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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 ToOdysseus. 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....

Title : Heroes and Legends: The most influential characters of literature
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781629970493
Format Type : Audiobook
Number of Pages : 185 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Heroes and Legends: The most influential characters of literature Reviews

  • Jaq Greenspon
    2018-11-20 01:07

    One of the things I like about The Great Courses series is the lectures are all 30 minutes or so, which makes them easily digestible. I have several of the courses (or others like them) in my library and they're great for picking up bits of knowledge between listening to full books. My latest scholarly endeavor then is Heroes and Legends: The Most Influential Characters of Literature as presented by Professor Thomas A. Shippey. Over the course of 24 lectures, he takes his pupils from the beginning of literature, with the Odyssey and Beowulf, right up to the present with Lisbeth Salandar and Harry Potter. Shippey is a knowledgable English Don and fills his lectures with interesting anecdotes mixed in with his scholarly research. With these lectures he's looking, principally, at the evolution of the literary hero (the term being non-gendered, as he mentions several female heroes, including Guinevere, Cressida, and the Wife of Bath among others) from Perfect Specimen to everyday joe. He even includes Winston Smith, the protagonist of Orwell's 1984, as a hero (and his reasoning is quite sound). Fascinating as well is the connections he draws, marking a linear path down through literature. During the lectures, Shippey gives you a synopsis of the particular book whose hero he'll be analyzing, so you're never left out of the loop. Sure, most of the names should be familiar, but you may not recall specifics or know of any but the most famous appearances of the character (For Natty Bumpo, Shippey gives brief recounts of all the Leatherstocking Tales and with Bond and Sherlock Holmes, we hear about as many of their appearances as we need to in order to fully grasp the character's importance.The one hiccough, not counting that he starts with Bilbo and Frodo Baggins - he is a Tolkien scholar after all - is he puts The Color Purple into his list where it's set chronologically, rather than when it was written. This is easily forgiven, though, as Alice Walker's book works more as a historical piece, rather than a modern reflection of a past time. All that said, a lecture is only as good as the lecturer and Shippey is good. He's not a dry academic, understanding pop culture influences and fully aware of what's going on in other media. He's perfectly at home working in references to Hunger Games and Twilight as he is talking about the Aeneid and the Norse Eddas. He'll mention graphic novels and comic books in the same breath as ancient scrolls and oral traditions. The only downside is Shippey's pronunciation is atrocious and his inflections leave you wondering if he needs to work on is breath control. While he's constantly making mistakes with general words, adding emphasis to words which don't need it or not having it when commonly it would be there, the biggest issue (and he's well aware of it) is his insistence on calling Cervantes' Knight Errant Don "quiksette" rather than Quixote. He claims this is how he learned it in school, which makes sense considering the long animosity (think Austin Powers) of the English for pronouncing foreign words with any consideration of the original, but come on! Quixote is such a common name you'd think he'd have gotten over his early prejudice by now. All in all, a great way to spend 12 hours. You'll gain a new appreciation for old characters and add to your reading list with the one new to you.

  • Travis sivarT
    2018-12-19 21:19

    What I really like with the Great Courses is how each lecture is a length that allows for ample time to give a detailed lesson without overkill. This one was really good and the list of heroes was so much more than I expected. Such a variety of literary figures, writing styles, and time periods .

  • Julie Davis
    2018-12-14 00:09

    I am thoroughly enjoying this series by the famous Thomas A. Shippey. It is 24 half-hour lectures about heroes who remain influential in our own day. Odysseus, Beowulf, and Robin Hood mingle with less traditional heroes like the Wife of Bath, Cressida, Celie (The Color Purple), and James Bond. It is like taking a history course viewing cultures through their famous heroes. And, of course, seeing which bits our culture appreciates or has dropped turns that lens upon us. Shippey is wonderful at evoking images to help along the way such as George Jones' songs, comic books, and movies.FINALOverall a very good and interesting course. I do not agree with all of Shippey's conclusions (or inclusions, such as Winston Smith or Dracula). Hence the 4-stars. However, those are small points and I definitely recommend this.

