Hot Best Seller

Rings, Swords, and Monsters: Exploring Fantasy Literature

Availability: Ready to download

Great college course on the history of fantasy literature from Beowolf to Harry Potter with lots of emphasis on Tolkien. I hate to listen to the last lecture because I don't want it to end. Guess I could just relisten. Drout is a philologist and develops the history through his study of words and folklore. After listening I have a geater appreciation than ever for the depth Great college course on the history of fantasy literature from Beowolf to Harry Potter with lots of emphasis on Tolkien. I hate to listen to the last lecture because I don't want it to end. Guess I could just relisten. Drout is a philologist and develops the history through his study of words and folklore. After listening I have a geater appreciation than ever for the depth of Tolkiens Middle Earth and for Ursula LeGuin land. I will go back and read Beowulf again. He also looks at King Arthur legends, CS Lewis, and Donaldson. Good stuff!


Compare

Great college course on the history of fantasy literature from Beowolf to Harry Potter with lots of emphasis on Tolkien. I hate to listen to the last lecture because I don't want it to end. Guess I could just relisten. Drout is a philologist and develops the history through his study of words and folklore. After listening I have a geater appreciation than ever for the depth Great college course on the history of fantasy literature from Beowolf to Harry Potter with lots of emphasis on Tolkien. I hate to listen to the last lecture because I don't want it to end. Guess I could just relisten. Drout is a philologist and develops the history through his study of words and folklore. After listening I have a geater appreciation than ever for the depth of Tolkiens Middle Earth and for Ursula LeGuin land. I will go back and read Beowulf again. He also looks at King Arthur legends, CS Lewis, and Donaldson. Good stuff!

30 review for Rings, Swords, and Monsters: Exploring Fantasy Literature

  1. 4 out of 5

    David Tate

    I have just finished listening to the lecture series Rings, Swords, and Monsters: Exploring Fantasy Literature. This is a lecture series produced by The Modern Scholar (Recorded Books), with lectures by Professor Michael D. C. Drout. It's... not good. Professor Drout is the William and Elsie Prentice Professor of English at Wheaton College. I'd be willing to bet that he is in his late 40s, and fell in love with Tolkien (and C. S. Lewis's Narnia books) as a child. He was inspired by those authors t I have just finished listening to the lecture series Rings, Swords, and Monsters: Exploring Fantasy Literature. This is a lecture series produced by The Modern Scholar (Recorded Books), with lectures by Professor Michael D. C. Drout. It's... not good. Professor Drout is the William and Elsie Prentice Professor of English at Wheaton College. I'd be willing to bet that he is in his late 40s, and fell in love with Tolkien (and C. S. Lewis's Narnia books) as a child. He was inspired by those authors to pursue studies in mediaeval literature, and in the meantime read some of the more popular fantasy of the day during his teens and twenties. That would seem to be the sum of his qualifications to write on fantasy. He knows his Tolkien, but not much else. In fact, he seems to feel that fantasy began with Tolkien, for all intents and purposes. Like many commenters on fantasy, he cannot keep straight in his mind the distinction between fantasy the literary genre, fantasy the marketing category, and fantasy as a set of tropes. It's as if someone had read all of Heinlein's juvenile novels, Dune, and The Stainless Steel Rat, and on that basis felt competent to pontificate on what science fiction is, and how it differs from fantasy, and why the mainstream critics don't like it. Here's the list of authors that Professor Drout comments on at any length in his lectures: J. R. R. Tolkien (The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion, life and languages, etc. etc.) C. S. Lewis (Narnia only) Ursula K. Leguin (Earthsea and Always Coming Home only; he seems to think that The Lathe of Heaven is science fiction, and thus off limits.) Stephen R. Donaldson (Thomas Covenant) (!) Terry Brooks (!!!) Robert Holdstock (Mythago Wood, Lavondyss) Susan Cooper (The Dark is Rising series) T. H. White (The Once and Future King) Mary Stewart (The Crystal Cave et al.) Marion Zimmer Bradley (The Mists of Avalon et al.) Lloyd Alexander (Chronicles of Prydain, briefly and without any mention of the Mabinogion) Philip Pullman (His Dark Materials) J. K. Rowling (Harry Potter) Jorge Luis Borges Gabriel Garcia-Marquez Salman Rushdie That's it. Not a single word to indicate that he's ever heard of Lord Dunsany E. R. Eddison Hope Mirrlees Fritz Leiber C. L. Moore Avram Davidson James Branch Cabell Ernest Bramagh R. A. Lafferty Theodore Sturgeon Jack Vance Roger Zelazny R. A. MacAvoy Richard Adams Steven Brust Glen Cook Tim Powers Patricia McKillip Lois McMaster Bujold ... Magical Realism is discussed only to conclude that it isn't actually fantasy but is "just another form of modernism", because it doesn't share the fantasy agenda of escape. Terry Pratchett is dismissed as not really fantasy because fantasy is serious, not deliberately humorous. Everyone before Tolkien is dismissed as not really fantasy -- at best an influence on Tolkien (e.g. George MacDonald). The only other author discussed at length who is actually a good writer is Ursula Leguin. Talking about Brooks, Donaldson, and Rowling would make sense if this were a series of lectures about the marketing phenomenon (as opposed to the literature) of fantasy, but that's pretty clearly not the intent here. I suspect he just isn't familiar with any other quality fantasy. This is an astonishingly ill-informed discussion of fantasy, presented as authoritative. I suspect that the professor would be a great guy to have a few beers with, but is not anything like an expert on fantasy literature, outside of his Tolkien specialty. One wonders if he wanted to do a course on just Tolkien, and was forced by Recorded Books to expand to other authors.

