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Classics of Russian Literature

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Russian literature famously probes the depths of the human soul, and in this series of 36 insightful lectures prepared by a frequently honored teacher legendary among educators in both the United States and Russia - you probe just as deeply into the extraordinary legacy that is Russian Literature itself. Professor Weil introduces you to masterpieces such as Tolstoy's War a Russian literature famously probes the depths of the human soul, and in this series of 36 insightful lectures prepared by a frequently honored teacher legendary among educators in both the United States and Russia - you probe just as deeply into the extraordinary legacy that is Russian Literature itself. Professor Weil introduces you to masterpieces such as Tolstoy's War and Peace, Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment, Pushkin's Eugene Onegin, Gogol's Dead Souls, Chekhov's The Seagull, Pasternak's Doctor Zhivago, and many other great novels, stories, plays, and poems. In all, you plunge into more than 40 works by a dozen writers, from Aleksandr Pushkin in the 19th century to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in the 20th century. You also investigate the origin of Russian literature itself, which traces its lineage back to powerful epic poetry and beautiful renderings of the Bible into Slavic during the Middle Ages. All of these works are treated in translation, but Professor Weil does something very unusual in the literature-in-translation arena. For almost every passage that he quotes in English, he reads an extract in the original Russian, with a fluent accent and an actor's sense of drama.


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Russian literature famously probes the depths of the human soul, and in this series of 36 insightful lectures prepared by a frequently honored teacher legendary among educators in both the United States and Russia - you probe just as deeply into the extraordinary legacy that is Russian Literature itself. Professor Weil introduces you to masterpieces such as Tolstoy's War a Russian literature famously probes the depths of the human soul, and in this series of 36 insightful lectures prepared by a frequently honored teacher legendary among educators in both the United States and Russia - you probe just as deeply into the extraordinary legacy that is Russian Literature itself. Professor Weil introduces you to masterpieces such as Tolstoy's War and Peace, Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment, Pushkin's Eugene Onegin, Gogol's Dead Souls, Chekhov's The Seagull, Pasternak's Doctor Zhivago, and many other great novels, stories, plays, and poems. In all, you plunge into more than 40 works by a dozen writers, from Aleksandr Pushkin in the 19th century to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in the 20th century. You also investigate the origin of Russian literature itself, which traces its lineage back to powerful epic poetry and beautiful renderings of the Bible into Slavic during the Middle Ages. All of these works are treated in translation, but Professor Weil does something very unusual in the literature-in-translation arena. For almost every passage that he quotes in English, he reads an extract in the original Russian, with a fluent accent and an actor's sense of drama.

