Hiya! Let’s just get into it. In this post I’m covering The Norton Anthology of English Literature (8th edition) and The Norton Anthology of Literature by Women (2nd edition).
English Literature is distinct from American Literature in that English Literature is…well…English. The texts in this anthology are taken mostly from England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland, with a few texts from other countries.
The Norton Anthology of English Literature is organized as follows:
The Middle Ages (to ca. 1485)
[Anglo-Saxon, Anglo-Norman, Middle English, and Medieval English Literature]
Including (among others): Beowulf, The Wanderer, The Myth of Authur’s Return, Exile of the Sons of Uisliu, Geoffrey Chaucer, William Langland, Julian of Norwich, Margery Kempe, Sir Thomas Malory
The Sixteenth Century (1485-1603)
Including (among others): John Skelton, Sir Thomas More, The English Bible, William Tyndale, Anne Askew, Book of Homilies, Roger Ascham, Mary 1 (Mary Tudor), Lady Jane Grey, Elizabeth I, Edmund Spenser, Frobisher’s Voyages to the Arctic, Drake’s Circumnavigation of the Globe, Sir Philip Sidney, Christopher Marlowe, William Shakespeare, Thomas Campion, Richard Barnfield
The Early Seventeenth Century (1603-1660)
Including (among others): John Donne, Aemilia Lanyer, Ben Jonson, Mary Wroth, Elizabeth Cary, Sir Francis Bacon, Robert Burton, Thomas Hobbes, George Herbert, Henry Vaughan, Richard Lovelace, Katherine Philips, Andrew Marvell, Lucy Hutchinson, Margaret Cavendish, John Milton
The Restoration and the Eighteenth Century (1660-1785)
Including (among others): John Dryden, Samuel Pepys, Aphra Behn, Mary Astell, Matthew Prior, Jonathan Swift, Alexander Pope, Samuel Johnson, James Boswell, Frances Burney, John Locke, Olaudah Equiano, Oliver Goldsmith, William Cowper
Poems in Process
Appendixes [the book’s spelling]
The British Baronage
Religions in England
The Universe According to Ptolemy
A London Playhouse of Shakespeare’s Time
If you’re unfamiliar with English Lit. or just want a point of reference, this is a good place to start. The texts are all before 1800, so they are Old English. I would like to get my hands on some more recent English Lit., but there are so many books in my physical “to read” collection already, and even more on my “to read” list.
The Norton Anthology of Literature by Women is the best because women make the best writers. There are some pretty good male writers out there, but they can’t hold a candle to these chicks. There’s so much more raw emotion in literature written by women. Okay, so I’m biased, but who cares? This anthology covers a multitude of fabulous female writers from the middle ages to the late twentieth century. I’ll give you a breakdown of the sections and list just a few authors within each.
Literature of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance
Margery Kempe, Juliana Berners, Queen Elizabeth I, Anne Bradstreet, Mary Rowlandson, Anne Finch Countess of Winchilsea, Abigail Adams, Phillis Wheatley, Mary Wollstonecraft, Helen Maria Williams
Literature of the Nineteenth Century
Maria Edgeworth, Jane Austen, Mary Shelley (yes, Frankenstein!), Sojourner Truth, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Fanny Fern (Sara Willis Parton), Harriet Beecher Stowe, Charlotte Brontë, Emily Brontë, Florence Nightingale, Emily Dickinson, Christina Rossetti, Louisa May Alcott
Constance Fenimore Woolson, Alice James, Kate Chopin, Lady Augusta Gregory, Olive Schreiner, Charlotte Perkins Gilman (I LOVE The Yellow Wallpaper), Edith Wharton, Charlotte Mew
Willa Cather, Amy Lowell, Gertrude Stein, Virgina Woolf, Mina Loy, Elinor Wylie, H.D. (Hilda Doolittle), Marianne Moore, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Zora Neale Hurston, Djuna Barnes, Dorothy Parker, Louise Bogan, Meridel Le Sueur
Dorothy Livesay, Eudora Welty, Elizabeth Bishop, May Sarton, Muriel Rukeyser, Tillie Olsen, Ruth Stone, Margaret Walker, Judith Wright, Gwendolyn Brooks, Doris Lessing, Denise Levertov, Anne Sexton, Patricia Beer, Maya Angelou, Ursula Fanthorpe, Adrienne Rich, Sylvia Plath, Lucille Clifton, Diane Wakoski, Margaret Atwood, Sharon Olds, Linda Hogan, Leslie Marmon Silko, Jamaica Kincaid, Jorie Graham, Rita Dove, Lorna Dee Cervantes, Rebecca Brown
There are some great writers in this book, but I’m partial to Zora Neale Hurston, Jamaica Kincaid, Maya Angelou, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman. This is a great introduction to some of their most popular works, but it would be very beneficial to delve deeper into their material. Their perspectives on life and the female experience are phenomenal, and are guaranteed to give you “feels” (like the kids say. haha).
In my next post I’ll introduce (or re-introduce) you to The Norton Anthology of African American Literature as well as Best African American Fiction 2009. Multicultural literature has such a rich quality to it that cannot be matched by anything else. I won’t get into it now, but keep an eye out for my next post.
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