I went into my local Barnes & Nobel to buy a gift certificate for Organic Mama‘s younger daughter’s birthday present. It’s important that you understand that my ONLY intention was to walk out with the gift certificate.
I should know better by now.
Fifty-some-odd dollars later, I walk out with three grammar books and the wonderful collection you see to the left. B&N has come up with a series of university-level courses on CD on an AMAZING range of subjects; the inside cover of the book that came with the series lists 25 different titles in 6 different areas of concentration. Seriously; one can get anything from how men and women communicate to the Treaty of Versailles to appreciating classical music to the gem *I* picked up, “What a Piece of Work is Man.”
The set comes with eight CDs upon which a professor – in this case, Harold Bloom of Yale and Harvard – expounds upon the subject at hand – in this case, seven selected Shakespearean tragedies. The set is intended to reflect the lecture series of an entire university class, and I have to say (having taken more than my share of university classes) that they’ve done a pretty good job. The box I have – I can’t speak with any authority about what’s in the others – also contains a book with the transcribed lectures, study questions, suggested reading and useful websites. From what I’ve seen and heard thus far, it’s remarkable. A concise, inclusive, intelligent and well delivered course on the Bard’s tragic works.
I’ve been listening to the lecture on Hamlet in my car as I’ve completed the various errands of my day, and I have to say that I’m very, very pleased with the purchase (there’s a fair bit of alliteration in this post, isn’t there? I assure you, it’s not intentional). And one can’t beat the price. As an undergrad, I paid upwards of $1300 for the Shakespeare course I took in the summer of ’95. While no one is going to offer a student credit for listening to lectures on CD, if the goal is more about what’s in your head than what’s on your transcript, you can’t beat a college-level course for less than 40 bucks.