24 review for Classics of Russian Literature

  1. 4 out of 5

    Bettie

    Slavic history shows us many characters of which more than a few were an onion short of a cathedral, so what's not to love here. Irwin Weil loves his subject, lives it with a passion, and has a fair singing voice too. Lecture 6 really did it for me: Pushkin proclaimed at an early age that he, in his present day, was the embodiment of genius that visited Mozart. Pushkin's work on Mozart is the basis for Schaffer's 'Amadeus'. Lecture 1: Origins of Russian Literature Lecture 2: The Church and the Fo Slavic history shows us many characters of which more than a few were an onion short of a cathedral, so what's not to love here. Irwin Weil loves his subject, lives it with a passion, and has a fair singing voice too. Lecture 6 really did it for me: Pushkin proclaimed at an early age that he, in his present day, was the embodiment of genius that visited Mozart. Pushkin's work on Mozart is the basis for Schaffer's 'Amadeus'. Lecture 1: Origins of Russian Literature Lecture 2: The Church and the Folk in Old Kiev Lecture 3: Alexsandr Sergeevich Pushkin 1799-1837 Lecture 4: Exile, Rustic seclusion and Onegin Lecture 5: December's Uprising and Two Poets Meet Lecture 6: A Poet Contrasts Talent and Mediocrity Lecture 7: St. Petersburg Glorified and Death Embraced Lecture 8: Nikolai Vasil'evitch Gogol 1809-1852 Lecture 9: Russian Grotesque - Overcoats to Dead Souls Lecture 10: Fedor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky 1821-1881 Lecture 11: Near mortality, Prison, and an Underground Lecture 12: Second wife, and a Great New Novel begins Lecture 13: Inside the Troubled Mind of a Criminal Lecture 14: The Generation of the Karamazovs Lecture 15: The Novelistic Presence of Christ and Satan Lecture 16: Lev Nikolaevich Tolstoy (1828 - 1910) Lecture 17: A Tale of Two Cities and a Country Home Lecture 18: Family Life Meets Military Life with War and Peace Lecture 19: Vengeance is Mine, Saith the Lord: Anna Karenina Lecture 20: Family life makes a comeback Lecture 21: Tolstoy the Preacher Lecture 22: Ivan Sergeevich Turgenev 1818 - 1883 Lecture 23: The stresses between two generations Lecture 24: Anton Pavlovich Chekhov 1860-1904 Lecture 25: M Gorky (Aleksei M Peshkov) 1868-1936 Lecture 26: Literature and Revolution Lecture 27: The Tribune Vladimir Maiakovsky 1893-1930 Lecture 28: The Revolution makes a U turn Lecture 29: Mikhail Aleksandrovich Sholokhov 1905-1984 Lecture 30: Revolutions and Civil War Lecture 31: Mikhail Mikhailovich Zoshchenko 1894-1958 Lecture 32: Among the Godless Lecture 33: Pasternak 1890-1960 Lecture 34: The Poet in and Beyond Society Lecture 35: Solzhenitsyn 1918-2008 Lecture 36: The Many Colours of Russian Literature MY PHOTO: Pushkin Peter the Great killed his son and built on a swamp... comme il faut adj. Being in accord with conventions or accepted standards; proper NONFIC NOVEMBER 2015: CR White Mughals 5* A History of England from the Tudors to the Stuarts 3* Rome and the Barbarians 4* Field Notes From A Hidden City 3* The King's Jews: Money, Massacre and Exodus in Medieval England CR A History of Palestine 634-1099 3* Charlotte Brontë: A Life 3* The Alhambra 5* A Long Walk in the Himalaya: A Trek from the Ganges to Kashmir 3* Buddhist Warfare 4* A Gathering of Spoons AB A Brief History of Roman Britain - Conquest and Civilization 4* Victorian Glassworlds: Glass Culture and the Imagination, 1830-1880 3* Food Safari 4* She-Wolves 3* India: A Portrait 2* The Archaeology of Ancient Sicily 5* Classics of Russian Literature CR The Battle of Salamis TTC: 4* History of Science 1700 - 1900 5* A History of England from the Tudors to the Stuarts TR Secrets of Sleep TR Turning Points in Modern History TR Apocalypse 4* Myth in Human History 3* A History of Russia TR Classic Novels 5* London 4* Re-thinking Our Past 4* The Vikings OH Lost Worlds of South America 3* Rome and the Barbarians TR Living the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon OH History of Science: Antiquity to 1700 TR Albert Einstein: Physicist, Philosopher, Humanitarian TR Will to Power: The Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche 5* From Monet To Van Gogh: A History Of Impressionism 5* History of the English language TR The Late Middle Ages 3* Great American Music: Boadway Musicals 5* Classics of Russian Literature

  2. 4 out of 5

    Nick

    “A gallop through Russian literature.” These introductory lectures brought back memories of Russian novels I have read over the years and revived my interest in reading some that I have not read (and there are quite a few). The lecturer, Irwin Weil, knows his Russian language and the history of Russian literature really well, so I felt I was in good hands. Lectures on Pushkin, Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy (deservedly) went into a bit of detail, while other authors had a couple of lectures devoted to “A gallop through Russian literature.” These introductory lectures brought back memories of Russian novels I have read over the years and revived my interest in reading some that I have not read (and there are quite a few). The lecturer, Irwin Weil, knows his Russian language and the history of Russian literature really well, so I felt I was in good hands. Lectures on Pushkin, Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy (deservedly) went into a bit of detail, while other authors had a couple of lectures devoted to them, like Gogol, Sholokhov, Maiakovsky and Pasternak. It seemed a pity that Chekhov only had one lecture (!), Goncharov was mentioned briefly in passing, Bulgakov and Grossman not at all. So many authors, the course could have had quite a few more lectures added to it. Very helpful and I would listen to these again in the future.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Cb

