Who can imagine life without novels? They have served not merely as diversions but as companions for so much of our lives, offering hours of pleasure and, at their best, insights few of us can ever quantify. But the simple joy of reading novels sometimes obscures our awareness of the deeper roles they play in our lives: honing our intellect, quenching our emotional thirsts, and shaping our sense of ourselves and of the world we live in. And this may be especially obvious in the case of the English novel, as you'll see in this engaging series of 24 lectures from an award-winning teacher. Under Professor Spurgin's guidance, you'll learn how the period that gave rise to the novel in England corresponded with a convulsive social transformation - one that produced the world's first modern, capitalist economy. Along the way, traditional social values often appeared to be outdated, as did traditional narrative forms. You'll see how the great English novelists were eager to create something new and different, breaking from traditions in which stories were usually centered on aristocrats and nobles to focus instead on the thoughts and feelings of ordinary people and taking pains to capture the rhythms of everyday life. At the same time, they also reacted to a number of larger developments: industrialization and urbanization, democratization and globalization. By placing more than two centuries of great English novelists in the context of British history and showing how their lives intersected with the creation of their art, these lectures offer a fascinating look at a form of enduring popularity and importance whose influence has been felt everywhere novels are read.
by Timothy Spurgin
by Timothy Taylor
by Luke Timothy Johnson
"Novels come in all types and sizes--some profound, some unreadable. Professor Spurgin tries to make sense of this wild array, but in the English tradition only. He explores its history and major figures over the past 250 years, from Richardson to Woolf. Confining himself to that tradition does not limit Spurgin, however. His lectures are comprehensive but never dull. True, he concentrates less on the style of the individual writers--the playful precision of Austen and the flamboyance of Dickens, for example--than on their contribution to the larger themes in the tradition, but this is a course on the novel, not its individual representatives. As always, The Teaching Company includes a handy guidebook and complete transcripts of the lectures. P.E.F. (c) AudioFile 2007, Portland, Maine"
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