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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"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.
"Listing Contents of this Interesting Course"
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 :-/ (?)
48 lectures in this course:
1. Anglo-Saxon Roots—Pessimism and Comradeship
2. Chaucer—Social Diversity
3. Chaucer—A Man of Unusual Cultivation
4. Spenser—The Faerie Queene
5. Early Drama—Low Comedy and Religion
6. Marlowe—Controversy and Danger
7. Shakespeare the Man—The Road to the Globe
8. Shakespeare—The Mature Years
9. Shakespeare's Rivals—Jonson and Webster
10. The King James Bible—English Most Elegant
11. The Metaphysicals—Conceptual Daring
12. Paradise Lost—A New Language for Poetry
13. Turmoil Makes for Good Literature
14. The Augustans—Order, Decorum, and Wit
15. Swift—Anger and Satire
16. Johnson—Bringing Order to the Language
17. Defoe—Crusoe and the Rise of Capitalism
18. Behn—Emancipation in the Restoration
19. The Golden Age of Fiction
20. Gibbon—Window into 18th-Century England
21. Equiano—The Inhumanity of Slavery
22. Women Poets—The Minor Voice
23. Wollstonecraft—"First of a New Genus"
24. Blake—Mythic Universes and Poetry
25. Scott and Burns—The Voices of Scotland
26. Lyrical Ballads—Collaborative Creation
27. Mad, Bad Byron
28. Keats—Literary Gold
29. Frankenstein—A Gothic Masterpiece
30. Miss Austen and Mrs. Radcliffe
31. Pride and Prejudice—Moral Fiction
32. Dickens—Writer with a Mission
33. The 1840s—Growth of the Realistic Novel
34. Wuthering Heights—Emily's Masterwork
35. Jane Eyre and the Other Brontë
36. Voices of Victorian Poetry
37. Eliot—Fiction and Moral Reflection
38. Hardy—Life at Its Worst
39. The British Bestseller—An Overview
40. Heart of Darkness—Heart of the Empire?
41. Wilde—Celebrity Author
42. Shaw and Pygmalion
43. Joyce and Yeats—Giants of Irish Literature
44. Great War, Great Poetry
45. Bloomsbury and the Bloomsberries
46. 20th-Century English Poetry—Two Traditions
47. British Fiction from James to Rushdie
48. New Theatre, New Literary Worlds
"So much depth!!"
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.
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.
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.
I really enjoyed Dr. Sutherland's lectures. They were lively, informative, and humorous. I recommend this course to anyone interested in British literature.
"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
"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!
"Classics of British Literature"
Fascinating and delivered with enthusiasm.
Chapter headings w hen selecting a particular course to repeat would be helpful.
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.
I really enjoyed this survey-like course into English literature and will definitely listen to more from Great Courses.
"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.
"Comprehensive Survey of English Literature"
John Sutherland is probably already known to you as an author and critic.
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.
Sutherland's informal, conversational style engages the listener, and also makes the lectures ideal for listening to whilst doing other tasks.
If you are interested in English Literature, this is a brilliant introduction.
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.
"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.
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.
An excellent and thorough , as well as entertaining overarching view of English literature which embraced almost everything written from Beawolf oneards
"Perfectly insightful overview"
This series of lectures is wide and expansive, offering the listener insight and inspiration to reflect on classics in context.
i very much enjjoyed the content along with the inclusive knowledge of the narrator. reccomend.
"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
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.
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