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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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By GC on 28-07-13

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.

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.

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10 of 11 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Jonathan on 11-10-14

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.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Chelle on 17-01-17

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 :-/ (?)

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

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50 of 50 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Mark on 14-01-14

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.

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39 of 39 people found this review helpful

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