More than a shorter version of a novel, the short story is a unique and rewarding literary form in itself. In Masterpieces of Short Fiction, esteemed scholar and educator Dr. Michael Krasny takes you into 23 renowned short stories from iconic writers like Edgar Allan Poe and Ernest Hemingway. You explore how tales such as "The Cask of Amontillado" and "The Killers" characterize the artistry and insight found in these miniature masterpieces. Travel into a world of imagination and gain an appreciation of how these great authors elevated the craft of storytelling into an art form whose impact can last a lifetime.
Average Customer Rating:
Rating Snapshot(29 reviews)
"18 of 29(62%)reviewers would recommend the course to a friend."
Customer Reviews for Masterpieces of Short Fiction
Review 21 for Masterpieces of Short Fiction
Date:January 2, 2012
"I have enjoyed several other Literature courses by the Teaching Company. This is by far the least educative. Although I liked the selection of short fiction chosen and enjoyed reading them, I found the lectures to be of a very inferior standard. The lecturer spent much of the time rereading excerpts and retelling the story with very little to add to my own reading experience. The lectures were very repetitive and general."
11out of12found this review helpful.
Excellent Introductory Course
Posted September 30, 2012
I've enjoyed other TTC courses on a deeper level but this course is excellent as an introduction to masterly short fiction pieces. The selection of stories were wonderful--several authors I was newly introduced to and I will read more of their works to be sure. The professor could have driven deeper into each work but I believe time was a major limitation and the approach, I think, was more that of a survey course. For me, it was money and time well spent and even as a graduate English and American Literature student, I learned a lot!
1out of1found this comment helpful.
California (the instructor's neck of the woods)
Just shy of a waste of time
Posted September 19, 2012
As an unmitigated Great Courses junkie and published short story writer, I had high hopes for this course. What a disappointment! It is just shy of a complete waste of time. I found myself wondering whether we, Mr. Krasny and I, had read the same story. His presentation and musing styles come from a place of ego. The content was repetitive; his analysis, purile. His French pronunciation -- which he throws about with great abandon -- is abysmal. To his credit, Mr. Krasny speaks with great confidence and fluidity; all the more disappointing to those of us who were hoping to learn something.
1out of1found this comment helpful.
Review 22 for Masterpieces of Short Fiction
Date:February 4, 2012
"I have taken two other literature courses from Great Courses which I thoroughly enjoyed. However, this "Short Fiction" course seemed to drag. It was the presentation that irritated me more than the content. Dr. Krasny although obviously knowledgeable about the the subject matter did not seem confortable in his presentation. He appeared to read each lecture which did not always go smoothly. He also repeated information several times in the same lecture.
The selection of stories was varied and interesting. The information was there but hard to distill.
I did not recommend this course because there are other literature courses here that are much more informative and enjoyable."
"This 24 lecture 12 hour course covers 23 of the best short stories ever written. The selection of stories for this course is outstanding and includes many of the recognized greats of short fiction. Included here, among others, are 19th century writers Poe, Hawthorne, Gogol, Chekov, and James. Early 20th century writers include Joyce, Babel, Hemingway, and Kafka. The course concludes with discussion of works by more recent writers - Garcia Marquez, Baldwin, Gordimer, and Carver, among others. This is simply an outstanding collection of works and writers.
It is absolutely imperative that one read the short story carefully (at least once, maybe twice) in addition to listening to the lectures of Professor Krasny. I found it best to read the story first, then listen to the course lecture, and then re-read the story while reviewing the lecture notes. Reading the work before listening to the lecture provides a better basis for understanding the lecture material. In addition, you may miss out on the fun of reading through to many of the surprise and ironic endings of these works (if you have not read them before) if you go to the lecture first. Professor Krasny does a nice job hitting some of the high points of each work in his 30 minute discussion. He gave me plenty to consider as went back for my re-reading of the story.
One downside to the course is that I had to go to multiple sources to find the text of these works of short fiction. Some of the older stories can be downloaded free of charge to a Kindle. A number of the other stories can be found in either the 9th edition of Norton’s Introduction to Literature or the 7th edition of Charters’ The Story and Its Writer: An Introduction to Short Fiction. A few may require locating other collections of stories to borrow or purchase. Inclusion of an accompanying volume with the text of the selected short stories would have been a great addition to the course. However, in truth, the search for the text of the stories in this course often led me to a rich storehouse of other material to put aside and read at a later date.