  2. 5 out of 5

    A

    I usually love the Modern Scholar franchise (for example, the Medieval Literature and Grail series), but I was disappointed in these lectures. I expected more factual information and analysis, and this was more like a summary of each fantasy novel. Drout played fast and loose with his research which made for some sloppy scholarship. For example, he argued that despite Ursula LeGuin's Taoist leanings, she evoked Chiristian themes. His reasoning is that, in her Earthsea trilogy, simply saying somet I usually love the Modern Scholar franchise (for example, the Medieval Literature and Grail series), but I was disappointed in these lectures. I expected more factual information and analysis, and this was more like a summary of each fantasy novel. Drout played fast and loose with his research which made for some sloppy scholarship. For example, he argued that despite Ursula LeGuin's Taoist leanings, she evoked Chiristian themes. His reasoning is that, in her Earthsea trilogy, simply saying something in the old speech makes it happen, much like the Catholic eucharist. This is bad reasoning. LeGuin is the daughter of an anthropologist, and aware of a range of cultures. The Tombs of Atuan appears to draw on ancient Egyptian religion, and in ancient Egypt simply writing or reading a written word made it happen. This idea is much older than Chiristianity, and a little research on Drout's part would have revealed that. Although Drout's style flows smoothly and is accessible, his lectures were not well reasearched. I learned very little from this series. The one positive note: I gained one book to add to my reading list.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Benjamin Thomas

