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Understanding Literature and Life: Drama, Poetry and Narrative

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TEN AUDIO CASSETTES (PARTS 1 NAD 2) OF DRAMA


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TEN AUDIO CASSETTES (PARTS 1 NAD 2) OF DRAMA

30 review for Understanding Literature and Life: Drama, Poetry and Narrative

  1. 4 out of 5

    Thomas

    I always learn something from the Great Courses and this one is no exception. I’m also always up for something about literature since I do like books. All in all, I enjoyed this one but I consider twenty lectures on poetry to be more about character building than entertainment. I figured it would be useful to fill in a tiny bit of a gaping hole in my knowledge since I’ve read very little poetry. There was plenty of analysis of books I haven’t read and some that I have. In the end, it was worth my I always learn something from the Great Courses and this one is no exception. I’m also always up for something about literature since I do like books. All in all, I enjoyed this one but I consider twenty lectures on poetry to be more about character building than entertainment. I figured it would be useful to fill in a tiny bit of a gaping hole in my knowledge since I’ve read very little poetry. There was plenty of analysis of books I haven’t read and some that I have. In the end, it was worth my time.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Gary

    Enriching, enlightening, inspiring. Broad, deep, and well worth the length; I will listen to more of Arnold Weinstein's courses. I will read some works that I haven't read yet; I will listen to the lectures again. Check The Great Courses for a list of the array of works that Weinstein discusses. Some, which I have taught, will be taught with more richness and depth now. Others that I haven't taught will doubtless find a way into courses or discussions, not only with regard to the works discussed Enriching, enlightening, inspiring. Broad, deep, and well worth the length; I will listen to more of Arnold Weinstein's courses. I will read some works that I haven't read yet; I will listen to the lectures again. Check The Great Courses for a list of the array of works that Weinstein discusses. Some, which I have taught, will be taught with more richness and depth now. Others that I haven't taught will doubtless find a way into courses or discussions, not only with regard to the works discussed here but also with regard to other works, which these lectures will also enrich.

  3. 4 out of 5

    John P.

    I would listen to this professor discuss the phone book! I have listened to several courses that he has produced for The Great Courses. I always grow and am enticed to read more of the classics.

