Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Monsters, Gods, and Heroes: Approaching the Epic in Literature

These lectures take a narrow view of "Epic", to focus primarily on long-form poetry that has a bold universal appeal. The Odyssey, Aeneid, Fairy Queen, Baeuwolf, Divine Comedy and Paradise Lost are the ones primarily covered here. Some such as Gilgamesh, Ramayana and El Cid are not mentioned. Other modern works are considered "almost epics". (Huck Finn, Moby Dick, Wagner ring cycle.) Fantasy, such as Tolkein's Lord of the Rings is considered to be the best successor to the epic.

The lectures spend some time quoting from the epics and presenting some analysis of them. However, there is not enough time to fully cover these works, leaving the analysis rather superficial, though at the same time a little too long. The narrow definition of the epic also self-limits what can be told. Some of Shutt's other more focused lectures are much better.

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