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 writers of the nineteenth century—Blake and Austen, Wordsworth and Byron, Tennyson and Barrett Browning—to twentieth-century classics of a truly global English literature—Conrad's Heart of Darkness, Woolf's A Room of One's Own, Achebe's Things Fall Apart, and Friel's Translations, to name but a few. Color plates—over 75 in all—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 Norton series of anthologies never fails to disappoint, and this is proof that they're not about to. A hefty book, it delivers on its' promise; from cover to cover it is full poems and prose from the Middle Ages clean through to the Eighteenth Century. On (nearly) every author there is a detailed biography, helpful to get inside the mind of the writer and understand where they're coming from. A nice feature is the inclusion of full-length texts. From shorter plays, as Marlowe's "Dr. Faustus" through two complete Shakespeare's (whether you believe he wrote them or not :) )and even all the books of Paradise Lost-- and that's just in one time period. Included in the middle are colour plates of a smattering of different items, and while not necessarily critical to the enjoyment or usefulness of the Anthology, it's certainly a nice touch -- a way to give the eyes a break after digesting a few hundred lines of poetry.
Overall, great, both for the student reading through it for a Humanities course to the Accomplished professional reading through on a quiet evening.