  4. 4 out of 5

    sch

    May 2020. After three lectures on drama and Oedipus, the speaker's philosophy is getting in the way. I don't have a good name for it yet, but he has characterized deconstruction, Freud, and Marx with disconcerting blitheness. Naturally this leads to some muddy interpretations and vague assertions, but so far it hasn't ruined everything. He can be quite clear and sensitive when discussing a line or a speech. After 14 lectures, my judgment is unchanged. Like many academic critics, he is sound enoug May 2020. After three lectures on drama and Oedipus, the speaker's philosophy is getting in the way. I don't have a good name for it yet, but he has characterized deconstruction, Freud, and Marx with disconcerting blitheness. Naturally this leads to some muddy interpretations and vague assertions, but so far it hasn't ruined everything. He can be quite clear and sensitive when discussing a line or a speech. After 14 lectures, my judgment is unchanged. Like many academic critics, he is sound enough when rehearsing historical data or performing literary analysis or discovering unexpected connections within books or between authors, but less so when commenting on society or making metaphysical assertions. After 20 lectures: this series was recorded in 1995, when post-structural literary theory and cultural studies were still hip. To his credit, the author sees and admits the nihilism implicit in these strange and supposedly academic activities--see Lecture 20. But that doesn't change the value of his lectures, which, so far, are still a large but mostly barren tree. On Lecture 23: The analysis of Shakespeare's Sonnet 146 is hampered by gross ignorance of the Christian tradition. He is working with a Wikipedia-deep knowledge of the biblical and theological context. Not sure if I can take another 20 hours of this lecturer. On Lecture 24: "I think it's fair to say that the next great poet after William Shakespeare in the English tradition is William Blake." A remarkable statement from an accoladed, tenured professor at an Ivy League school. What about Donne, Milton, Dryden, Pope? It is only defensible if he means "lyric poets." After 32 lectures: I've decided to finish, but the lyric lectures are difficult in a new way. Part II, like Part I, is organized chronologically. He devotes two or three lessons to each poet (Shakespeare, Blake, Whitman, et al.), first presenting a thesis about the poet's work (which, inevitably, will be complicated before the final lecture), then reciting short poems or excerpts and offering a line-by-line commentary. The criticism is often enlightening on individual poems, but tiresome, for the series is too long, and the approach is too self-involved. One irritating verbal tic is the frequent qualification of assertions with phrases like "a kind of" or "a sort of." I take this habit to be (a) an act of preemptive defensiveness, born out of years in the academic trenches, or (b) a symptom of his hazy metaphysics and rhetoric. After 40 lectures (end of Part Two, on lyric poetry): The bright spots are the six lectures on Baudelaire, Frost, and Stevens, whose work is only problematized (i.e. revealed as more complex than we thought), not deconstructed. He takes the same approach to Rich in the final two lectures, but I don't feel qualified to judge them because I don't know her poetry well enough; based on these lectures, I'm not interested in learning. Moving on to Part Three, fictional narrative. Lecture 41: The introduction to narrative art is the most useful analytic tool he has provided so far; with the notion of the vertical and horizontal dimensions of stories (meaning time and space, whose positions I would have reversed), he is finally delivering on the promise of the title of this series: to show us how we can better understand "life" through literature. (This lecture also includes a clear example of 'hazy metaphysics': "Words cannot die, they are not possessed of flesh and blood. And so they live." The lines read like a syllogism, and in fact Weinstein delivers them like a syllogism. But they are laughably false, relying on a false dichotomy that Socrates and Diotima--or Foucault or Derrida--could have exploded for him. Of course he is speaking metaphorically, paraphrasing an age-old chestnut about the 'immortality' of the word (ars longa, vita brevis, etc.). But however we take this informal syllogism, its force relies on equivocation; his reformulation of the old doctrine can have power only for those who have not studied logic.) Finished, still disappointed. The lectures in the latter half of Part III were better than the first half: JANE EYRE, BARTLEBY, Kafka, Faulkner, and THE COLOR PURPLE. His go-to theoretical approach is Freudian, which is more or less productive. It has some purchase on the books, but ultimately I find it unpersuasive. His reading of the Bronte novel was his most plausible psychoanalytic work, and I'd like to reread it again, then retry those three lectures. His deconstructive, cultural-studies, and ideological/multicultural criticism lead (usually) to dead ends. Weinstein really cares about the books he's reading: he is professionally "honest" in that regard. You can tell that a sensitive and sincere critic doesn't believe in the point he's making when he qualifies it for a live audience. He frequently resorts to such hedging phrases as, "I know some of you don't particularly like this..." and "This may sound esoteric, but..." That's because he's outside his preferred critical comfort zone. He never makes such qualifications about his psychoanalytically-flavored claims. Takeaways and reminders: * The essentially social nature of drama: bodies on stage, voices intoning lines, audience in seats. * The centrality of the notion of "agon" in drama. * (Want to read Moliere's Tartuffe.) * I'd never heard of Buchner, an intriguing and seemingly anachronistic figure. * (Want to read Strindberg's The Father.) * Focus on "the city" in modernist poetry. * Vertical and horizontal axes of fiction. * (Want to read more Kafka and Faulkner.)

