A best-seller for more than forty years, this is the survey of English literature from the Middle Ages to the twenty-first century. With 274 authors, the Eighth Edition deepens its representation of essential works in all genres, ranging from Seamus Heaney’s translation of “Beowulf” to global twentieth-century classics. Over 75 colour plates and thematic clusters of brief and historically significant texts bring to life the cultural concerns of each period. Concise glosses and annotations, period introductions, biographical headnotes, timelines and selected bibliographies help readers understand and enjoy the rich diversity of English literature.
The eighth edition of The Norton Anthology of English Literature comprises six volumes, sold in two sets of three. The first set includes the volumes “The Middle Ages,” “The Sixteenth Century and The Early Seventeenth Century,” and “Restoration and the Eighteenth Century;” the second set includes “The Romantic Period,” “The Victorian Age,” and “The Twentieth Century and After.” The writings are arranged by author, with each author presented chronologically by date of birth. Historical and biographical information is provided in a series of headnotes for each author and in introductions for each of the time periods.
Within this structure, the anthology incorporates a number of thematically linked “clusters” of texts pertaining to significant contemporary concerns. For example, “The Sixteenth Century and The Early Seventeenth Century” contains four such clusters under the headings, “Literature of The Sacred,” “The Wider World,” “The Science of Self and World,” and “Voices of the War.” The first of these includes four contemporary English translations of an identical passage from the Bible, those of William Tyndale, the Geneva Bible, the Douay-Rheims Version, and the Authorized (King James) Version; selections from the writings of influential Protestant thinkers of the period, including Tyndale, John Calvin, Anne Askew, John Foxe and Richard Hooker; as well as selections from the Book of Common Prayer and the Book of Homilies.
Scholarly material that is clearly presented to students of English literature. The historical and literary information is well cross-referenced. For example, information that appears in the introductory passages of a time period (like the Middle Ages) often reappears, in greater detail, while discussing a particular work of that era. The information given is detailed and specific to the topic, yet interesting even as assigned reading.