    I admit to being a little skeptical when I began listening to this series of lectures. After all, the lecturer, Michael D.C. Drout, is a Professor of English at Wheaton College. We all know how professors can be and since the subject was fantasy literature, I was worried big time that a professor, any professor, would look down his/her nose from his/her ivory tower and sneer at my beloved fantasy genre. I had braced myself to be bombarded by snobbery and to be soundly criticized for my reading t I admit to being a little skeptical when I began listening to this series of lectures. After all, the lecturer, Michael D.C. Drout, is a Professor of English at Wheaton College. We all know how professors can be and since the subject was fantasy literature, I was worried big time that a professor, any professor, would look down his/her nose from his/her ivory tower and sneer at my beloved fantasy genre. I had braced myself to be bombarded by snobbery and to be soundly criticized for my reading tastes. At best, I expected the works of Tolkien to be held high but everything else to be trashed. Thankfully, my fears were unfounded and in fact, Professor Drout goes out of his way and does an excellent job of giving great credit to fantasy as literature. One walks away from the final lecture with a sense of pride that we fantasy readers are perhaps a little more worldly and enlightened than those who choose not to experience it. The course is definitely Tolkien-centric, as it should be for JRR Tolkien’s influence on the genre is so extraordinary that one can’t avoid it. I really enjoyed the deep dive he takes into The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion, and several lesser known Tolkien works, not to mention the amazing biography of the man himself. Professor Drout is definitely a Tolkien fan, admitting to having read The Lord of the Rings over 40 times. (He also admits with some amusement that that can be a little scary in and of itself). His thorough and vast knowledge shines through brilliantly. But even before he gets to Tolkien, Professor Drout provides a fascinating history of the origins of the form, discussing medieval literature like Beowulf and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Of particular interest is the evolution of the stories from Old English/Anglo Saxon through Middle English. This was intriguing when he began to discuss Tolkien and his incredible development of the languages and culture of Middle Earth. Other topics/lectures focused on Terry Brooks’ Shannara books, Stephen R Donaldson’s Thomas Covenant books, Ursula K Le Guin’s EarthSea books, Mary Stewart’s Merlin series, and Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Mists of Avalon, and others. He notes the influence of Tolkien on these works, both in terms of near ripoffs in the case of Brooks or how some authors have managed to break away from the long shadow of Tolkien (Le Guin). He also tackles subjects such as children’s fantasy literature, Arthurian literature, and fantasy realism. I will say that the course is a little dated at this point, having been recorded in 2006. This is before Harry Potter’s 7th book had been published and so Professor Drout mentions the series’ impact but withholds analysis since so much would depend on that final book. He also mentions a sort of new generation of great fantasy author talent coming along but does not mention them by name. So nothing specific about George RR Martin, Patrick Rothfuss, Brandon Sanderson, Mark Lawrence, Peter Brett, Brent Weeks, Joe Abercrombie or a whole host of authors that have made huge impacts over the last 10 years. I thoroughly enjoyed this series of lectures and will be looking for his similar series on science fiction. It should be equally interesting.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Ionson

    A worthwhile book for lovers of Fantasy, and especially for authors in the genre.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Shiloah

    Professor Drout blows me away with his in-depth knowledge of Tolkien and fantasy. This is my second audio by him and I loved them. I learned so much. I highly recommend them to anyone who is even slightly interested in Tolkien and the fantasy genre.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jerzy

    I wish Drout had spent less time on Tolkien and more time getting deeper into the rest of the genre; but I've enjoyed the course overall. I might also check out his From Here To Infinity: An Exploration of Science Fiction Literature, especially since it doesn't seem to focus on one author like this course did. Some of the many interesting points that he elaborates further: * it is tough to define fantasy (vs. children's lit, or sci fi, or magical realism) and how it differs from high-brow modern l I wish Drout had spent less time on Tolkien and more time getting deeper into the rest of the genre; but I've enjoyed the course overall. I might also check out his From Here To Infinity: An Exploration of Science Fiction Literature, especially since it doesn't seem to focus on one author like this course did. Some of the many interesting points that he elaborates further: * it is tough to define fantasy (vs. children's lit, or sci fi, or magical realism) and how it differs from high-brow modern literature * fantasy grew partly out of the oral tradition and uses some of its techniques, mashed up with more modern literary techniques * today's fantasy genre grew out of how Victorian England developed market segmentation for novels * Arthurian literature is related, but still distinct enough from much of modern fantasy, that it gets its own lecture * Tolkien was first and foremost a language nerd (thanks to his mom): he wrote The Lord of the Rings etc. largely so that he could have characters speak the Elvish languages he invented and documented rigorously (unlike his imitators, who might make up a few imagined words for a story's sake, after the fact) * Tolkien's hobbits help to "mediate" between the modern middle-class reader's world and the grimy world of ancient-Norse-saga-like heroes and dwarves; this makes modern fantasy very distinct from the original sagas themselves * Apparently The Sword of Shannara was the first Tolkien imitation that sold well enough to get the modern fantasy genre market rolling * Ursula K. Le Guin is a badass :) Much like Tolkien is a linguistics nerd, she's an anthropology nerd, and treats her invented cultures as seriously as he his invented languages. * Susan Cooper was a student of Professor Tolkien's! I hadn't known about this link though I loved her The Dark is Rising books as a kid * Magical realism shares many characteristics with fantasy, but it treats the fantastical elements with detachment or irony instead of with awe

