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Classics of British Literature Lecture

Classics of British Literature

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Publisher's Summary

For more than 1,500 years, the literature of Great Britain has taught, nurtured, thrilled, outraged, and humbled readers both inside and outside its borders.

Chaucer, Shakespeare, Dickens, Austen, Swift, Conrad, Wilde - the roster of powerful British writers is remarkable. More important, Britain's writers have long challenged readers with new ways of understanding an ever-changing world.

This series of 48 fascinating lectures by an award-winning professor provides you with a rare opportunity to step beyond the surface of Britain's grand literary masterpieces and experience the times and conditions they came from and the diverse issues with which their writers grappled.

The unique insights Professor Sutherland shares about how and why these works succeed as both literature and documents of Britain's social and political history can forever alter the way you experience a novel, poem, or play.

More than just a survey, these lectures reveal how Britain's cultural landscape acted upon its literature and how, in turn, literature affected the cultural landscape. Professor Sutherland takes a historical approach to the wealth of works explored in these lectures, grounding them in specific contexts and often connecting them with one another.

All the great writers that come to mind when you think of British literature are here, along with unique looks at their most popular and powerful works. You also enjoy the company of less-familiar voices and contemporary authors who continue to take literature into new territories.

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

©2008 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2008 The Great Courses

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  •  
    GC 28/07/2013
    GC 28/07/2013 Member Since 2007
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    "Comprehensive Survey of English Literature"
    What made the experience of listening to Classics of British Literature the most enjoyable?

    John Sutherland is probably already known to you as an author and critic.<br/><br/>Here, he presents a series of 48 short (30 minute) lectures on English Literature from Beowulf, Chaucer and (of course) Shakespeare up to the 20th Century (Samuel Beckett, John Osborne, and Harold Pinter etc.), talking about some of the best poetry and prose ever written - in any language.<br/><br/>Sutherland's informal, conversational style engages the listener, and also makes the lectures ideal for listening to whilst doing other tasks.<br/><br/>If you are interested in English Literature, this is a brilliant introduction.<br/><br/>Tip: The introduction to these lectures mentions course material which isn't supplied with the audiobook download. Whilst this material isn't essential it can be viewed on The Great Courses website.


    10 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jonathan Edinburgh, United Kingdom 11/10/2014
    Jonathan Edinburgh, United Kingdom 11/10/2014 Member Since 2016
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    "Perfect for Newcomers to Serious Literature"

    My school education involved a shockingly scant coverage of English Literature. This course has really helped to fill this gap, and in a thoroughly engaging and enjoyable way. In common with other top lecturers from the Great Courses, Professor Sutherland injects his lectures with his own personality making the material easy to follow. I strongly recommend looking at the lecture titles on the Great Courses web site to see what books/genres are covered. It's very wide ranging and really did have the effect of making me want to read (or actually listen, via audible) to some of the literature covered. I suspect that this course might seem superficial to someone who has done a lot of literature study before (e.g. a former English major) but for me (a mathematics major) it was absolutely perfect.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    paul 04/08/2015
    paul 04/08/2015 Member Since 2016
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    "Very good...."

    What a journey!! I will be listening to this again and again as l revisit the reading lists of these wonderful lectures. Wish I had a teacher like this at school.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Wendy B. 29/04/2015
    Wendy B. 29/04/2015 Member Since 2013
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    "Exceptional"

    An excellent and thorough , as well as entertaining overarching view of English literature which embraced almost everything written from Beawolf oneards

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Meep 06/03/2015
    Meep 06/03/2015 Member Since 2014
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    "Perfectly insightful overview"

    This series of lectures is wide and expansive, offering the listener insight and inspiration to reflect on classics in context.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Orla Lynch 17/02/2015
    Orla Lynch 17/02/2015 Member Since 2017
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    "astounding"

    i very much enjjoyed the content along with the inclusive knowledge of the narrator. reccomend.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    professor robin matthews 05/06/2017 Member Since 2008
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    "Excellent."
    Would you consider the audio edition of Classics of British Literature to be better than the print version?

    Cant say. the notes are helpful though. Lecturing style interesting.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Great consistent coverage.


    Have you listened to any of Professor John Sutherland’s other performances? How does this one compare?

    No


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    I suppose Jane Austin for whose work the author has real affection.


    Any additional comments?

    Recommend highly

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Beebo MK 22/09/2016
    Beebo MK 22/09/2016 Member Since 2014
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    "A must read topic"

    A must read/listen topic for all who are interested in understanding of British Culture. Well narrated by the expert professor Suthetherland who has managed this mammoth task in 48 lectures. Brilliant

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    JayJay United Kingdom 22/02/2015
    JayJay United Kingdom 22/02/2015 Member Since 2016
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    "Very poor"


    The title of this series of lectures is Classics of British Literature however Sutherland seems to think that Britain is only England.
    He does not explain why his choice of works make them classics.
    His stumbling narration is very distracting.
    Very disappointing.

    1 of 4 people found this review helpful
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  • Mark
    Raglan, New Zealand
    14/01/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "The Best of British"

    This audiobook was an enjoyable summary of British Literature from its inception with Beowulf in the dark ages up to the 21st century. As a general rule it was very entertaining, giving the background stories of the authors and describing how their lives and historical circumstances produced their writing. It was fascinating to hear the about the lives of Austen, the Brontes, Dickens and Hardy.

    I found myself zoning out a few times when poetry was the topic. I don’t think this is the fault of the lecturer, poetry just doesn’t really do it for me, although I found the lives of Keats and Byron to be interesting and First World War poetry has always seemed more poignant to me than poetry about love or beauty. As for Milton and Paradise Lost, I still don’t get it even now, even after it has been explained to me.