I must admit that this was my first reading of several of the authors presented in this course - Babel, Mansfield, Paley, Baldwin, Gordimer, and Carver, to name a few. I am grateful for the introduction to these authors and plan to read more of them. There are many classic short stories that were not included in this course. It might be reasonable to consider a second course focusing on short fiction chosen among different works and authors."
"If you are expecting relevations that will earn you a PhD then this course may not be for you. If you want to read stories by some of the great masters of fiction and then, as Dr Krasny states in lecture 1, listen to a 'discussion' of those stories this is for you. The lectures first cover some background on the authors and then move on to present insights and analysis as well as exploring some of the subtle, hidden meanings in the stories. It's also great if time is a premium for you. The stories are short so I tend to read one before going to bed and then listen to the corresponding lecture on my drive to work in the morning. Then I read another on my lunch break and listen to that lecture on the drive home. All in all, a very entertaining course."
"Overall, I found this course wonderful and I came to enjoy and respect Professor Krasny immensely. However, I must admit that it was a tad difficult "getting into" the manner in which the professor approached the subject matter.
Perhaps I was expecting a more linear approach. For example, an outline of the story, some discussion of the author and perhaps his/her background and motives for writing the piece, etc. (In retrospect, this might have been a boring approach, after all.)
What Professor Krasny does, instead, is similar to swooping about and all around the story, the author, the times in which the author lived, his/her companions and experiences, and critics' (of their time and ours) reactions to the short piece under study. The result is a highly engaging, ongoing narrative thread about how stories are told, varying expectations of both readers and authors, and the growing sophistication and broadening of "the canon" of masterpiece short stories.
While I had read few of the stories discussed in this course, I was familiar with about half the authors. One of the results of my taking this course was my ordering collected works of the short stories of several of the authors discussed by Professor Krasny and, for me, this is the highest praise possible.
Further, as the course continued I found myself looking forward more each time to the next lecture, for the personality and engagement of the lecturer were growing on me. Clearly a brilliant man, the professor is also approachable, likable, and possesses a good sense of humor.
Ultimately, these stories say much about the human condition, and much about the "little people" (like you and me) who, while not playing much of a role noted in history books, nonetheless, struggle with, and occasionally discover revelations which connect them to us in powerfully intimate ways.
A highly meaningful course which I heartily recommend to all lovers of reading."
"Well, i have been buying and listening to a lot of literary courses from teaching company because i want to start writing my own stories... Not sure why almost All professors feel like customers are looking for some history/biography of writers etc. If i want such an information, i can find it on web/elsewhere. Why don't they discuss the plot,character development,sub-text,nuances and dissect the story so we can engage in some creative thinking??? When will teaching company get truly in-depth college degree level courses on literature rather than creating useless bundles of 20best, 30 best, 20 world, 20 western/world etc. courses???? Also, what's this attachment with every lecture being 30 minutes rather than taking up as much time as content demands?"
"Since I teach A Good Man, a story I love, I jumped to that one and was greatly disappointed by this professor's shallow, indeed off course, interpretation. Pigeon-holing Ms. O'Connor as a "Catholic" writer has always been a problem. Perhaps he bought into this ridiculous notion and tried to sniff out "Catholicisms". Even my students knew that the grandmother touches the misfit because she is desperately trying to save herself. She is hardly the blessing type. She even tells the psychopath he is a "good man". The point is that she, like all of us, can't find one because she isn't good enough herself to recognize one. We need to start with ourselves (hardly a notion limited to Catholics). There is irony in the title. This "scholar" needs to re-read the story and stop underestimating the writer's garvitas. She transcends her religion as all great artists do. He really missed all of the story's beauty."
"I'm not sure why some of the reviews of Dr. Krasney have been so harsh. He has a "conversational" tone, but it is pleasent. I purchased this course years ago and just listened to it for the third time. It was still fresh and I picked up some new insights. I think it compares well even to other excellent teaching company courses. The presentation is good and short story selection is beyond reproach. I am happy with this purchase."
"Michael Krasny has a great voice and I have always loved listening to him on NPR. I know that might be a strange reason to purchase a course, but when you drive miles and miles every day, it can be a blessing. Like many of his listeners, I just love to read. His "overview" and recommendations have introduced me to new works and authors I now enjoy. It was a fun course!"