    I know it is a lecture but never there was a boring moment!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Nate Q

    Leaving Bulgakov out of a Russian Lit Lineup is pretty much akin to leaving Iron Man out of an Avengers movie. That aside, I loved this course. The only downside was the lack of coverage of Bulgakov, as a result of his being banned for so long in the Soviet Union (and virtually unknown in the west at the time the professor was working on his PhD). The author didn't so much as mention him. This covers everyone from Pushkin to Solzhenitsyn, providing incredible historical context, perfectly pronou Leaving Bulgakov out of a Russian Lit Lineup is pretty much akin to leaving Iron Man out of an Avengers movie. That aside, I loved this course. The only downside was the lack of coverage of Bulgakov, as a result of his being banned for so long in the Soviet Union (and virtually unknown in the west at the time the professor was working on his PhD). The author didn't so much as mention him. This covers everyone from Pushkin to Solzhenitsyn, providing incredible historical context, perfectly pronounced phrases and poems, and an in-depth walk through *almost* all the best Russian works.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Brendan Monroe

    I could have done without the many lectures on Pushkin - who by Weil's own admission, is essentially untranslatable - but this did greatly add to my "to-read" list. But the omission of Mikhail Bulgakov is close to unforgivable. I could have done without the many lectures on Pushkin - who by Weil's own admission, is essentially untranslatable - but this did greatly add to my "to-read" list. But the omission of Mikhail Bulgakov is close to unforgivable.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

    An excellent introduction to the classics of Russian literature, delivered with erudition and passion by Irwin Weil of Northwestern.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lina

    I am Russian. That means that most of my school Literature curriculum was all about Russian literature. I read and analysed with a professional teacher all the books and much more of what Mr. Weil talks about. Being a Russian also means that the language the author studied as a university student is native to me. (This was my basis of judging the audio book here) Mr. Weil is definitely a professional and he knows much more details about lives and works of the authors he talks about than I do. I s I am Russian. That means that most of my school Literature curriculum was all about Russian literature. I read and analysed with a professional teacher all the books and much more of what Mr. Weil talks about. Being a Russian also means that the language the author studied as a university student is native to me. (This was my basis of judging the audio book here) Mr. Weil is definitely a professional and he knows much more details about lives and works of the authors he talks about than I do. I should also mention that he has nearly flawless Russian pronunciation, so if you enjoyed the book, you can be sure that you got the best. Nevertheless when he misses some point it makes me cringe. At times he stutters while trying to pronounce words, this I forgive him. But when he uses wrong stress for words I do feel it. However, that's what I feel, it's not very important. What is detrimental to his work is when he sometimes misses the point with the meaning. Frankly, it's not much that he understands incorrectly, these are very fine points that he gets wrong, they are not important for the whole course but they exist. Personally, I believe that he understands Russian language as a few people do outside it's "native habitat" and actually better than many Russians. I would give this audio book more points if that was the only thing that I didn't like about it. However, I believe that it's OK for those people who have never read Russian literature, or have read just a couple of books and want to get acquainted with it. But I also believe that a good course in any literature should be composed in a different way. A course about some literature should require you to read those books it discusses, or even parts of books if those books are too big and there is not much time. It can, for example, require you to read only a couple of novels of an author to get the feeling, and then tell you more about the author and his or her other works. I would be happy with a book that does a preliminary explanation of the author's life and circumstances so as their work would be understood, and after you read some work of the author, it comments some more on the basis of what you have read. For me it is impossible to imagine a handbook on literature that doesn't make it necessary to read at least a part of what it discusses.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Adam Lund

