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This documentary series examines famous fiction and non fiction books. With each episode, a book's content is explored as well as the times in which the work was written. Furthermore, the nature of the book's significance is explored as well as its impact.


Saisons & épisodes Les résumés de tous les épisodes de Great Books

S01E01 Le Morte d'Arthur 08/09/1993 How the theme of hero worship grew from tales of King Arthur in Malory's "Le Morte D'Arthur". Included: comments from filmmaker George Lucas on how the "Star Wars" films evolved from the book. Narrated by Donald Sutherland.
S01E02 Frankenstein 08/09/1993 How Mary Shelley's novel "Frankenstein" reflects concerns about the consequences of scientific experimentation. Included: a profile of Shelley; comments from authors Anne Rice and Anne K. Mellor. Donald Sutherland narrates.
S01E03 The Odyssey 00/00/0000 Men have been embarking on odysseys since the dawn of civilization. In 1970, Captain James Lovell, commander of the ill-fated Apollo XIII mission named his command module Odyssey. Looking up the definition of odyssey, you'll find it means a long voyage with many changes of fortune, and that it was - in spades. But the granddaddy of all odysseys comes to us from a thousand years before Christ, the story of a mythical Greek warrior named Odysseus and his search for home. Together with its companion poem, The Iliad, they form western literature's first action adventure story, written by the man we call Homer. It is a grand adventure, an allegory of all our lives, writ large. We first meet Odysseus in The Iliad, during one of the most famous wars in history, The Trojan War. We think the actual war happened, if it happened at all, around 1200 BC. It is in The Iliad that we read of Helen of Troy, "The Face That Launched A Thousand Ships", and in The Odyssey, the Trojan Horse, which taught us to beware of Greeks bearing gifts, or gifts bearing Greeks. So the warriors of The Iliad have left a legacy from the sublime to the ridiculous: Achilles can be found in medical books; Ajax is on every supermarket shelf; names and images that have survived three thousand years appear and reappear, known and unknown. It is these stories that are the first stories of Western civilization, and every time you pick up one of these stories, you're on the edge of something archetypal, something that's always - and always will be - within us.
S01E04 Nineteen Eighty Four 11/11/2000 Written in 1949, George Orwell envisioned a grim future. By 1984, he imagined political leaders manipulating the multitudes into placing infinite faith in their power. In Great Books: 1984, revisit Orwell's life and work, and explore his darkest novel which is sometimes difficult to distinguish from today's reality.
S01E05 Inferno 23/02/2002 An examination of “The Inferno,” the 14th-century work by author Dante Alighieri that details the implications and consequences of life choices.
S01E06 The Interpretation of Dreams 17/05/2001 There is a dark side to each one of us where our forbidden fear, lust and anger lurk. These unconscious desires do not rest quietly in the human psyche. They are in a sense our enemy within. One man believed he could exorcise our demons through the study of dreams. Sigmund Freud took pride in disturbing the sleep of humanity. At the turn of the century in Vienna, Austria, Dr. Sigmund Freud claimed he had discovered a new doorway to the unconscious... So tell me anything that comes into your mind. Perhaps we could begin with your dream last night. Freud's self-proclaimed masterpiece, The Interpretation of Dreams, offered readers a window into our most secret selves. In his revolutionary work, Freud suggested that often the purpose of dreams is to satisfy through fantasy the instinctive urges that society judges unacceptable. The laws of logic that rule our waking world do not apply to the kingdom of sleep where we are free to experience fantastic adventures. For Freud this liberation of fantasy was a path that led to the heart of the unconscious.
S01E07 Moved to correct season page 00/00/0000 It is said that the apple fell on Newton's head, but it was Galileo who planted the tree. This program examines The Dialogue "arguably the most controversial book of its time" and the tumultuous events revolving around Galileo's visionary scientific achievements. The insights of Harvard University's Owen Gingerich, emeritus professor of the history of science; George Coyne, director of the Vatican Observatory; and others, plus dramatizations of scenes from the book and Galileo's trial, capture the intellectual fervor of the Scientific Revolution and the Church's struggle to discourage acceptance of Copernican cosmology.
S01E08 Moved to correct season page 00/00/0000 In the story of Gulliver's Travels a beached sailor takes four voyages to visit creatures large and small, in places far away. It is a dark and comical tale, read on many levels, characterized by a grotesque and deviate view of human kind. Perhaps it's an attempt to answer the question, "Who are we?" or "What is our nature?" At carnivals and amusement parks we can see ourselves and others from different perspectives. Our imagination is engaged as we see mirrors and distortions of ourselves. Long ago, there lived a genius and prolific writer, Jonathan Swift, who wrote a tale on distorted creatures and distorted perspectives. In it, he seemed to ask that question for us all: Who am I?
S01E09 Moved to correct season page 00/00/0000 The most mysterious character in American literature may well be a great white whale. It represents what is at once beautiful, terrifying and incomprehensible in the universe. The story of an obsessed captain and his quest to hunt down and kill the great white whale has become part of our consciousness re-told in everything from comic books to Hollywood movies. It's a tall tale about pursuit into the unknown, a tale encompassing humankind's history on earth, and its struggle between reason and madness, good and evil.

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