Heroes and Legends : The Great Courses: World Literature

  • by The Great Courses
  • Narrated by Professor Thomas A. Shippey
  • Series: The Great Courses: World Literature
  • 12 hrs and 15 mins
  • Lecture

Publisher's Summary

Odysseus. Robinson Crusoe. Harry Potter. What do these memorable characters have in common? Why do we turn to certain stories again and again? And what impact have they made on world history? These 24 eye-opening lectures give fresh insight into some of the greatest heroes in world literature, from warriors such as Beowulf and Odysseus to unexpected heroes such as Uncle Tom and Sancho Panza.
Professor Shippey gives you an inside glimpse into the writer's process. Learn how authors "write into the gap" to flesh out-or, in some cases, reimagine altogether-old stories, making them new for new readerships with different values. By examining what makes these heroes such compelling characters, you'll see how they provide a window to better understand ourselves.
From the beginnings of world literature through today's bestsellers, look at what makes characters successful-and how they reflect our changing cultural mores. For instance, after the horrors of global war in the 20th century, the world was waiting for a hero like Frodo Baggins, J.R.R. Tolkien's meek hobbit hero, someone called to duty rather than born strong and fearless.
You'll also examine ways that great heroes have changed the course of history, defining nations and redefining our sense of self and our relationships. From the mythical journey of Aeneas to Jane Austen's country dances, you'll survey a wealth of memorable stories and consider why such heroes were necessary-and how they continue to influence our lives today.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

For those who slept through English literature

Who was your favorite character and why?

Beowulf and Bond.


Any additional comments?

This was an excellent way to frame a history of literature overview. Good for literature newbs, but also likely informative for those who want a bit of reading inspiration.

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- Ian

Society Shapes Heroes

Would you consider the audio edition of Heroes and Legends to be better than the print version?

Yes! Shippey is engaging. He's lecturing is more like story telling really.


What other book might you compare Heroes and Legends to, and why?

Other than the other listens from 'The Great Lectures', this lecture reminds me of the documentaries from the LoftR DVD set.


Have you listened to any of Professor Thomas A. Shippey’s other performances? How does this one compare?

Sadly no.


Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes, and I did - almost.


Any additional comments?

Shippey is engaging. I especially appreciated his points on how the heroes tell us what kind of society tells their stories.

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- Storfod

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-03-2014
  • Publisher: The Great Courses