Cover art for Books That Matter: The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

Books That Matter: The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

3 ratings

Summary

Published in six volumes between 1776 and 1781, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire - for all its renown - can be intimidating. It contains one point five million words, an estimated 8,000 footnotes, a cast of 10,000 historical figures, and a timeline of more than 1,000 years. Yet even today, Gibbon's historical chronicle demands to be understood. These 24 lectures invite you on a riveting examination of this great work as a vast historical chronicle, a compelling masterpiece of literature, a sharp commentary on cultural mores, and a cautionary tale to Enlightenment Europe. In this chapter-by-chapter guide to the Decline and Fall, Professor Damrosch helps you navigate the book's themes, structure, and lasting influence. You'll approach the Decline and Fall as a written work whose footnotes, periodic style, and historical blind spots reflect the styles and ideologies of the Enlightenment age in which it was written. And for those intimidated by its thousands of pages or who feel they may lack the time to fully appreciate Gibbon's narrative of how Rome fell to "barbarism and religion", these lectures offer a richly detailed overview of what Gibbon called "many of the events most interesting in human annals", including: the reign of the Antonines, the rise of Christianity and Islam, the codification of Roman law, the Crusades, and the dawn of medieval Europe. Whether you've read the Decline and Fall before or whether you've always wanted to read it but never knew where to start, Professor Damrosch's lectures are an authoritative guide to a once-mighty empire - and the great book that became its classic eulogy and epitaph. PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2017 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2017 The Great Courses

Narrator: Leo Damrosch
Length: 12 hrs and 14 mins
Available on Audible
Cover art for The Enlightenment Invention of the Modern Self

The Enlightenment Invention of the Modern Self

2 ratings

Summary

In 24 lectures that let you see the world through the eyes of the Enlightenment's greatest writers, follow the origin of new ways of thinking-ideas we today take for granted but are startlingly recent-about the individual and society. You'll discover how these notions emerged in an era of transition from a world dominated by classical thought, institutional religion, and the aristocracy to one that was increasingly secular, scientific, skeptical, and middle class. These lectures are essentially about ideas and about books-how great ideas are alive and powerful in the pages of significant written works. The guiding premise is that the best way to appreciate the thinking of a given period is to explore its literature. You'll note or discuss at length a range of novels, autobiographies, and biographies from the 1670s to the 1790s, including The Pilgrim's Progress, Candide, The London Journal, The Social Contract, Confessions, and Songs of Innocence and of Experience. If you haven't already done so, this is your opportunity to familiarize yourself with this remarkable collection of works. What was, after all, the modern self that the Enlightenment invented? This engaging lecture series suggests that it was a new human insight, one that rejected absolute or easily generalized explanations and embraced the conflict, confusion, and paradox of life. It was a new and dynamic account of human life-one that continues to both benefit and afflict us. And in the company of a master educator, you can finally discover why our everyday lives in the modern world are indebted to the writings of the Enlightenment thinkers.

©2003 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2003 The Great Courses

Narrator: Leo Damrosch
Length: 12 hrs and 12 mins
Available on Audible
Cover art for The Club

The Club

2 ratings

Summary

Prize-winning biographer Leo Damrosch tells the story of "the Club", a group of extraordinary writers, artists, and thinkers who gathered weekly at a London tavern. In 1763, the painter Joshua Reynolds proposed to his friend Samuel Johnson that they invite a few friends to join them every Friday at the Turk's Head Tavern in London to dine, drink, and talk until midnight. Eventually, the group came to include among its members Edmund Burke, Adam Smith, Edward Gibbon, and James Boswell. It was known simply as "the Club".  In this captivating audiobook, Leo Damrosch brings alive a brilliant, competitive, and eccentric cast of characters. With the friendship of the "odd couple" Samuel Johnson and James Boswell at the heart of his narrative, Damrosch conjures up the precarious, exciting, and often brutal world of late 18th-century Britain. This is the story of an extraordinary group of people whose ideas helped to shape their age - and our own.

©2019 Leo Damrosch (P)2019 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Narrator: Simon Vance
Author: Leo Damrosch
Length: 15 hrs and 1 min
Available on Audible
Cover art for Rise of the Novel

Rise of the Novel

Summary

Thousands of novels are published around the world every year. There are so many readily available, it would take multiple lifetimes for a single person to even read a fraction of them. But it hasn’t always been that way.  While humans have always been storytellers, the novel as we recognize it today is a relatively new art form in the timeline of human culture. Of all the ways we tell stories, why has the novel become such a perennial favorite? How did the novel go from a narrative experiment with a low-brow reputation to a cultural touchstone and focal point of modern literature?  In the 24 lectures of Rise of the Novel, you will take a journey from the birth of the novel to the height of the form in the mid-19th century - and better understand what this literary form can tell us about human nature and our unquenchable thirst for great stories. With Professor Emeritus Leo Damrosch of Harvard University as your guide, you will dive into some of the most notable works that helped create and shape the novel over the course of more than three centuries, looking at the social and historical influences that coincided with shifts in literary taste along the way.  Beginning with Don Quixote - held up by many scholars as the foundational text from which the novel form would spring - Professor Damrosch will lead you through works both tragic and comic, brief and diffuse, epic and domestic. From early works like La Princesse de Clèves and Robinson Crusoe to pinnacles of the form in the 19th century such as Emma and Middlemarch - along with a few novels that are less familiar today but well worth knowing - you will dive into works with different perspectives and intentions that have all impacted our culture in their own way.  PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2020 The Great Courses (P)2020 The Teaching Company, LLC

Narrator: Leo Damrosch
Category: History, World
Length: 12 hrs and 5 mins
Available on Audible
Cover art for Jonathan Swift: His Life and His World

Jonathan Swift: His Life and His World

Summary

National Book Critics Circle Award Winner, Biography, 2013 Jonathan Swift is best remembered today as the author of Gulliver’s Travels, the satiric fantasy that quickly became a classic and has remained in print for nearly three centuries. Yet Swift also wrote many other influential works, was a major political and religious figure in his time, and became a national hero, beloved for his fierce protest against English exploitation of his native Ireland. What is really known today about the enigmatic man behind these accomplishments? Can the facts of his life be separated from the fictions?  In this deeply researched biography, Leo Damrosch draws on discoveries made over the past 30 years to tell the story of Swift’s life anew. Probing holes in the existing evidence, he takes seriously some daring speculations about Swift’s parentage, love life, and various personal relationships and shows how Swift’s public version of his life - the one accepted until recently - was deliberately misleading. Swift concealed aspects of himself and his relationships, and other people in his life helped to keep his secrets. Assembling suggestive clues, Damrosch re-narrates the events of Swift’s life while making vivid the sights, sounds, and smells of his English and Irish surroundings.  Through his own words and those of a wide circle of friends, a complex Swift emerges: a restless, combative, empathetic figure, a man of biting wit and powerful mind, and a major figure in the history of world letters.

©2013 Leo Damrosch (P)2014 Audible Inc.

Narrator: David Stifel
Author: Leo Damrosch
Length: 20 hrs and 43 mins
Available on Audible