  7. 5 out of 5

    Robert Delikat

    I think there are about 2000 books in the Modern Scholar Series. Michael DC Drout has about 10 books in the series and I have read / listened to about half of his and a dozen more by other authors. These are generally the series of lectures from a course on a particular subject constructed and delivered by the lecturer who is an eminent authority on the subject being considered. They usually total about 8 hours of listening time. Michael D.C. Drout is the William and Elsie Prentice Professor of E I think there are about 2000 books in the Modern Scholar Series. Michael DC Drout has about 10 books in the series and I have read / listened to about half of his and a dozen more by other authors. These are generally the series of lectures from a course on a particular subject constructed and delivered by the lecturer who is an eminent authority on the subject being considered. They usually total about 8 hours of listening time. Michael D.C. Drout is the William and Elsie Prentice Professor of English at Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts, where he teaches courses in Old and Middle English, medieval literature, Chaucer, fantasy, and science fiction. ‘sounds like the perfect person to be giving lectures on fantasy literature and he is. Because of the nature of the productions, the author is the narrator and that does not always work. It is often said that authors should not read their own books. I have not found that to be the case in any of Professor Drout’s books. He’s not only known for his writing, he’s known for his lecturing and here, it could not be better. I was surprised but not disappointed that this selection was either about Tolkien or other fantasy literature with respect to Tolkien. I was surprised because the author has a whole other offering just on Tolkien. He considers many of not most of the other major players in the genre who came both before and after JRRT within the construct of compare and contrast. Ever wonder why SiFi is often lumped in with fantasy? Drout explains it all in a deeper than cursory look at the other variations in the genre. Like every other offering by Drout, I could not recommend this selection more highly. His other stuff on English, any and all of it, is outstanding but this is the author’s specialty.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kirsten

    What Professor Drout does well is to sum up the things that fantasy can do that "mainstream" fiction cannot or does not. However, this lecture did not feel nearly as academically rigorous or well-thought-out as other lectures he's done in this series. I felt I was listening to a discussion of a literary genre by a very intelligent fan of the genre, but not an academic lecture. Rather than giving a more general view of movements or themes in fantasy literature, he devotes most of the lectures to What Professor Drout does well is to sum up the things that fantasy can do that "mainstream" fiction cannot or does not. However, this lecture did not feel nearly as academically rigorous or well-thought-out as other lectures he's done in this series. I felt I was listening to a discussion of a literary genre by a very intelligent fan of the genre, but not an academic lecture. Rather than giving a more general view of movements or themes in fantasy literature, he devotes most of the lectures to looking at specific works, but his time was limited so these never felt like in-depth analyses so much as plot summaries. I did appreciate hearing about a few new titles and authors, though, that I will definitely check out. My main caveat would be that you should not listen to this book if you are not particularly interested in J.R.R. Tolkien, as Drout devotes no less than half of the lectures almost entirely to his works. I myself am always interested in learning more about Tolkien, but I can imagine fans of more modern fantasy will find this stretch of the book rather tedious. However, as with the other works, he barely scratches the surface of what you can get out of Lord of the Rings and his other works. If you are interested in listening to a closer analysis of the themes and ideas in Tolkien, I highly recommend Professor Corey Olsen's "Tolkien Professor" podcasts. All in all, I am a big fan of Professor Drout's work, but this is not my favourite.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Yannis

    Well, I love articles, documentaries and of course whole books about fantastic literature(films and comics too) so I really liked this one too. Too bad I couldn't get a real dead tree copy but audiobook was good enough. Drout speaks quite nicely and it flows like you're watching a cool documentary. I guess it's just as good for beginners in fantasy as it is for those that have read a lot. I have read quite a few of the works he refers too but even the ones I haven't he manages to describe his po Well, I love articles, documentaries and of course whole books about fantastic literature(films and comics too) so I really liked this one too. Too bad I couldn't get a real dead tree copy but audiobook was good enough. Drout speaks quite nicely and it flows like you're watching a cool documentary. I guess it's just as good for beginners in fantasy as it is for those that have read a lot. I have read quite a few of the works he refers too but even the ones I haven't he manages to describe his points quite nicely, although I guess there are several spoilers so, if you hate them you might want to postpone listening to this audiobook after you've read every fantasy classic he mentions. And they are quite a lot although most of the time he speaks about Tolkien's work, with a little bit of Earthsea. It surprised me how his #3 after Tolkien and LeGuin is Robert Holdstock. I guess I'll have to go read him, at least Mythago Wood, that is. He is a bit harsh towards Harry Potter but I was saying pretty much the same thing back then(before it was finished). Also, he fails to realise the new trend in fantasy, the kind George Martin does. Of course this was made in 2006, before HBO's hit tv show but still the books were out there and it wasn't just Martin.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Violinknitter