  • Valyssia Leigh
    2018-12-04 00:21

    This lecture series is much like listening to any other top 10, or in this case top 24, list. The majority of the material focuses on justification and synopsis. That is, why Shippey chose 'x' character to discuss and what the character did. In an of itself, this can be quite entertaining. Top 10 lists are, after all, madly popular for a reason. Shippey also makes a point of explaining how heroes have evolved and why. What we find heroic is in some ways quite different than what the ancient Greeks and Romans found heroic. And in some ways it's exactly the same. I'm pleased that Shippey didn't waste time on the modern blockbuster or Arnold Schwarzenegger in these lectures, but really—the major differences between Predator and some of the shtuff the ancients found heroic are all in weapons and the pedigree of the monster. Mercifully Shippey sticks to literature (his bailiwick) or at least primarily to the printed page. He pulls in a few comicbook references here and there when making comparisons, and also some popular retellings of classic stories. In fact, part of the entertainment value of these lectures is the parallels he draws from current fandom favorites to mythology and the classics. Shippey's final purpose in these lectures is an attempt to pin down what makes a hero memorable—what about these characters has given them so much potential to capture the public imagination—to last and even to grow. I don't think he manages to entirely nail that down. He gives it a go, but the answer to is just too much a moving target.So, are these lectures worth wasting time and money on? Yes, I believe so, but the listener should be forewarned that Shippey's speaking style is a little odd. He tends to pause at points that aren't intuitive to the text. He emphasizes words for what seems no reason at all. He's a little bit doddering, and not-so long-winded. He also makes unusual pronunciation choices. And all of that was fine with me. I'm of the opinion that communication is about understanding. I understood him. Moreover, I've certainly listened to others who were brilliant public speakers, and what they managed to impart was a complete load of horse poop. This wasn't. I will advise anyone who is interested to wait to pick this up on sale. There just isn't enough new information to make this worth the list price.

  • Jim
    2018-12-17 22:13

    This series of 24 - 30 minute lectures by Dr. Shippey (audio format) attempts the impossible...define 24 of the most important and influential heroic characters in the entire history of literature (mostly Western). His very first hero? Achilles? Heracles? Moses? Alexander? Buffy the Vampire Slayer?....Nope...Frodo Baggins (and Sam Gamgee, but he still gets second billing)! Maybe the rating should be 3.5.But Shippey pulls it off...he's an emeritus English professor who has written dozens of books about heroes and crooks....well, maybe not many he knows of what he speaks. His lectures are delivered with a proper English-Scottish-Indian accent, ever so clearly, with complete command of his subject...even though you might not agree with his choices. Oh well, it is his course and he can pick is heroes just as well as anyone.His heroes include some of the usual suspects: Odysseus, Aeneas, Beowulf, Thor, Sherlock Holmes, Robin Hood and Don Quixote (I just loved the way he pronounced his name). All good heroes...maybe a little obscure, but good. Then there are the more subtle folks...Uncle Tom, Elizabeth Bennet, Huck Finn, Natty Bumppo and Woodrow Call, for which he (Shippey) makes a good case as being heroic. Then there are some left-fielders: Celie, Mowgli and Winston Smith. Interesting characters without a doubt, but heroes? Meh.Now we come to the (anti?) heroes....James Bond, Lisbeth Salander and Dracula...and the body-count rises.Last chapter? Harry Potter! I really think Shippey thinks that J.K.Rowling is the real hero, but gives it up for Harry.Good set of lectures...quite entertaining, but low on the historical learning scale. Like all these lectures, it makes you think and it makes you want to read, or perhaps reread some of these classics...well, maybe not Pride & Prejudice (unless it has Zombies).Recommended when on sale, with a coupon.