    Excellent survey course by a knowledgeable and passionate professor.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Phil Greaney

    This course appears to set out to introduce Russian literature to the non-specialist and in that sense it does so admirably. The major writers are covered well (save one or two; I'll come to that), this course captures the range (what it calls its 'many colors') and Professor Irwin Weil is a congenial and knowledgeable lecturer. If you haven't read many, or any, of the texts, then you might feel you know them a little better after this course. Weil recounts some of the plots of short stories, or This course appears to set out to introduce Russian literature to the non-specialist and in that sense it does so admirably. The major writers are covered well (save one or two; I'll come to that), this course captures the range (what it calls its 'many colors') and Professor Irwin Weil is a congenial and knowledgeable lecturer. If you haven't read many, or any, of the texts, then you might feel you know them a little better after this course. Weil recounts some of the plots of short stories, or excerpts from longer novels and plays. There is a great deal on the lives of the authors, too. He omits Bulgakov's 'The Master and Margarita' which is nearly inexcusable; but I've forgiven him. He's far too short of the wonderful Chekhov too, although the 30 mins Weil devotes to him is a masterpiece in concision. The success of this course depends largely on what you want to get out of it. If it's the above, then you won't be disappointed. If you want a deeper set of readings, with greater sophistication and intensity - as we find in the neighboring course, 'Classics of American Literature' by the inestimable Arnold Weinstein, then you'll likely be disappointed: this won't add much, I don't think, to any deeper research. It's a starting point, an overview, not an end in itself. I found his readings in Russian language, especially in the earlier segments on Pushkin's 'Onegin', moving and revealing. He sings sometimes, too. This course might whet your appetite for a reading, and research, of the great Russian literary works, unsurpassed in many ways, in world literature. I used it as the basis of a several-month study of 'the Russians' and found it useful to hang my reading on, although I deviated from it continually. And for me, now - to move on - to Emerson, Thoreau and the transcendentalists...

  10. 5 out of 5

    Bryan

    Great survey of the Russian Greats!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Alan

    Combines deep analysis and lively presentation. The opposite of dry lectures. I have listened to certain lectures more than once.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Mati

    The highlights of the Russian literature packed in comprehensive courses.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Robin

    Professor Irwin Weil rocks this series of lectures on the classics of Russian literature. By the end of the lectures, he rightly refers to this overview as a "gallop" across the centuries. It covers three main periods: 10th-13th centuries, 19th and 20th centuries. No surprise, Dostoevsky and Tolstoy receive extensive coverage, as well as Pushkin and Turgenev. If you don't like any kind of spoilers you'll want to skip over the specific novels that are covered. He even does a little bit of singing Professor Irwin Weil rocks this series of lectures on the classics of Russian literature. By the end of the lectures, he rightly refers to this overview as a "gallop" across the centuries. It covers three main periods: 10th-13th centuries, 19th and 20th centuries. No surprise, Dostoevsky and Tolstoy receive extensive coverage, as well as Pushkin and Turgenev. If you don't like any kind of spoilers you'll want to skip over the specific novels that are covered. He even does a little bit of singing which isn't surprising as growing up he thought he was destined for the opera. Too bad he didn't cover any women authors -- more to explore elsewhere.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Hendrix

    I absolutely loved this course! Irwin Weil is a fantastic storyteller that can seamlessly weave the works and lives of the authors into Russian history. He reads (occasionally even sings!) excerpts beautifully in Russian. It really gives you a sense of the rhythm that cannot be translated into English. I want to listen again and take notes!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Mark Patton

