The Norton Anthology English Literature, Major Authors.

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    Jan 11, 2013 6:13 AM GMT
    I think I'll be lucky enough if I get just one answer or even a few ones, but I'm shooting for this anyways.

    I'm so excited to get this book. It's for my English class this semester, and we'll be reading from Beowulf, Paradise Lost, some Shakespeare, to modern literature. From what I've seen, this book has some good reading in it, and I'm really excited and looking forward to this English class (awkward).

    Does anyone else has gotten/read some literature from the book? and if so, what woud you recommend as a must-read?
  • calibro

    Posts: 8888

    Jan 11, 2013 12:37 PM GMT
    that anthology is horrible. aside from being boring and clunky, it's a hallmark of the white protestant heterosexual male canonizing of literature. their selections are more and more egregious as the editions move into the contemporary realms. there's nothing interesting nor modern about norton anthologies. those anthologies are a joke to all the writers i know. the best use of one of those books is as a blunt, murder weapon. that said, norton is still my editor, so buy all their books.
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    Jan 11, 2013 12:39 PM GMT
    Yes, I remember Norton Anthology, but I believe it was my senior year of high school.
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    Jan 11, 2013 12:52 PM GMT
    calibro saidthat anthology is horrible. aside from being boring and clunky, it's a hallmark of the white protestant heterosexual male canonizing of literature. their selections are more and more egregious as the editions move into the contemporary realms. there's nothing interesting nor modern about norton anthologies. those anthologies are a joke to all the writers i know. the best use of one of those books is as a blunt, murder weapon. that said, norton is still my editor, so buy all their books.


    The Norton Anthology is intimately linked to, and reflects, the old fashioned style of pedagogy. It's also hardly the easiest book to read physically!

    But there are some gems in there. Seamus Heaney's translation of Beowulf is amazing—who can't love Chaucer, John Donne, Jonathan Swift?

    And there's lots of exciting things in the modern section: Wilfred Owen, Hanif Kureishi, Stevie Smith, Larkin, Stoppard...

    It's certainly true that the Norton Anthology *is* the establishment. It's also true that the poor pieces in it have been mercilessly flogged, pressed and cowered into a miserable poorly typeset submission. But maybe our enthusiastic OP can find some remaining magic in a few of these pieces that were once remarkable before being shot, stuffed and posed in their musty display case?
  • calibro

    Posts: 8888

    Jan 11, 2013 12:56 PM GMT
    TigerTim said
    calibro saidthat anthology is horrible. aside from being boring and clunky, it's a hallmark of the white protestant heterosexual male canonizing of literature. their selections are more and more egregious as the editions move into the contemporary realms. there's nothing interesting nor modern about norton anthologies. those anthologies are a joke to all the writers i know. the best use of one of those books is as a blunt, murder weapon. that said, norton is still my editor, so buy all their books.


    The Norton Anthology is intimately linked to, and reflects, the old fashioned style of pedagogy. It's also hardly the easiest book to read physically!

    But there are some gems in there. Seamus Heaney's translation of Beowulf is amazing—who can't love Chaucer, John Donne, Jonathan Swift?

    And there's lots of exciting things in the modern section: Wilfred Owen, Hanif Kureishi, Stevie Smith, Larkin, Stoppard...

    It's certainly true that the Norton Anthology *is* the establishment. It's also true that the poor pieces in it have been mercilessly flogged, pressed and cowered into a miserable poorly typeset submission. But maybe our enthusiastic OP can find some remaining magic in a few of these pieces that were once remarkable before being shot, stuffed and posed in their musty display case?


    you can read all those things without buying an anthology
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    Jan 11, 2013 1:08 PM GMT
    calibro said
    you can read all those things without buying an anthology


    True—but you seemed to be arguing with the selection not the idea of an anthology!

    I think the real problem is with the idea that one should have a class based on *so many* texts. How on earth can one get anything meaningful out of them? One you limit the selection, as you say, there's no need for an anthology.

    I just remembered this rather hilarious essay: Canonizing the Canonizer: A Short History of The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Well worth a read!
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    Jan 11, 2013 4:49 PM GMT
    A good paper would be comparing Edmund Spenser's Faerie Queen to Monty Python's The Life of Brian.
  • Destinharbor

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    Jan 11, 2013 5:04 PM GMT
    I think there's tremendous value in being exposed to the "Great Books" through an anthology. Sure, it's an intro course, sure it's WASP (I mean, really, it is ENGLISH), and definitely you can get into more depth with a more targeted approach, but just for exposure to a broad spectrum of Western culture lit, especially when accompanied by a good lecture series, I think it is great. Can be thrilling if you've never had a really great English teacher. We all take intro courses before specialization. That's why the best colleges start with REQUIREMENTS. I took Rocks for Jocks and that's about all I know about geology but I'm glad I was exposed to it. Same with Chemistry- not my field but at least I know why soap works. Try opening your mind to how great it is that OP is excited by all this great lit!
  • blueandgold

    Posts: 396

    Jan 11, 2013 6:19 PM GMT
    I loved it and still have mine.
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    Jan 11, 2013 6:31 PM GMT
    I had a copy way back in the day. I thought it was interesting for an introductory class. A quick and inexpensive way to expose students to a range of classics within the confines of a busy semester. As I recall, it was mostly excerpts and examples, rather than a collection of complete works. But my copy seems to have disappeared at some point over the years.
  • GQjock

    Posts: 11649

    Jan 11, 2013 8:43 PM GMT
    I remember it well back in College

    Looking back .... it was a book that housed many works were it not for the English Lit that I took I would have missed out on