  • Monica
    2018-12-09 23:31

    Favorite Great Course that I have listened to yet! Filled with fantastic academic research, drawing connections across the works of literature, and highlighting unexpected and significant touch points in the development of heroes and legends. I appreciated Shippey's approach to holding each work as a significant contribution to literature while simultaneously offering insightful comparisons. He included both men and women, likely and unlikely as his exemplary heroes, which puts this head and shoulders above the great works of literature lectures. Shippey's accent just made me smile all along the way too! I highly recommend this course.

  • Rachel
    2018-12-14 20:14

    "Don't the great tales never end?" - Samwise GamgeeThis was just perfect. There were moments when I forgot what I was doing in exchange for listening with rapt attention as Shippey lectured on heroes and heroines with equal enthusiasm and fervor, even referencing modern pop culture, and placing everything in context to how they affect the way we perceive our own narratives and those of others. Just fascinating.

  • Gary
    2018-12-02 00:24

    Immensely enjoyable, taught with extraordinary understanding and depth. Great fun, great education.

  • Chelsea
    2018-12-03 21:05

    I'd be lying if I said I didn't skip some characters that I didn't care about. I loved the in depth analyses of my well-loved characters like Elizabeth Bennett, Frodo, Winston Smith, Lisbeth Salander and of course Harry Potter.

  • David Sebek
    2018-11-23 00:18

    A great read about the greatest characters of literature. It's comforting to known there is a bit of the greatest hero's in each of us.

  • Tina Panik
    2018-12-08 03:26

    These 24 lectures, each about 6 tracks each, contain new perspectives on the cannon of literature you read in college, as well as contemporary phenomena like Harry Potter. An enjoyable listen!

  • Erik
    2018-12-14 01:28

    I enjoyed this series of lectures for the summary and recap that it gave of many classic books and characters. This aspect was the best part of it. I felt that the discussion about heroes and what makes a hero was superficial, and I felt that a few of the characters were chosen for reasons other than any kind of recognizable heroism. Or, if they exhibit heroism, it was of the kind that couldbe applied to any character in any book except perhaps the most reprehensible villains. The most striking examples of this being Winston Smith of 1984 and Lisbeth Salander from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and the wife of Bath from the Canterbury Tales. Otherwise, there are a good selection of well known characters from literature through the ages (All English literature except the very oldest examples): Odysseus, Aeneas, Guinevere, Frodo Baggins, James Bond, Elizabeth Bennett, Harry Potter. Overall, I don't feel like I learned much or was guided to any real insights through this series of lectures, but it was enjoyable to me to hear a discussion about many books and characters that I have read. I had read the books that about 90% of the characters came from, and that fact helped me to relate to the discussion better. Those that I hadn't read were largely books that I have consciously made the decision not to read because of their explicit content like The Color Purple and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series.

  • Madeline Maher
    2018-12-04 01:30

    I loved this series of audio lectures. I’ve been wanting to listen to The Great Courses Series for a while now, and finally I decided to start on a subject I really like-literature. It was fantastic. The lectures are all 30ish minutes long, and the lecturer is fun to listen to and full of knowledge on the subject! Even when he was discussing characters I didn’t know, the episode was still interesting. I’m looking forward to listening to other Great Courses series; up next, Shakespeare!

  • Jessica Meyers
    2018-12-13 01:06

    I really love Great Courses. This one was enjoyable and interesting. However I thought he could have switched out about half of the heroes for more suitable ones. Although it wasn't that big of a deal. The thing that really, really, really got on my nerves though is that he has an issue with pronouncing character's names incorrectly! I do still recommend listening to these lectures though.

  • Mary Collin
    2018-12-12 00:06

    Loved it and loved the presenter Thomas Shippey. He was so engaging and enthusiastic. Every lecture was fascinating and it has made me want to revisit a number of books and films!I absolutely love The Great Courses and so far this one is my favourite. Great content, great presentation and insightful. Thank you.

  • Janhavi Shirhatti
    2018-11-22 02:19

    This was a really informative read, and had analyses of some of my favorite characters. At the same time it also explored themes from the stories and explained the origins of the characters. I would have liked it to be a bit more detailed, but it was still really interesting.