    My overall verdict is that this is an interesting audiobook and, at 25 hours duration, well worth the price of the credit.

    30 of 30 people found this review helpful
  • Chelle
    NZ
    17/01/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Listing Contents of this Interesting Course"
    Any additional comments?

    Prof. Sutherland has not included Tolkien or Lewis in his lectures - perhaps because TGC's want us to purchase the stand alone courses on these great writers, or maybe Tolkien & Leiws didn't met the criteria TGC's lecturer had set for what he perceived 'Classic' meant :-/ (?)<br/><br/>48 lectures in this course:<br/>1. Anglo-Saxon Roots—Pessimism and Comradeship<br/>2. Chaucer—Social Diversity<br/>3. Chaucer—A Man of Unusual Cultivation<br/>4. Spenser—The Faerie Queene<br/>5. Early Drama—Low Comedy and Religion<br/>6. Marlowe—Controversy and Danger<br/>7. Shakespeare the Man—The Road to the Globe <br/>8. Shakespeare—The Mature Years<br/>9. Shakespeare's Rivals—Jonson and Webster<br/>10. The King James Bible—English Most Elegant<br/>11. The Metaphysicals—Conceptual Daring<br/>12. Paradise Lost—A New Language for Poetry<br/>13. Turmoil Makes for Good Literature<br/>14. The Augustans—Order, Decorum, and Wit<br/>15. Swift—Anger and Satire<br/>16. Johnson—Bringing Order to the Language<br/>17. Defoe—Crusoe and the Rise of Capitalism<br/>18. Behn—Emancipation in the Restoration<br/>19. The Golden Age of Fiction<br/>20. Gibbon—Window into 18th-Century England<br/>21. Equiano—The Inhumanity of Slavery<br/>22. Women Poets—The Minor Voice<br/>23. Wollstonecraft—"First of a New Genus"<br/>24. Blake—Mythic Universes and Poetry<br/>25. Scott and Burns—The Voices of Scotland<br/>26. Lyrical Ballads—Collaborative Creation<br/>27. Mad, Bad Byron<br/>28. Keats—Literary Gold<br/>29. Frankenstein—A Gothic Masterpiece<br/>30. Miss Austen and Mrs. Radcliffe<br/>31. Pride and Prejudice—Moral Fiction<br/>32. Dickens—Writer with a Mission<br/>33. The 1840s—Growth of the Realistic Novel<br/>34. Wuthering Heights—Emily's Masterwork<br/>35. Jane Eyre and the Other Brontë<br/>36. Voices of Victorian Poetry<br/>37. Eliot—Fiction and Moral Reflection<br/>38. Hardy—Life at Its Worst<br/>39. The British Bestseller—An Overview<br/>40. Heart of Darkness—Heart of the Empire?<br/>41. Wilde—Celebrity Author<br/>42. Shaw and Pygmalion<br/>43. Joyce and Yeats—Giants of Irish Literature<br/>44. Great War, Great Poetry<br/>45. Bloomsbury and the Bloomsberries<br/>46. 20th-Century English Poetry—Two Traditions<br/>47. British Fiction from James to Rushdie<br/>48. New Theatre, New Literary Worlds<br/>

    18 of 18 people found this review helpful
  • sask170
    18/06/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Excellent course"

    I really enjoyed Dr. Sutherland's lectures. They were lively, informative, and humorous. I recommend this course to anyone interested in British literature.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Craig
    Beverly Hills, MI, United States
    10/08/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "So much depth!!"
    What did you love best about Classics of British Literature?

    He built real history into each lecture. Prof. Sutherland really understands the time and culture of each author's world, and explains something of how each author's perspective fed their given work. The functional part of the lectures were well researched and quality, but nothing one couldn't find with an hour or so on the Internet (per lecture) - where this shined, and shined impressively is the depth and story built in, helping the reader understand the works they're learning about in a way that just reading a simple article never could. This is truly the intent of college level lecture.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Classics of British Literature?

    I understood the basics of the creation of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. What I didn't know was the structure of the party around them, and Mary's history.


    Which character – as performed by Professor John Sutherland – was your favorite?

    n/a


    Any additional comments?

    If you are a fan of the Great Courses series, this is a very worthy addition. The quality tails at the end, and I was disappointed at the lack of coverage of "children's" literature authors, C.S. Lewis, Lewis Carroll, and J.K. Rowling (among several others) have all made very real contributions to the literary history of Britain, and at the very least should have warranted a lecture devoted to them.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Bernie C.
    05/06/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "great survey of brit lit, no chesterton though!"

    I only give 4 for performance because sometimes he is very quiet and trails off or mumbles making it hard to understand

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • PACMAC
    FRANSCHHOEK, South Africa
    24/01/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Classics of British Literature"

    Fascinating and delivered with enthusiasm.
    Chapter headings w hen selecting a particular course to repeat would be helpful.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Anne
    08/03/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Highly reccomend"

    The content of this series was rich, and enhanced by the wit and passion of Prof. Sutherland. The result is an enriching and extremely enjoyable experience.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Alexandra
    Topeka, KS, USA
    04/05/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Nice"

    I really enjoyed this survey-like course into English literature and will definitely listen to more from Great Courses.

    4 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • Sarah
    United States
    05/02/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Helped supplement college course"

    These lectures were almost lined perfectly with the curriculum of my college Brit lit course. The poems and prose he goes over are some of the most famous works and therefore very helpful for students. I suggest listening to these lectures for review before tests!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Adam Gadomski
    Middle Tennessee
    02/01/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "No Tolkien or Lewis?"

    Not even a mention of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien? Seriously? How can you skip them? It was all relatively good until the 20th century.

    12 of 30 people found this review helpful

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