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jim Razinha

    I like to listen to The Teaching Company's Great Courses while commuting, and 2020 being the year it was, didn't get to as many this year because my commute was quite short...bedroom to dining room"office", interspersed with real commute trips to the my actual office. This particular series by Prof. Arnold Weinstein is 64 lectures and I finally finished it two weeks ago on two 13 hour drives to Tennessee and back. Weinstein surveys a selction of theater (plays), poets, and literature (novels and I like to listen to The Teaching Company's Great Courses while commuting, and 2020 being the year it was, didn't get to as many this year because my commute was quite short...bedroom to dining room"office", interspersed with real commute trips to the my actual office. This particular series by Prof. Arnold Weinstein is 64 lectures and I finally finished it two weeks ago on two 13 hour drives to Tennessee and back. Weinstein surveys a selction of theater (plays), poets, and literature (novels and stories). He's an engaging speaker. For Theater: Oedipus the King, Othello, Moliere's Tartuffe, Georg Büchner's Woyceck, August Strindberg's The Father, and Beckett's Waiting for Godot. I was not familiar with Büchner or Strindberg, and those were enlightening. For Poetry: Weinstein selected some sonnets from Shakespeare (I'd recently read them all), and poems from Blake, Whitman, Dickinson, Baudelaire, Frost, working to modernists Wallace Stevens and Adrienne Rich. Of all the written arts, I struggle the most with poetry and I admit not knowing anything about the latter two poets and without this series, probably would never because I struggle hardest with formless compositions that the authors call poems. Still, I am curious about things I am not interested in and Weinstein broadened my worldview. Of Literature: Weinstein made the claim that Chretien de Troyes’ Yvain is the first true novel; he warns that Francisco de Quevedo’s The Swindler is thoroughly unlikely and hardly known example of Picaresque, but gives a great overview of its importance; Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders; Dickens’s Great Expectations (I escaped having to read that one in school...but am interested now); Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre (also never read and interested); the stories Herman Melville’s “Bartleby”, Kafka’s “Metamorphosis”, and Faulkner’s “The Bear”; and Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. I won't go into the details of all he covered because, well, Weinstein covered a lot. What he did do was prompt me to seek out some of the works (Project Gutenberg is a great source for open domain) and put them on my 2021 list. I'll see if I actually get to them. I will however continue my Great Courses, because I learn so much from them.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Bay

    Insightful? Very. Interesting? Sure. Peaks and valleys*? Oh yes That is: parts were good but a few lumps here and there. Audio quality is ok, this being a 90s recording and Weinstein is given to mumbling some parts. But overall I enjoyed it. A nice change from podcasts and YouTube and a welcome escape from reality. Listened to it while cooking and cleaning and it helped turn those chores into and illuminating experience. * Let’s just hope the author doesn’t read too much into this and points out Insightful? Very. Interesting? Sure. Peaks and valleys*? Oh yes That is: parts were good but a few lumps here and there. Audio quality is ok, this being a 90s recording and Weinstein is given to mumbling some parts. But overall I enjoyed it. A nice change from podcasts and YouTube and a welcome escape from reality. Listened to it while cooking and cleaning and it helped turn those chores into and illuminating experience. * Let’s just hope the author doesn’t read too much into this and points out the innuendo of peaks and valleys)

  7. 5 out of 5

    J. Ellen Daniels

    I like this particular professor and that colors my experience with these books. This book for sixty some half hour lectures and it took me a while to get through them. Not because the subject matter wasn't interesting - it was. I found myself repeating a few of the lectures they were so good. I like this particular professor and that colors my experience with these books. This book for sixty some half hour lectures and it took me a while to get through them. Not because the subject matter wasn't interesting - it was. I found myself repeating a few of the lectures they were so good.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Halliwell

    Weinstein taught me so much about literature and poetry within the context of real life. I had never thought of story as a way to transmit my experiences to someone else, or lots of other people. This book really taught me a lot about reading and writing.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Michael P.

    Very good introductions to a lot of writers I have read and many that I have not. I am not always convinced by Weinstein's comments, especially his praise, but I am glad to have been exposed to his readings. Very good introductions to a lot of writers I have read and many that I have not. I am not always convinced by Weinstein's comments, especially his praise, but I am glad to have been exposed to his readings.

  10. 4 out of 5

    BookScout

  11. 4 out of 5

    Pellvetica

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kelly Morgan

  13. 5 out of 5

    John

  14. 5 out of 5

    Francesca

  15. 4 out of 5

    DL Link

  16. 5 out of 5

    Dhari Alshammari

  17. 4 out of 5

    Alan

  18. 4 out of 5

    Eli

  19. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

  20. 5 out of 5

    Svetlana

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ben

  22. 4 out of 5

    Almachius

  23. 4 out of 5

    Irick

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sean Norris

  25. 5 out of 5

    Erik

  26. 5 out of 5

    Andrea Sefler

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ranran

  28. 4 out of 5

    Peter

  29. 4 out of 5

    Michael Condon

  30. 4 out of 5

    Rok

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