  • Jen
    2018-12-01 02:07

    Okay, so, yeah. I argued with the narrator like A LOT. Still, it was an interesting analysis, I don't agree with all of his selections and exclusions, but I think I learned some things.

  • Kerry A
    2018-12-01 23:06

    I really liked this lecture. I really appreciated that included African American figures and feminist figures. Sometimes we only learn about white male contributions.

  • Adam
    2018-12-04 21:28

    Shippey's lectures focus on a number of famous heroic characters from literature, dating back from classical mythology up to contemporary fiction. Each lecture focuses on one (occasionally two) characters and what makes them heroic. It also examines how different cultures in different times have ascribed different values to their heroes, thus making the heroes very different from one another.Shippey never crisply defines what makes a hero a hero. This works to his disadvantage and advantage. Of course, the drawback of this looseness is that after listening to his lecture series, I think "What, so what point was he making?" I can't say I walked away with a profound understanding of something, though he does make some compelling connections (for instance, the fact that Winston Smith of "1984" and James Bond are very different heroes that came out of post-WWII Britain was surprise). This approach,however, also allows him to range from era to era, making observations and connections without being locked into a thesis. Overall, I would call this a broad rather than deep survey that is interesting but never really takes me anywhere new.On a side note, if you are listening to these lectures, you may or may not enjoy his speaking. He presents in a theatrical, jovial tone that I found entertaining. My wife said he sounded pompous and full of himself. Either way, Shippey presents rather than talks. What is inexcusable is his mispronunciation of important names. No one pronounces "Quixote" as "KWIK-sut." It's "kee-HO-tay." And the Mohicans are "mo-HE-kuns," not "MOW-i-kuns." Come on.

  • Hope
    2018-11-30 02:31

    Each of these lectures offers important insights into the world's great works of literature and why their heroes have lived on in our hearts and imaginations. How could I not love this series when it started out with a most unlikely hero, Frodo Baggins? Shippey explains why the world needed such a hero at that time in history.Some of the lectures share additional, unknown information about famous characters (such as Robin Hood). Others walk the listener through the character's most famous story (Odysseus). I enjoyed the variety, Shippey's expertise and his dry wit. Although the final lectures include people that I would not have selected as heroes (Celie from The Color Purple and Winston Smith from 1984, for example), Shippey argues convincingly for their importance.This was a refresher course on books I'd already read, and whetted my appetite for some of the others, except for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which sounds horrific. I have my doubts about that choice, but figure it was added to appeal to 21st century readers.

  • Anne Hawn Smith
    2018-12-18 21:14

    This was an excellent summary of the different kinds of heroes and legends that are found in literature, including contemporary novels. The first part which deals with literature such as The Odyssey, Beowulf, and other early legends. I studied them in college, but I have forgotten a lot of those stories and I got a little lost. However, after about the 5th book the series became much more interesting. Dr. Shippey detailed heroes in just about every era and it was extremely interesting to peel back the layers of story to reach the basic hero story. The last lecture was about Harry Potter and it summed up a lot of my own feelings about Rowling's books and why they have had such a wide appeal to readers of every age.Aside from being interesting, this series is great for listening to. It is broken up into 30-minute lectures which provide a synopsis of each book. If you need a synopsis of one of the books mentioned it is easy to listen to just the section you want.

  • Nancy
    2018-12-07 01:06

    I really liked it...up to a point. I found Shippey's lecture style easy to listen to and he makes many valid comparisons between Heroes/Legends of ancient time and those of later periods. I especially like his theories on new authors writing "into the gap" left by the early classics. I have to say, however, that when he began to move toward the modern age, I found his choice of 'heros' interesting but not as well supported by his evidence. James Bond? Lisbeth Salander? Harry Potter? IMHO I'm not sure I would classify them as the "most influential" characters in literature even though he makes some valid points. I do recommend this course, however, for it's perspective on changing cultural attitudes towards heroes and legends and the in depth discussion of some of the classics (ancient as well as 20th century).