    This is a challenge. I rate the class 4 stars, but there are elements that I would easily give 5 stars and elements that I would like to give 2. The general content and Prof. Weil's general performance is excellent, but I have a few serious issues with the course. First, spoilers, spoilers, spoilers. Weil moves beyond giving us a preview/overview along with some context, and enough setting, character, theme analysis, etc., to entice us into reading the works and plows through the plot like a sev This is a challenge. I rate the class 4 stars, but there are elements that I would easily give 5 stars and elements that I would like to give 2. The general content and Prof. Weil's general performance is excellent, but I have a few serious issues with the course. First, spoilers, spoilers, spoilers. Weil moves beyond giving us a preview/overview along with some context, and enough setting, character, theme analysis, etc., to entice us into reading the works and plows through the plot like a seventh grade book report. Somewhere over the past 50 years or so, I've read most of the works discussed, so this was more like a review session for me so I carried on, but I kept thinking, "What the ....? Why is he doing this?" A reviewer above suggests that it is because he, as many teachers do these days, assumes his listeners haven't read the assignment, but that isn't the case here. In both the introduction and conclusion, Weil makes it clear that he assumes his listeners haven't read the works and hopes that listening to the course will encourage them to do so. With this goal in mind, it makes no sense to retell the stories from beginning to end. Second, although I realize that the course is going to be dominated by the big dogs: Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and Pushkin, I still expected to hear/see at least a token female or two, but no. Where in god's name is Anna Akhmatova? She gets about a minute, maybe a minute and a half, during a lecture about someone else, and that's it over a 36 lecture series. I know that survey courses by their very nature are painful to put together because so much has to be left out, but this kind of oversight is shameful. Third, if you are someone who cannot avoid noting verbal tics, this series will drive you to the edge of insanity. If Weil were to write out his lectures rather than speak from notes, the series would be greatly improved as it is clear when, at rare moments, he does seem to be reading pre-written paragraphs this is not a problem. Ninety percent of the time, however, this is not the case as he speaks from notes or an outline. He uses phrases such as, "As a matter of fact," and "of course" sometimes a dozen or more times in a 30-minute lecture, often when they make no sense in the context. In addition, I don't know if this is the result of having to dumb down his vocabulary for his audience, but he uses "very" and "many" repeatedly. Nothing is ever "challenging," "problematic," "difficult"; instead, it is "very hard," "very, very hard," or "very, very, very hard." People are not only famous, they are "very famous," "very, very famous," or "very, very, very famous." The word "very" might well appear over 100 times in some 30-minute lectures and occasionally appears six times in a single sentence. Likewise with "many," even at times when the use makes little sense; for example, at one point, Weil is discussing the challenges of the lengthy Siberian winter and points out that the winter "lasts many, many months." What does that mean? Thirty months? Forty? Fifty? I was very, very, very tempted to pull the plug on the series many, many times, but the interesting anecdotes, the discussion of issues with translation, the historical and contextual background made it worthwhile overall despite the above shortcomings.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Huff

    Substantive and highly informative survey of Russian letters - Pushkin, Gogol, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Chekhov, etc. Quite inspiring to go out and read these great works. Some moments seemed to lag, but, on the whole, I admired this professor and learned a great deal from these lectures.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    This lecture series squeezes a lot into a little. I wish that it covered more of the early period and discussed the use of the earlier liturgical/Church Russian that was so prominent in later poetry, though. I supposed that might be difficult without digging too deeply into the religious aspects of the texts. Even so, I feel like I experienced far more moments of "Shakespeare translated into Russian" than any discussion of the Church Slavic, which certainly produces some letters and literature o This lecture series squeezes a lot into a little. I wish that it covered more of the early period and discussed the use of the earlier liturgical/Church Russian that was so prominent in later poetry, though. I supposed that might be difficult without digging too deeply into the religious aspects of the texts. Even so, I feel like I experienced far more moments of "Shakespeare translated into Russian" than any discussion of the Church Slavic, which certainly produces some letters and literature of its own. At least, this has inspired me to read another book I found that looks expressly at the middle ages of Russian literature --more of the folklore and Church Russian stuff. While cross-pollination was an important part of Russian literature, there are older Russian aspects that I would have liked to see explored more deeply. Of course, you have Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Gogol, and Turgenev present in the series with some depth and interconnection. Unfortunately, Solzhenitsyn is left until the very end (the last author discussed) and with very little discussion of his works. Solzhenitsyn is certainly as important in the 20th and 21st century canon as those other were for the 19th and 20th century canon. This lecture series also falls short of really looking at the exploitation of the propaganda literature. We see stories ferreted out of the USSR, but authors who followed the regime requirements are completely dismissed. While not a very fun part of Russian literature, they no are no less an important one --and indeed one that has carried to the present day. It's as if Weil picked a few famous people and overlooked about 100 years of literature to really focus on about 40 or 50 years of it. Maybe that's why the piece feels so painfully dated. There is a disconnect between then and now that I don't like --this was recorded while Solzhenitsyn was still alive for example. I won't end this on a bad note because for the most part I did like it. Perhaps the best parts were when he read passages in the original Russian and conveyed their meaning. He's not an opera star, but the singing of Черный ворон (Black Raven) was particularly moving. It makes you think and feel something special that is not entirely conveyed in the translation. It's that sort of connection to folk experience in literature that I've only experienced before on the first read of Wordsworth's "The Solitary Reaper" --there's something serene and idyllic about that feeling.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Rich Yavorsky

