What's your opinion on Norton Anthologies? I've only ever used them for English courses(American Lit (1400's-1860's), contemporary American lit(post 1945) and for a women's lit class) but I was thinking of picking up a couple of older editions for self study. Are there better Anthologies out there? Am I better off just buying single books? Is there any merit in reading anthologies?
I'm more looking for a general overview of periods of literature so I can find authors who are worth looking into outside of the anthology and authors I enjoy, which I've done before during English courses. Obviously it wouldn't be my sole study material.
I've only read (not completely, of course) the English Literature and American Literature one. The ninth edition of the former is quite good, perhaps the best anthology of English literature out there (even better, I would say, than the Oxford, and I'm very partial towards that one).
Single editions are better only if they are very specialized (e.g. Arden Shakespeare, Norton Critical Editions, Hackett one, etc). The good thing about anthologies is the amount of works a single book can encompass. Although they are meant to be introductory, both Norton and Oxford are quite thorough, and will help you to get introduced to quite a number of writers. They also arranged chronologically, so you get a better grasp of how literature has developed over the ages.
>Is there any merit in reading anthologies?
What do you mean by merit? If you are asking if you're going to get applauded for reading one, then no, of course not. If you are asking if they are good enough, well, perhaps you should try writing one and see if there is merit in that.
I prefer 'Complete Works' of a single author, to anthologies of a period. I enjoy looking at works or authors in isolation, then if they had any influences or stylistically similair contemporaries--or if they influenced anyone--I may check them out after.
Thank you for your well thought out reply! My main goal is, like you said, to get a general overview of literary trends, what authors are worth looking into and what authors I enjoy. So I think I'll definitely look into the other Norton anthologies that I don't already own unless a majority of people say otherwise.
>Is there any merit in reading anthologies?
I worded this poorly, I'm a bit scatterbrained from hours of studying on adderall today. I meant are they decent introductions to periods of literature? Are they worth learning an overview from, etc.
I'm definitely willing to look into complete works as well as anthologies. Any specific complete works you enjoyed?
I like the riverside chaucer and obviously a complete shakespeare is great, although there are quite a few of them. Otherwise complete works are very rare, most just publish selections.
I've read a few, but I'll describe one--it's late and I need to have my sleep soon.
Hackett's Complete Works of Plato: It has a solid introduction, discussing various readings of Plato, the ordering of the dialogues, whether one can know what Plato truly believed, etcetera. The dialogues all have mini-introductions as well, which help one understand the dialogue. There's also notes which explain allussions to Greek literature, and society, and so on. The translations are fine, but if you want to read Plato for his literary skill, then there are far better ones.
No prob m8, I'm glad I could help you.
>I meant are they decent introductions to periods of literature?
Yes, they are. That's precisely why university-level courses use anthologies. Exactly what anthologies are you looking for? Just English literature, or something more specific? If the former, then you have two options: Norton (9th edition) and Oxford. The former, as I said, is better because it is constantly edited and thus includes more works than, say, the Oxford, which, although some might say it's out-dated (and even sort of "mysogynist" [which it isn't]), it is quite good, and includes a good amount of work by canonical poets and prosists (although I would take out some minor ones in favor of more works by more canonical writers, but that's just me).
Although you should bear in mind that anthologies and complete works are quite different. Anthologies encompass many writers and periods of literature and are for the most part introductory, while complete works are quite specific.
>Although you should bear in mind that anthologies and complete works are quite different.
Of course lol, I didn't ask about complete works but I'm still open to reading them. As for what I'm looking for specifically I'm not really sure yet. I was just looking at the norton catalog and I was thinking about getting the 2 American lit ones I don't have(post-civil war to WWII) and the British lit ones.