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Rise of the Novel  By  cover art

Rise of the Novel

By: Leo Damrosch,The Great Courses
Narrated by: Leo Damrosch
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Publisher's 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

What listeners say about Rise of the Novel

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the more I read the further behind I get

I had read about half of this course list. The course motivated me to re-listen to them and am working my way through the remainder - a couple are not available on Audible and I just need an energy drink to finish Clarissa. That is what I expected the course to do; it keeps me fresh in my own classes. But I'd wish for more clarity on parameters. More definition of what makes a novel: why are Tale of Genji, Beowulf not novels? Why did he select what he did? Why Henry Fielding and not his sister's novel? Why include Spanish, French and German and not Russian, Canadian or Asian? Obviously no great American novelists existed before the 20th century. Why are mid 19th century works considered "early"? I think a better title for this course would have been "Pre 20th Century Novels I Liked".

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This One Just Didn't Work for Me

I love the Great Courses, but this particular set of lectures didn’t work for me. It focuses on 24 books that show different aspects of the growth of the form of the novel. I hadn’t read most of the books, but even for those I had read, I had difficulty getting more than halfway through each lecture. Generally, I felt that Damrosch made his point in the first few minutes of each and the rest of the detail just didn’t interest me.

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  • 10-27-22

So good to hear anyone’s reaction to Middlemarch.

Any time someone reflects on how they responded to Middlemarch it’s consistently surprising. Hearing any such account always makes world always feels more human. Many thanks,👏

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Great Teacher

Great material. Thoroughly enjoyable. Looked forward to each lecture and was never disappointed. Will even listen again.

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Shed New Light

Shed additional light on several novels and authors for me. What ties them all together is Continued Universal Human Cluelessness.