    When I first read--and was deeply moved by--Brothers K four months ago, I very much wanted to learn Russian and read the book in its native Cyrillic. Ohio native Irwin Weil actually followed through on that exact feeling on his first read of Brothers K, making a 40+ year career out of the effort (a career that spanned the Red Scare of the '50s thorugh current day). What Dr. Weil packs into this course is as about as dense as it gets for an audiobook. I read five major Russian titles before coming When I first read--and was deeply moved by--Brothers K four months ago, I very much wanted to learn Russian and read the book in its native Cyrillic. Ohio native Irwin Weil actually followed through on that exact feeling on his first read of Brothers K, making a 40+ year career out of the effort (a career that spanned the Red Scare of the '50s thorugh current day). What Dr. Weil packs into this course is as about as dense as it gets for an audiobook. I read five major Russian titles before coming across this course--an excellent prerequisite. Without those under my belt, this course would have felt like a fire hose of book summaries. But note: this course is as much about Russian history as it is about the literature. Where did the Cyrillic alphabet come from? What does 'tsar' actually mean? Who exactly are the Cossacks? What types of cultural dissonance did the Soviet Union create amongst its people? These questions and more are answered in this course, allowing the student to develop a greater appreciation for the written works. Certainly this review wouldn't be complete without a nod to the passion of Dr. Weil. Northwestern University has an absolute treasure in this man; I couldn't imagine a better person to record this Great Course for the English-speaking audience to appreciate for years to come. The spoken Russian, the signing, the companion PDF--his knowledge on Russian culture is wonderfully unique and seemingly limitless. This lecture has spoilers for most any book discussed--I intentionally skipped the lectures on Fathers and Sons, Anna K, and Dr Z because of my intent to read those titles in the near future. Once read, I'll come right back to this course to hear Dr. Weil's analysis and insight. Another knockout title by The Learning Company.

  19. 4 out of 5

    AttackGirl

    To imagine all those tales are mostly lives lived the names have been changed to protect the dignity of the people murdered, starved to death, beaten, shot, hung or you get the grim picture of death or those who survived to tell the story of those who have been exterminated in the gulags. Those who have read all he has mentioned can see the humor in my statement. Even today as I pass the semi truck who monthly comes to hand out free food at the social service breadline made me consider the impac To imagine all those tales are mostly lives lived the names have been changed to protect the dignity of the people murdered, starved to death, beaten, shot, hung or you get the grim picture of death or those who survived to tell the story of those who have been exterminated in the gulags. Those who have read all he has mentioned can see the humor in my statement. Even today as I pass the semi truck who monthly comes to hand out free food at the social service breadline made me consider the impact of a tiny piece of bread in the pocket oh so valuable a tale of the impact of “our daily bread” that it was pirated or in todays world what we call plagiarized. Even this course the bread makes it appearance in the tale of a starving woman, recognized as the wife of a success man who died when the warm bread hit her empty belly, the hallowed out shell of what used to be a woman, killing her with painful heat melting her frail intestines dropping her dead into the heavenly embrace of the warm bread. No one in this bread line was starving or in fear of warm bread hitting their years of inactivity a life of being on the system of having cards because stamps no longer provide enough ego or self esteem, the grotesquely fat stomachs and yet that bread turns to sugar and is like poison to the diabetic. Go into the light and you too will experience the fly swatter.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Zoltán