    Way too much summarizing of Tolkien, not enough time spent on the fantasy that comes after Tolkien. Abysmal understanding of children's fantasy between Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Chronicles and J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. (Really! 1980-1995 was not a desert for children's fantasy!) Also, I found his discussion about the place of "literary" novels & fantasy writing to be... simplistic at best. Don't try to tell me that there aren't fantasy writers who aren't as excellent at the sentence l Way too much summarizing of Tolkien, not enough time spent on the fantasy that comes after Tolkien. Abysmal understanding of children's fantasy between Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Chronicles and J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. (Really! 1980-1995 was not a desert for children's fantasy!) Also, I found his discussion about the place of "literary" novels & fantasy writing to be... simplistic at best. Don't try to tell me that there aren't fantasy writers who aren't as excellent at the sentence level as "literary" authors. I'll just know you haven't read Patricia McKillip or Robin McKinley. (Both of whom have some absolutely stunning prose in their books.) Maybe Drout was trying to oversimplify everything and was knowingly telling "undergraduate lies," because he couldn't fit more into the allotted time. But I was sorely disappointed in this lecture series. I expected it to at least rise to the level of his sci-fi lecture series, and it did NOT.

  11. 5 out of 5

    April

    Well, that was delightful and informative! I wish it was updated since it was written in 2006, but I suggest it if you are looking for a nonfiction book, and you are a fan of fantasy books and Tolkien.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

    Excellent lecture series. Professor Drout is an excellent speaker, and his love of the subject matter generally, and J.R.R. Tolkien in particular, is infectious. I do not consider myself a fan of must fantasy fiction (save for Harry Potter, the Artemis Fowl series, Ken Schole's Lamentation, and a few others). However, Professor Drout's extensive knowledge of the history and development of the genre is fascinating, and after listening I have attempted to seek out some of the titles or authors he Excellent lecture series. Professor Drout is an excellent speaker, and his love of the subject matter generally, and J.R.R. Tolkien in particular, is infectious. I do not consider myself a fan of must fantasy fiction (save for Harry Potter, the Artemis Fowl series, Ken Schole's Lamentation, and a few others). However, Professor Drout's extensive knowledge of the history and development of the genre is fascinating, and after listening I have attempted to seek out some of the titles or authors he references that sounded interesting to me. I would definitely recommend this lecture series to anyone with an interest in the history of genre fiction generally or fantasy fiction specifically. Oh, and any fan's of Tolkien who maybe haven't crossed over to hard-core fandom: I would think you would be interested to hear Prof. Drout's discussion of his life, processes, influences, and legacy, whether you agree with his conclusions or not.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    After listening and loving The Hobbit I picked up the Modern Scholar Series Rings, Swords and Monsters which is a series of lectures on fantasy literature by Michael Drout, a professor at Wheaton College. My original plan was just to listen to the one or 2 lectures about The Hobbit. I found that I could not put this down. If you are a fan of fantasy fiction, he covers many of the great authors of the genre - Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Ursula LeGuin, Terry Brooks, and more. His lectures were interspe After listening and loving The Hobbit I picked up the Modern Scholar Series Rings, Swords and Monsters which is a series of lectures on fantasy literature by Michael Drout, a professor at Wheaton College. My original plan was just to listen to the one or 2 lectures about The Hobbit. I found that I could not put this down. If you are a fan of fantasy fiction, he covers many of the great authors of the genre - Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Ursula LeGuin, Terry Brooks, and more. His lectures were interspersed with background history, wonderful excerpts that he reads as well as the best audio narrator, and some great analysis. It was enjoyable and I learned so much. I would highly recommend this to fantasy fans.

