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The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Volume 1

4.21  ·  Rating Details ·  7,825 Ratings  ·  145 Reviews
Middle Ages, The Sixteenth Century, the Early Seventeeth Century, the Restoration and the Eighteenth Century
Hardcover, Fifth Edition
Published May 7th 1986 by Norton (first published 1962)
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Apr 28, 2009 Loo rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: textbooks
This was a perfectly serviceable book, with many, many good texts in it, including all of Paradise Lost, the Canterbury Tales, and other fascinating works. My only gripe is this: they didn't get the best translations. With the medieval texts, especially, they would keep them with the older wording, where every word has to have a footnote in order to be understood. I'm not talking about Shakespeare, I'm talking about "By housbondrie, of swich as God hir sente, / She foond hirself and eek hire dog ...more
Jun 18, 2009 Tracy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Have set a goal to read every selection in this tome! I might be a glutton for punishment, but I want to finish in one year or less.

On page 135. Have found good stuff in here that I wasn't required to read before. Love the biting tribute to William the Conqueror after his death. Also, enjoyed some of the ancient poetry. Have underlined quite a few lines, words, phrases, etc.

Only a million pages to go.

Up to page 255...starting up Chaucer has been a little bit rough. Oh Lord, I haven't even start
Nov 26, 2007 Guillermo marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition

but then again, that's to be expected from brit lit.
Jul 14, 2014 Kaethe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The text for my first semester of senior English.

Mr. Edwards, I know it's been more than twenty years, but you were a brilliant teacher. Wherever you are now, whatever you are doing, I truly hope that life has repaid you generously for the fine work you did with us. I breezed through college English courses in large part because you taught me everything I needed to know. All the rest was just picking good reading lists. Thank you, again. You are part of my brilliant English teacher triumvirate,
Sioned Raybould
Jan 30, 2015 Sioned Raybould rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This anthology is literally my life at the moment, being an English literature student. Don't go anywhere without it.
Ana Mardoll
Dec 27, 2009 Ana Mardoll rated it really liked it
Shelves: ana-reviewed
The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Vol. 1 / 0-393-95469-2

If you are looking at purchasing this book, you've either been required to purchase it for a college course, or you are considering investing in an English literature anthology for your own library and you want to know if this anthology is worth your money. If you are required to buy this book for a course, my review won't matter to you much one way or another, so this is slated towards the latter group.

This is an excellent resour
May 05, 2012 Alan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was the dead-weight anchor of my sophomore teaching experience, though a fine anthology, not that innovative in selections--say, of the play from Shakespeare or the Book from Paradise Lost or the liveliest of Seventeenth Century lyric poems. Take this last stanza from "Love's Offense,"
"Love is the fart / Of every heart./ It pains a man when 'tis kept close / And others offends when let lose." I'll let the reader try to find it in NA; it may be there now, but surely wasn't during the 30+ yea
Mike Jensen
Sep 14, 2014 Mike Jensen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the greatest anthologies of English literature ever produced. Under review here is the section on the early seventeenth-century, 1603-1660, Donne to Milton, edited by Katharine Eiseman Maus.

Maus writes a superb introduction that, printed in a paperback trim size with a normal font size and normal spaces between the lines, would have made a very informative short book. The readings are excellent; all are worthwhile and generally representative of the era. The selections from essays
Jun 26, 2008 Kristin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was dreading studying for the GRE Lit exam, especially having to read Paradise Lost and other poetry. But I finally get it. The Rape of the Lock is phenomenally funny, Paradise Lost (at least the parts concentrating on Satan) is an interesting read, and I've finally gotten over my hatred of poetry. I loved the witty comeback of The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd and the beauty of some of Donne's poems. He took the concept of religious devotion and made it almost sexual and he wrote quite racy ( ...more
Sam (Spines in a Line)
This was a great collection of works. Each period has a clear introduction with plenty of information to get you in the mindset of that time. As well, there was an introduction to each author, which I found incredibly helpful for not only understanding their style of writing but also to gain information on other works they've done that weren't included. I think the collection in this book clearly portrayed the different periods and I wouldn't have changed anything.
The one thing I did find diffic
Oct 01, 2013 Mandy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an assigned text for my British Literature class. A lot of difficult reading, but very fascinating. Some of my favorite readings were Beaowulf, Paradise Lost, and Gulliver't Travels. It was interesting to see the evolution of literature from the Middle Ages through the eighteenth century.
Jason Kinn
That's right. I, Jason Kinn, give the best examples of English literature between Beowulf and 1750, as picked by the foremost scholars in the U.S. and Britain, three fucking stars. That's democracy for you.
S. Sloan
Oct 22, 2014 S. Sloan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book in my English Literature class. I fell in love with English Literature.
Jun 20, 2012 Sammy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
Why Norton? I'm glad you asked, friend! There are many schools of thought on anthologies, some negative, some positive, all fascinating. Of course, if you're buying this because it's a university textbook then really you have no choice; for the rest of us, there's more than meets the eye.

