For every important moment and stage in your life, there is a Great Book that can offer you invaluable lessons and place your unique experiences in a larger perspective.
Some of history's greatest authors have written about timeless themes and trying points in our lives. If you're unlucky in love, you can seek sympathy in Goethe's epistolary novel, The Sufferings of Young Werther, and its title character's frustrations with unrequited love. If you're looking to explore new environments, you can follow along with Lewis and Clark in their detailed journals as they journey through the Louisiana Territory. And if you're trying to lead a noble and hard-working life, you can learn from Albert Schweitzer, whose autobiography Out of My Life and Thought details his work providing medical care in a remote African village.
In Life Lessons from the Great Books, Professor J. Rufus Fears of the University of Oklahoma—a marvelous storyteller with deep historical knowledge—shows you how some of Western civilization's greatest literary masterpieces can speak to you and provide guidance in your life across the gulf of time and culture. Rich in historical perspective and infused with layers of meaning, these 36 lectures reveal the wealth of insight these enduring works can provide in your life. You'll come to see that each of these works—whether written 2,000, 200, or 20 years ago—remain relevant to all of us.
What Makes a Book "Great"?
According to Professor Fears, four characteristics define a Great Book:
- Its focus on great themes such as love, courage, and patriotism
- Its composition in a noble language
- Its ability to speak to readers across the ages
- Its ability to speak to readers not as groups, but as individuals
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Course Lecture Titles
1. Seneca—"On Providence"
2. The Gospel of John
3. Boethius, Martin Luther King—Conscience
4. Dostoevsky—The Brothers Karamazov
5. Elie Wiesel—Night
6. Schweitzer—Out of My Life and Thought
7. Goethe—The Sufferings of Young Werther
10. Plato—Epistle VII
11. Cicero—"On Old Age"
12. Isaac Bashevis Singer—The Penitent
15. Von Strasburg—Tristan and Isolde
16. Shakespeare—Antony and Cleopatra
18. Aldous Huxley—Brave New World
21. The Song of Roland—Chivalric Adventure
22. Nibelungenlied—Chivalric Romance
23. Lewis and Clark—Journals
24. T. E. Lawrence—Seven Pillars of Wisdom
26. Menander—The Grouch
27. Machiavelli—La Mandragola
28. Erasmus—In Praise of Folly
29. Thomas More—Utopia
30. George Orwell—Animal Farm
31. Josephus—History of the Jewish War
32. Joseph Addison—Cato
33. George Washington—Farewell Address
34. Abraham Lincoln, George Patton—War
35. Theodore Roosevelt—An Autobiography
36. The Wisdom of Great Books