    A concise lecture about Russian literature, assembled into a series of chapters, spanning from the earliers period to around the 60s Sovietunion. Irwin Weil is very passionate about the subject and even has a bit of experience with the Soviet era. Prior reading of the books in the lecture is not required but adds value. (I've read most but not all of them and could compare how they felt different.) If you want to get a general overview of Russian literature, prepare for a more indepth course or ju A concise lecture about Russian literature, assembled into a series of chapters, spanning from the earliers period to around the 60s Sovietunion. Irwin Weil is very passionate about the subject and even has a bit of experience with the Soviet era. Prior reading of the books in the lecture is not required but adds value. (I've read most but not all of them and could compare how they felt different.) If you want to get a general overview of Russian literature, prepare for a more indepth course or just curious, it's worth doing this lecture. Things I liked: - Irwin Weil is passionate about the subject. - He summarises and quotes the books as he goes through them. - He did the effort of looking into how life was in the Sovietunion. Which is usually a dividing line. You either lived it, or have very sketchy and superficial ideas about it. He has the expected basic knowledge required to make sense of many things. Things I didn't like: - Irwin Weil is sometimes too passionate about the subject. :) In recurring but clear flashes he gets into an almost "fanboy" state singing odes about solutions/techniques that other authors do as well or are part of the base culture in Russia.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jimgosailing

    This is the overview of Russian literature that I needed. I’d been planning on reading Nabokov’s Lectures on Russian Literature but realized I had not read any Russian writers. It occurred to me (doh!) that being an English Major meant exactly that - works written in English (which included American authors, some Irish (Swift, Stoker, Joyce), some Scottish (Stevenson, Burns, Doyle)) and that I had read very little of works written in other languages (a quantity of Hesse in college; and more rece This is the overview of Russian literature that I needed. I’d been planning on reading Nabokov’s Lectures on Russian Literature but realized I had not read any Russian writers. It occurred to me (doh!) that being an English Major meant exactly that - works written in English (which included American authors, some Irish (Swift, Stoker, Joyce), some Scottish (Stevenson, Burns, Doyle)) and that I had read very little of works written in other languages (a quantity of Hesse in college; and more recently Dumas and Hugo). So I dove into Chekhov short stories and Dostoevsky, reading C&P and TBK, but felt I needed something more to decide what further works to read before taking on Nabokov (and I’ve read you need to have your own opinion of the Russian writers before delving into Nabokov- he apparently doesn’t like his fellow Russian writers). I’d listened to a lecture on YouTube on C&P delivered by Irwin Weil and was delighted to find this great course lecture by him. As he says, it certainly is a gallop through Russian literature; I like his delivery style; his little jokes and asides; I like that he shares the Russian meaning behind character names; he certainly has a passion for the material. The only demerit: too little time spent on Chekhov.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jquick99

    Highly, highly recommend. I really wasnt interested in listening to this, Thinking it would be over my head and too textbooky. Boy was I wrong. Dr. Weil Is Fantastic. For years, I’ve wanted to learn/read about Pushkin, Dostoevsky .... But didn’t think I would understand their works. I like that he gave a high level bio of various writers and along with that, described their major stories and explain the significance/themes. I have a mechanical/analytical mind, so these thoughts don’t come to me. Highly, highly recommend. I really wasnt interested in listening to this, Thinking it would be over my head and too textbooky. Boy was I wrong. Dr. Weil Is Fantastic. For years, I’ve wanted to learn/read about Pushkin, Dostoevsky .... But didn’t think I would understand their works. I like that he gave a high level bio of various writers and along with that, described their major stories and explain the significance/themes. I have a mechanical/analytical mind, so these thoughts don’t come to me. He explains such things as the description of the character’s name (in Russian), which of course is something I would never know, and even explains why it’s meaningful (i.e. what purple signifies). I could listen to him sing for hours. He was 80 when he recorded these...unbelievable.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Erik