The negative responses tend to come in a few forms:

1: Anthologies reward superficiality. Much like surtitles at the opera, which help convey the surface meaning but encourage people not to "read" the music and t
May 07, 2017 Sana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good collection piece to read occasionally without Order. Pretty hefty!
Yet another Norton anthology. Good reading selections, overall. The annotations are helpful, and the introductory essays are informative yet brief. I do recommend reading those essays, since they tend to pinpoint the most important parts of the reading selection as well as provide history on the piece or the author. Of course, there is that tissue-thin bible paper that makes highlighting impossible (here's a tip: use neon colored crayons). And, thick and heavy as it is, its not the most comforta ...more
Aug 14, 2011 Robin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: at-home, school
I like this series of textbooks. Each section has a clear, concise introduction to different aspects of that theme. It provides brief, informative biographies on each author. It includes a wide variety of authors and poets to choose from. There is no way you could cover everything in this book in one semester. It has wonderful footnotes to help clarify archaic words and phrases as well. All this is presented without any kind of opinion or critique, leaving the passages open for debate or persona ...more
Michael Del Camp
I am not claiming to have read this specific edition, but I took a course in Middle English verses. We read from works such as this, to include excerpts of Chaucer, and varieties of Middle English literature. Norton anthologies have a heft and an editorial authority, that challenges me, because I can never finish reading them, cover to cover. Someday, I will circle back to this one. It is getting late, and all we have is time.
Regina Betz
Jan 07, 2011 Regina Betz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This anthology was selected for an undergraduate 17th century literature course. Unfortunately, the anthology lacks a number of crucial female writers, especially Behn, Leapor, and Lennox, of the 18th century. The prefaces and backgrounds provided for each era in literary history are helpful to those in order to understand the context in which writers may write (In-depth information on Restoration, for example).
I had to use this book for British Literature. It was useful in the variety of works, although we only covered a handful compared to what is available. The size of this book was the biggest downfall in my opinion. I may be more affected by this downfall since I also had another near 3000 page Norton Anthology for American Lit to carry around at the same time. It was better than having to get multiple texts, though. The translations could have also been better.
This is a Norton Anthology. As such I suppose I should mark it as a 5 star read. Well of course in accuracy and information and organization a 5 star rating would clearlyapply. The question I ask myself is did I enjoy the read? Well on my "enjoy-ability" scale I can think of many other books. For that reason only a 4 star. As a text book....5 star all the way. Please understand the fun factor I placed within this review.
The three books of this set were the textbooks for the British Literature I class I took this semester. Looking back I really wish I would have bought the books instead of renting them, since we skipped around quite a bit and there were more things I wanted to read. I hope to take the second class as soon as I can fit it into my class schedule, I loved this one. Even though the assigned reading was hit or miss on how much I enjoyed it.
Dec 26, 2011 Jackie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: half-read
Pretty great compilation of the greats. Except for the fact that I broke my back hauling this giant baby to class, I enjoyed reading classics with helpful footnotes (though my English Literary Traditions prof bemoaned their occasional inaccuracies). It's not the Norton's fault I find some of the texts a bit dry. It's the scholars'. I think.
Jan 20, 2014 Donna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this in college and still have my much dog-eared volume. I do not believe anyone, except an English Professor, could really have 'read' the entire volume. I know there are many parts of it I can not recall; however, the impressions of such great works of literature are with you always. I hope to re-visit passages of this volume as time permits.
Daniel Kukwa
Feb 04, 2011 Daniel Kukwa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general-lit
If it wasn't for the Bible-thin pages -- delicate rice-paper pages I highlighted, annotated & scrawled over during the course of an entire semester of English Lit -- I would still own a copy of this texts-to-beat-all-texts. I didn't enjoy everything in here...but as THE collection of English Lit that EVERY student should be exposed is a masterpiece!
Dec 15, 2009 Lenora rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
While it has an admittedly admirable selection of early English literature, the introductory sections are so dry, they suck out all the color of the rich history behind this literary period. Also, a difficult book to read for those with bad eyesight: the print is tiny and the pages are as thin as Bible paper, leading the opposite sides to bleed through.
Jul 20, 2012 Patricia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was assigned this as a college text a very long time ago, but read only what I had to. I had CLEP tested out of the first course of British Lit, which covered much of this book. Now, I'm reading it for the heck of it, filling in gaps in my education. It's a Norton Anthology, so obviously contains the best writing of that age or ages, in this case.
Feb 02, 2010 Anne rated it liked it
Shelves: classics, own-this
How does one rate the Norton Anthologies? Flawed, as all anthologies are, but also a remarkable collection of English literature. I still own my copy from college, annotated in various colors of ink as the feeling of the day took me, and turn to it as reference from time to time. I only wish Denison had used volume 1 AND volume 2, rather than volume 1 and then the Major Authors anthology.
Aug 27, 2013 Steven rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An amazing anthology of early English literature that includes biographies of the authors, the historical contexts of the work, and timeliness. The editors made excellent choices of the work to include.
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Meyer Howard Abrams is an American literary critic, known for works on Romanticism, in particular his book The Mirror and the Lamp. In a powerful contrast, Abrams shows that until the Romantics, literature was usually understood as a mirror, reflecting the real world, in some kind of mimesis; but for the Romantics, writing was more like a lamp: the light of the writer's inner soul spilled out to i ...more
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