The Norton Anthology of English Literature Celebrates 50th Anniversary
When it was first published in 1962, The Norton Anthology of English Literature introduced students and professors to 1,340 years of the English literary tradition, from Caedmon's Hymn (mid 600s) to Dylan Thomas (1940s). Since then, the NAEL has been read and cherished by about 15 million students of English and has been assigned on all continents except Antarctica; it is currently taught at 80-90% of colleges that offer English courses in North America. The anthology still starts with Caedmon, but now, in its 9th edition, has worked its way up to Zadie Smith. Along the way, it has defined and redefined the canon, presenting many new writers through the ages and broadening our understanding of literature in English. "The influence of the Norton Anthologies has been vast," writes Pulitzer Prize winner Stephen Greenblatt, now General Editor of the NAEL. "They have shaped the reading experience of students, of scholars, and of the culture at large. And in a quiet but important way, they have served language and the imagination, by making the whole rich tradition of literature accessible to a diverse audience." Prof. Greenblatt and the NAEL's founding General Editor, literary scholar M.H. Abrams (now 100 years old), discuss the Anthology in The New York Times Book Review.