???s fantasy (Narnia, The Dark is Rising, Prydain, and a bit of Rowling and Pullman) and then the Arthurian genre (T. H. White, Mary Stewart, and Marion Zimmer Bradley). He concludes with a chapter on magical realism (Borges and Garcia-Marquez), arguing that, unlike most modern fantasy, it denies rather than provides healthy escape and is oriented around tragedy rather than Tolkieniean eucatastrophe.

I like the many insights that Drout provides as he lectures, like about Le Guin???s solution to death in The Other Wind or about class in The Hobbit or about the way in which Peter Jackson???s movies make Tolkien???s world smaller. Sure, I wish he???d have covered more authors (like L. Frank Baum, Lord Dunsany, E. R. Eddison, Robert E. Howard, Mervyn Peake, or Michael Swanwick) and to have gone into more detail in non-Tolkien chapters, but that only shows how much I enjoyed his ???class??? and wished it could have been twice as long.
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- Jefferson "I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics."

One of my very favorite Audibles ever!

I've been going through some family health crisis stuff lately and I find that's Drout's lectures are so fascinating they are the one thing that can completely take my mind off my problems. I started with his lecture on Anglo Saxon stuff and was delighted to find this one when I finished. I downloaded and saved it for a day I expected to get some bad news. Sure enough... it was bad but like magic this lecture kept my mind occupied for hours on end and left me in a good mood. I didn't realize there would be so much on The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings my two favorite books of all time. I've no interest whatever in poetry and writing but I'm thinking about getting those lectures too. The guy is just so enthusiastic about the material. What a treasure!
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- Joseph Furlan

Book Details

  • Release Date: 11-24-2008
  • Publisher: Recorded Books