  14. 5 out of 5

    John

    The title of this course is a little misleading. Drout is a serious scholar of J. R. R. Tolkien, and this 14-lecture course on Fantasy literature is slanted towards predecessors of Tolkien, Tolkien's works (7 lectures), and a few followers/imitators of Tolkien. However, if you like Tolkien, it's great stuff. If you don't, there are a few lectures on children's fantasy, Arthurian fantasy, and magic realism. There's a good review of Ursula K. LeGuin. Don't expect to learn about the popular horror The title of this course is a little misleading. Drout is a serious scholar of J. R. R. Tolkien, and this 14-lecture course on Fantasy literature is slanted towards predecessors of Tolkien, Tolkien's works (7 lectures), and a few followers/imitators of Tolkien. However, if you like Tolkien, it's great stuff. If you don't, there are a few lectures on children's fantasy, Arthurian fantasy, and magic realism. There's a good review of Ursula K. LeGuin. Don't expect to learn about the popular horror branch of fantasy literature though--that is not in the scope of this course. Drout is, as always, knowledgeable and fun to listen to.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Erik

    Maybe this was not the best course, I am not sure with so little to base it on, but it was very interesting to hear fantasy treated in a truly academic fashion, with - a survey of major, defining works; - a discussion of the genre's origins and its placement in time; - a comparison of the major authors amongst themselves and of the genre with others; - an identification of the major themes; and - a discussion of what fantasy does well and to what it can still aspire.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Travis

    Although I listened to and enjoyed From Here To Infinity: An Exploration of Science Fiction Literature by this same professor, I was initially uninterested in this lecture series because the listing on the back revealed half of it was devoted to Tolkien, and I'd thought it should be like the other one and provide a broad overview of the genre. But I ended up picking it up because I had a lot of driving to do and few other options and found it to be really enjoyable. In the prior lecture series I Although I listened to and enjoyed From Here To Infinity: An Exploration of Science Fiction Literature by this same professor, I was initially uninterested in this lecture series because the listing on the back revealed half of it was devoted to Tolkien, and I'd thought it should be like the other one and provide a broad overview of the genre. But I ended up picking it up because I had a lot of driving to do and few other options and found it to be really enjoyable. In the prior lecture series I had listened to, I was introduced to new works, but often the summary of their important points felt so thorough that I was left with little desire to read the actual books. In this one, I had read the majority of the texts covered and could enjoy the lectures for their analysis and insights they offered and was left with a lingering desire to perhaps revisit some of the books (though that won't happen for awhile, if at all). It would be interesting to have an updated lecture series though, since this one is already a decade old and it feels like there is even more out there that would be worth consideration. A Song of Ice and Fire springs to mind, as does The Wheel of Time. Though actually I find it a bit surprising that they weren't really mentioned at all. I enjoyed the analysis of Tolkien's works, but still wish that more attention had been given to other authors, especially since the focus on Tolkien works to maintain his "long shadow" over the genre. But I also really enjoyed the analysis of what the purpose and characteristics of fantasy as a genre are, and the contrast provided with modern literature. It helped clarify some of my own thoughts on the matter.

  17. 5 out of 5

    John Davis

    A set of lectures from professor Drout exploring the origins of modern fantasy literature. These lectures explore the development of nineteenth century 'fairy' stories for younger readers emphasizing moral expectations and consequences to the evolution of the fantasy genre which address more vividly the complex questions of life, death, and the afterlife. Special emphasis is on Tolkien's stories set in Middle Earth and the impact on subsequent writers both imitative and reactionary. Fantasy writ A set of lectures from professor Drout exploring the origins of modern fantasy literature. These lectures explore the development of nineteenth century 'fairy' stories for younger readers emphasizing moral expectations and consequences to the evolution of the fantasy genre which address more vividly the complex questions of life, death, and the afterlife. Special emphasis is on Tolkien's stories set in Middle Earth and the impact on subsequent writers both imitative and reactionary. Fantasy writers have had large shoes to fill after 'The Hobbit' and 'The Lord of the Rings'. Tolkien's broad knowledge of the languages and stories of the north European tradition coupled with his deeply held Catholic Faith set a philosophical undercurrent in his writing that made for the first true modern epic. Since then he has been imitated or unfortunately reacted against by later authors. While some of these writers have merely sought to get out from under the long shadow of Tolkien to imagine their own stories others have rejected any of the hope and heroic Christian values inherent in Tolkien for stories fatalistic and pessimistic.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Joseph Spuckler

