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The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Vol 1: The Middle Ages through the Restoration & the Eighteenth Century

4.20  ·  Rating Details  ·  7,055 Ratings  ·  136 Reviews
A legendary bestseller for more than forty years, this is the classic survey to the field 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 Seamas Heaney's award-winning translation of Beowulf, Milton's Paradise Lost, and More's Utopia to the great poets and prose
Hardcover, 8th, 3072 pages
Published October 1st 2005 by W. W. Norton & Company (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
Nov 26, 2007 Guillermo marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition

but then again, that's to be expected from brit lit.
Nov 03, 2010 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
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
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,
Dec 07, 2014 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.
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.
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.
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
Ana Mardoll
Feb 18, 2011 Ana Mardoll rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 12, 2013 Sam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
I have my thesis on Victorian literature,'Lady of Shalott - the Victorian ideal woman ?", so i need books that treat women's position of that period/sexuality/etc. Do you think this book is useful ? What other books would you recommend me ?
Jul 28, 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
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.
May 30, 2014 Ali rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ah brings back memories of doing my Degree in University. The 4 stars are because it was useful, not that I particularly enjoyed reading it at the time!
Aayat Hasan
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jillian Eliza
Jun 01, 2015 Jillian Eliza rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: english-class
Since this was for a Brit Lit class, I did not read the entire anthology.
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.
This was one of my college textbooks. It had a lot of essential classics, as well as some very helpful timelines and historical contexts. It covers basically the earliest surviving works of the British isles all the way up to the 1700s and their travel stories.
May 08, 2012 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
Feb 13, 2016 Neha is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
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.
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
Nov 24, 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).
Feb 02, 2010 Anne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jan 23, 2014 Eliot rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent textbook.
Michelle Elizabeth
An old college book, we never read all of it for class because it's so huge; I liked a lot of what we did read, though. I sold my original book back at the end of the semester, but found this copy of the same book (just a different edition which, for a lit book, just means a different forward) for .33¢! If only I could have found this at the start of the semester LOL.
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!
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Stephen Greenblatt (Ph.D. Yale) is Cogan University Professor of English and American Literature and Language at Harvard University. Also General Editor of The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Eighth Edition, he is the author of nine books, including Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare; Hamlet in Purgatory; Practicing New Historicism; Marvelous Possessions: The Wonder of t ...more
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