    Professor Weil loves his subject of Russian Literature and is good at conveying his excitement to the student. I had read writings from Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Pasternak, Chekhov, and Solzhenitsyn going into this course. Dr. Weil's discussion of the books made me want to re-read some of the old classics like War and Peace and The Brothers Karamazov. I have not read any Pushkin, Gogol, Turgenev, Gorky, Sholokhov, or Zoshchenko, but plan to try some of them after hearing about their contributions. T Professor Weil loves his subject of Russian Literature and is good at conveying his excitement to the student. I had read writings from Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Pasternak, Chekhov, and Solzhenitsyn going into this course. Dr. Weil's discussion of the books made me want to re-read some of the old classics like War and Peace and The Brothers Karamazov. I have not read any Pushkin, Gogol, Turgenev, Gorky, Sholokhov, or Zoshchenko, but plan to try some of them after hearing about their contributions. The lectures in which specific works are summarized and discussed would be very good study helps for reading those books. He has lectures on War and Peace, Crime and Punishment, The Brothers Karamazov, Anna Karenina, Dr. Zhivago, and A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. There are a few others, but these are, I believe, the best known works that are discussed in detail.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Hank Pharis

    (NOTE: I'm stingy with stars. For me 2 stars means a good book or a B. 3 stars means a very good book or a B+. 4 stars means an outstanding book or an A {only about 5% of the books I read merit 4 stars}. 5 stars means an all time favorite or an A+ {Only one of 400 or 500 books rates this!).The great news is that I can listen to a book a day at work. The bad news is that I can’t keep up with decent reviews. So I’m going to give up for now and just rate them. I hope to come back to some of the mos (NOTE: I'm stingy with stars. For me 2 stars means a good book or a B. 3 stars means a very good book or a B+. 4 stars means an outstanding book or an A {only about 5% of the books I read merit 4 stars}. 5 stars means an all time favorite or an A+ {Only one of 400 or 500 books rates this!).The great news is that I can listen to a book a day at work. The bad news is that I can’t keep up with decent reviews. So I’m going to give up for now and just rate them. I hope to come back to some of the most significant things I listen to and read them and then post a review.There are a lot of interesting things here. flag Like  · see review Jun 24, 2017 Gordon rated it really liked it 3.5 stars. 36 enthusiastic and interesting lectures from Pushkin to Solzhenitsyn. A must for anyone trying to understand the basics of classic Russian literature. This inspired me to read more works. That said, I found I had to take each analysis with a grain of salt. flag Like  · see review Dec 19, 2020 Matt rated it liked it Shelves: russian Weil does an excellent job of intertwining Russian history and literature into a flowing narrative. Many of these lectures deserve four stars, but the Soviet writers (the last third of the course) were of less interest to me. flag Like  · see review Aug 25, 2018 Shawn rated it it was amazing An oak is a tree. A rose is a flower. A deer is an animal. A sparrow is a bird. Russia is our fatherland. Death is inevitable. — P. Smirnovski, A Textbook of Russian Grammar flag Like  · see review Jun 18, 2019 Maia M rated it it was amazing Fascinating exploration of Russian literature. Professor Weil is a great storyteller and makes the course very interesting. I am inspired to read some of the novels for further exploration. flag Like  · see review Oct 04, 2019 April Sanders rated it really liked it All of the Great Courses are excellent. For anyone interested in Russian literature this course is fantastic. flag Like  · see review Jan 28, 2017 Scott Diamond rated it liked it Shelves: nf-general Unfortunately too much of the course was taken up by plot reviews of novels. flag Like  · see review View 1 comment « previous 1 2 next »

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