  • Kaye
    2018-11-28 22:12

    This is a great collection of 30-minute lectures on fictional characters that, while not overly analytical on the literary criticism scale, raise interesting questions and lightly explore themes and symbols connected with the selected characters in a way that is at once both entertaining and thought-provoking. It's nice to be able to skip back and forth between "chapters" to listen to the lectures most interesting at the moment, and then go back to others when time or activity will allow for a more focused listening experience.My favorites were the lectures on fairy tale heroines, Harry Potter, Frodo Baggins, and Guinevere.

  • Jeff
    2018-11-18 22:19

    Shippey covers 24 different heroes/heroines in this course. In each lesson he gives enough of a synopsis to discuss the why the hero is the hero of the story. He frequently includes overall analogies the story is making. I very much enjoyed the series and will listen to it again as I read or reread the stories discussed. The lectures I found the least interesting were the ones on stories I had not read, which was only a few of them. This would be an excellent resource for someone wanting to know 'why' to read great literature. Shippey's humor and enthusiasm are a model for all those who teach literature.

  • M. Patrick
    2018-12-15 02:11

    Heroes and Legends: The most influential characters of literature by Thomas A. Shippey is made up of 24 lectures in which he analyzes heroes and heroines from classical and popular literature. His basic hypothesis throughout the lectures was that what was happening at the time authors created their characters had the most to do with what defined them as heroes or heroines. The truth of this position was best argued in the lectures onOdysseus, Uncle Tom's Cabin, 1984, James Bond, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo , and Harry Potter. His discussions of these characters gave me new insight into previously enjoyed reads and listens.

  • Alan Chong
    2018-11-23 23:28

    An interesting and eccentric collection of 24 "heroes" that Prof. Shippey argues are the most influential characters of literature. I'm not convinced that this collection is particularly sensible or contributes to a coherent reading of the role of the hero in literature. Readers/listeners will like some of his choices, and dislike others (Cressida? Really?), but there is very little to tie these lectures together into a thread that makes a strong argument about the various roles that heroes play, and it seems largely like 24 independent lectures.

  • Jay
    2018-12-07 21:08

    A series of lectures given by a Sean Connery soundalike, each focusing on various heroes of literature, from Frodo to Odysseus, Thor, Robin Hood, James Bond, Harry Potter and many more. I had fun trying to guess who was next and it was nice to be able to skip the lectures about characters I didn't care about without it affecting the next lecture. This was my first Great Courses audiobook and it definitely piqued my interested.

  • Lori
    2018-12-20 02:06

    This book is divided into 24 lectures which makes it conducive to listening over long period of time. Each lecture is about a different hero or legend that still resinates with us. How they came to be written and how they've been adapted into popular culture. Some of Shippey's pronunciations are atrocious but at least he warns of this. For a broad general knowledge this book is great in parts. Some lectures are not as interesting as others.

  • Illyria
    2018-11-30 01:24

    Naučila jsem se toho spoustu z těhle lekcí. Ne vždy jsem souhlasila se všemi závěry týkající se mých oblíbených hrdinů a příval informací o hrdinech, které jsem do teď neznala, mohl na mě občas být trochu moc, ale i tak to bylo fascinující.Jedna moje část by si chtěla přečíst knihu a dojít k takovým závěrům, vidět v ní víc než jen příběh, ale má druhá část chce číst právě jen kvůli těm příběhům... Jednou se k tomu snad vypracuji, krůček za krůčkem.

  • Scott Lee
    2018-11-29 22:12

    Shippey makes some choices that I think many would consider rather bizarre for a series called "the most influential characters of literature," but setting aside the rather misleading title this is a fascinating series of meditations on the many variations of the modern hero (with a couple truly classical heroes thrown in). It was fun. and Shippey is one of the better lecturers I've encountered in any Great Courses audiobook.