    Fantasy in modern times is held on the fringe much like romance novels and cheap novels. They have a strong following but many just consider them as escapism. Drout through his lectures shows the history and influence of fantasy writing from the Victorian to the present and magical realism. I never read Tolkien but the amount of time spent on the author makes me want to pick up The Hobbit and give it a try for the 57th time. I never got past the party meeting Gollum in the cave. Ursula K. Le Gui Fantasy in modern times is held on the fringe much like romance novels and cheap novels. They have a strong following but many just consider them as escapism. Drout through his lectures shows the history and influence of fantasy writing from the Victorian to the present and magical realism. I never read Tolkien but the amount of time spent on the author makes me want to pick up The Hobbit and give it a try for the 57th time. I never got past the party meeting Gollum in the cave. Ursula K. Le Guin, Terry Brooks, Stephen R. Donaldson, among others are covered in the course. A few I know were missed but the main players were included. There is an interesting lecture the evolution of the Arthurian legend and a wrap up about the difference between fantasy and magical realism which includes the Harry Potter series and others. The Modern Scholar is apparently no longer an active. Extra material is no longer available as their web page is no longer valid.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy

    A superb series of lectures on the fantasy genre arguing how it is literature in its own right. The professor starts with the genres origins and explores its evolution through time citing various masterpieces, but especially Tolkien (dude really loves his Tolkien). I found it engaging and informative and extremely interest by. If it weren’t for several lectures focused mainly on analyzing Lord of the Rings in the middle, which I found redundant, I would have rated this five stars. I will be look A superb series of lectures on the fantasy genre arguing how it is literature in its own right. The professor starts with the genres origins and explores its evolution through time citing various masterpieces, but especially Tolkien (dude really loves his Tolkien). I found it engaging and informative and extremely interest by. If it weren’t for several lectures focused mainly on analyzing Lord of the Rings in the middle, which I found redundant, I would have rated this five stars. I will be looking I to more literary lectures like this in the future. There was even a website with a comprehension quiz online if you’re that level of nerd.

  20. 5 out of 5

    DavidO

    spends waaaaay too much time summarizing plots and discussing very old books. You'd think fantasy was dinosaur based on these materials. Few if any current authors are discussed. Really only J.K. Rowling and he had little to say about that. His main problem is he spends payout half of the 7 CDs talking about [worshipping?] J.R.R. Tolkien, mostly to summaries the plot. I'm sure there are dozens of people here on Goodrea who could do a much better summary and discussion of the fantasy genre.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Robert Hopkins

    This was a nice series of lectures that didn’t overstay their welcome. The professor is very excited about the topic which rubs off on the student. There is heavy emphasis on Tolkien, Le Guin, and Holdstock although he does fly through the history of fantasy stopping along the way to cover antihero stuff along with magical realist. I enjoyed it and would gladly listen again one day.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    I get irritated when people interrupt my listening experience with Drout. He so clearly loves the material, and so effectively builds to his point, that I want to stay lost in the moment enjoying his insights.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Alethea Hammer

    This was so good I had to listen to parts of it twice. I especially enjoyed the lecture about Arthuria, and the one about Magical Realism. The lectures left me wanting to read more Ursala La Guin and get into Jorge Luis Borges.

  24. 5 out of 5

    John Spencer

    A disappointing and mawkish exploration of Fantasy Literature that completely ignores many if not all, of the most vital contributions to the genre while lending far too much credence and import to others i.e. William Morris vis-à-vis Marion Zimmer Bradley.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lori S.

    A little heavy on Tolkien, but good overview otherwise.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kev

    3.5 stars. Interesting lectures, but too much focus on Tolkien.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Evan Hays

    Well, in some ways it is tough for me to give this only 3 stars, because he is one of the best living Tolkien scholars, and his love of Tolkien shines through. I am totally with him there. But I would say, if it is possible, this series was too short and focused overly much on Tolkien. Now, in it's defense, this came out before the Harry Potter series was finished, and many other popular fantasies have been coming out recently such as Game of Thrones which I haven't even read, so it seems like h Well, in some ways it is tough for me to give this only 3 stars, because he is one of the best living Tolkien scholars, and his love of Tolkien shines through. I am totally with him there. But I would say, if it is possible, this series was too short and focused overly much on Tolkien. Now, in it's defense, this came out before the Harry Potter series was finished, and many other popular fantasies have been coming out recently such as Game of Thrones which I haven't even read, so it seems like he left stuff out, but he really didn't because works just hadn't been published yet. I would also like to hear what he thinks of Brandon Sanderson. This series definitely helped me add several books to my reading list, which is great. I also learned things about Tolkien I never knew before. His command of languages is also quite impressive. I have followed his blog for years, and wish he would put out more. I also wish, that as a scholar, he would have been working on his own fantasy series secretly for years, and it would come out and be awesome. Because if there is one thing you get from this series, it is that Tolkien and LeGuin are superior because they are scholars who wrote fantasy. The erudition matters. Anyway, I plan to read and listen to more of Drout, and I really appreciate his work. The setup of this lecture series/book could have been better, and since I don't really know how much of a choice he had in this, it could be that it wasn't even his fault. He just left out too many people, such as Lord Dunsany, and other 20th century authors besides Tolkien such as Lewis and Alexander weren't given enough time or credit. He also never even mentioned the issue of translation--can the magical realists who originally published in Spanish really be considered right along with the others who originally published in English without even discussing this issue? I will say in conclusion though, that I appreciate his defense of fantasy as a genre.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Julie Davis

    I enjoyed Drout's science fiction series and this fantasy series was equally as good, albeit with half the lectures focusing on Tolkien and his influence on the modern fantasy genre. I know Drout's got a thing for Tolkien. Me too. Anything else is gravy. (And the gravy here is quite good.) Drout does eventually cover imitators, those who have extended the genre, and so forth. Drout does his best but none of it is as interesting as the Tolkien stuff (at least so far). His closing is extremely stro I enjoyed Drout's science fiction series and this fantasy series was equally as good, albeit with half the lectures focusing on Tolkien and his influence on the modern fantasy genre. I know Drout's got a thing for Tolkien. Me too. Anything else is gravy. (And the gravy here is quite good.) Drout does eventually cover imitators, those who have extended the genre, and so forth. Drout does his best but none of it is as interesting as the Tolkien stuff (at least so far). His closing is extremely strong and thought provoking: about fantasy's main theme being about human freedom and the importance of human imagination. It makes me think of a friend who stood on my doorstep last week saying that she'd never like fantasy because of the elves and dragons and maidens. (She's a real sf fan instead.) I was trying to tell her that fantasy doesn't just deal in those elements. If I'd heard Drout's lecture end then I'd have had some better tools to work with. I like science fiction because it also celebrates humanity and possibility in a lot of good ways. But thinking it over I believe that Drout may be right and that fantasy's center is anchored in human freedom and imagination. A pretty good place to be rooted, seems to me.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    What's geekier than reading fantasy literature? Listening to a lecture that actually takes fantasy literature seriously. Maybe that's why I enjoyed it so much. Drout is a fantasy aficionado and this lecture is perhaps somewhat indulgent on his part, but I think he makes a legitimate argument that fantasy literature is valuable and insightful in that it deals with issues that other literature kind of avoids. He specifically pointed out that more respected literature deals with what death does to What's geekier than reading fantasy literature? Listening to a lecture that actually takes fantasy literature seriously. Maybe that's why I enjoyed it so much. Drout is a fantasy aficionado and this lecture is perhaps somewhat indulgent on his part, but I think he makes a legitimate argument that fantasy literature is valuable and insightful in that it deals with issues that other literature kind of avoids. He specifically pointed out that more respected literature deals with what death does to the people left behind whereas fantasy deals with what it means to die in general. In that sense, fantasy has strong ties to religion and in fact takes a very moralistic view of the world. Drout's focus for more than half of his lectures is JRR Tolkien. While this seems to be an uneven focus, I actually didn't mind. He provides lots of good background information about Tolkien and his works as well as analysis and interpretation of the works themselves.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Rishonda

    This course does an excellent job explaining Tolkien and "The Lord of the Rings," although I must confess I haven't read the books or seen any of the movies. If fact, I wasn't familiar with any of the books discussed in the course. While that may put me at a disadvantage, it also provided insight into a genre I might never have explored. I'm still not positive that the fantasy genre is something I would be interested in, but after taking this course, I have decided to watch the LOTR movies and p This course does an excellent job explaining Tolkien and "The Lord of the Rings," although I must confess I haven't read the books or seen any of the movies. If fact, I wasn't familiar with any of the books discussed in the course. While that may put me at a disadvantage, it also provided insight into a genre I might never have explored. I'm still not positive that the fantasy genre is something I would be interested in, but after taking this course, I have decided to watch the LOTR movies and possibly "The Mists of Avalon" and the "The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant." Nothing else really got my attention, but I'm still glad I took the corse.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.