norton anthology of english literature

norton anthology of english literature

The Evolution of English Literature: A Comprehensive Analysis in the Norton Anthology

1. Introduction to the Norton Anthology of English Literature

Volume 1 includes works that are believed to be the most representative from the Middle Ages to the early eighteenth century. The series is inclusive of works from several demographic groups including nuns, monks, university students, London lawyers, and actors. As with Volume 2, Volume 1 also includes numerous explanatory annotations. Each excerpt presents the complete, authoritative, and unmodernized text of a literary classic. Except in a few cases, all extratextual annotation is removed because this anthology is intended as a source book for studying the history of ‘great’ literary texts, excluding the history of the texts themselves. Each author has two pages of biographical information. The preface describes the principles of selection or inclusivity that guide the creation of the anthology. The version fulfills both the practical and cultural purposes of providing a comprehensive anthology of English literature.

The Norton Anthology of English Literature is a comprehensive anthology of English works. This work contains the fullest and most representative series of English works available to scholars, educators, and students. The anthology is well edited for accessibility and contains extensive notes that encourage the reader to place the works in historical context. The Norton Anthology of English Literature contains a wide-ranging discussion of British literary works. The editors have shaped the anthology so that certain texts are favored while others are reduced, questioning their policies in a powerful introduction to the anthology. Throughout the composition of the anthology, some works were included and others were excluded, which made extreme efforts to expand the anthology, ultimately renaming the second series of this work.

2. Medieval and Renaissance Literature: From Beowulf to Shakespeare

Medieval literature deals with the values and beliefs of the time. Unlike the present age where memory has surrendered to written words, medieval literature was a marriage of oral and written tradition and knowledge. This age was ignorant in one sense and conceited in another – the former shows itself in irrational beliefs and the latter in feudal pride. British Renaissance literature has a value of its written form, merely the work done in English literature. They had the written form throughout their time. English language achieved a rare flowering renaissance literature. Shakespeare, Milton, Spenser, Marlowe, and Jonson are the featured writers. The analysis will give an answer to how and why did plague break out in Elizabethan England, can Shakespeare’s tragedies be a reflection of contemporary social concerns, what did the Book of Common Prayer for the army reveal about religion in the English Civil Wars. The essay brings coherence to the general reader. These wide-ranging meditations would serve a reader who is at the center of common life no matter what special responsibility he may have.

The language we now call English is considerably different from its predecessor, which we now call Old English. English has become the language of literature, but it is also an international language that unites people around the world. The Norton Anthology of English Literature offers a major selection of texts and a great many essays and illustrations. The anthology has been collected by experts who want today’s reader to enjoy this collection. Old English language (approximately 500 to 1100), Beowulf (approximately 1000), Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (approximately 1380), The Canterbury Tales (approximately 1387-1400), and Sir Thomas Malory’s Morte Darthur (approximately 1470) are some of the major texts in this period.

3. The Rise of the Novel: Defoe, Austen, and Dickens

In the original program that he embraced so eagerly, Daniel Defoe was to have been a successful broker and prefabricated merchant; but an overweening speculator ruined him before he was thirty, and he became arrantly – not absolutely – bankrupt in 1692. With only his pen to rely upon – and the censor silenced that – Defoe began his long and protracted struggles for an honored and financially secure place in the world. For years he seems to have been frantically bored in the struggle, though he worked prodigiously hard at it, and made relatively modest profits. Defoe’s work represents a heroic commitment to certain values which have been difficult to maintain. Defoe wrote at long intervals from about 1678 to 1729. He is much more than the author of Robinson Crusoe, though every literary country would be glad to have given birth to that single masterpiece, and he would quell all discussion by a look at the advance copies of the book. Defoe is a major figure in the power of a thousand cuts, for the abrasively urgent drive of his spirit and ethics is nearly always present, even when the aesthetics tend to be remote.

The novel became a popular form in England after about 1740. This development reflects a greater social tolerance for imaginative expression and exerted an enormous effect on some of the most famous of all English writers. The most popular early works of English fiction are the stories of love and chivalry in Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur (c. 1469), published by Caxton in 1485, and the long, cynical, and amusing adventure of the unheroic hero, Sir John Falstaff, in the two parts of Henry IV. The numerous translations and original works of popular adventure and sentiment which appeared in England during the first half of the eighteenth century were the immediate precursors of the modern novel. Though it is largely the genius of individuals who published novels after the middle of the century that is responsible for the exuberant development of the form, one could argue that the time was ripe for the explosion of a new way of looking at human nature and the human experience.

4. Modernism and Postmodernism: Eliot, Woolf, and Rushdie

Resisting both the story-form and the latently authoritarian discourse associated with it, Virginia Woolf desired to remove worlds from the grip of transposing such raw experience into art. A work as Mrs. Dalloway apparently sought to create a world without tradition, a world of unconditioned experience, a new aesthetic space outside the authority of culture. It is a novel of a single day in the continuum of time. It is a decision between novels as they are and novels as they should be, or between reason and imagination. When Mrs. Dalloway seems to center a novel firmly on the conventionality of domestics, it revolves around the sad life of Clarissa Dalloway and the philosophic order of chaos. In fact, the novel concerns the tension between temporary order and ultimate disorder. The narrative may be rooted in the moment, but such a moment is precariously poised on the edge. The triumph of chaos within Clarissa Dalloway’s story becomes the triumph of chaos within the entire narrative structure that confines her. Woolf’s narrative machine betrays that life is suspended, that everything is surmised or incomplete. Woolf claimed that every writer is a bit of a showman. Salman Rushdie aligns himself with her by embracing the stage of textuality. Most readers have assumed that the audience within Haroun and the Sea of Stories are children, possibly because the narrator is Haroun himself. However, this interpretation is limited by the last line of the novel, which makes it clear that the audience comprises of “practical men and women”.

The modern period is characterized by a self-conscious [dis]juncture with tradition, by radical experimentation in literature, as well as in the social, philosophical, scientific, and aesthetic notions of modernist high culture. Postmodernist writers reject the aim of unmediated communication and instigate a breakdown of the distinction between high and low culture. Modernism arises from the acute intellectual crisis that followed the traumatic terrors of World War I. Both modernism and postmodernism represent a rebellion against the truths forced upon us, the limits established around knowledge, the rational psyche. Struck by the destruction and devastation of the First World War, T. S. Eliot in his works best understood the condition of annihilation and loss that characterizes our morale in the cancerous social body of Western civilization and of which. His The Waste Land is an apocalyptic and prophetic vision which incorporates the fallenness associated with a world of doubt, desolation, and broken symbols.

5. Contemporary Voices: Atwood, Coetzee, and Adichie

Too often, world literature is only a polite euphemism for third-world literature. The common intention of stories from nations such as India, South Africa, or Nigeria is to convey to a more fortunate world the struggles and suffering of less fortunate men and women. These stories of hardship and pain should find an honored place in world literature; truth and honesty and unflinching depiction are never negative qualities. But we should not categorize their authors exclusively within a formula that speaks only of pity for contemporary social wrongs at the expense of the deeper complexities of nationhood, the assimilation of old and new culture, and the nature of the human condition.

One could argue that contemporary literature has split into two distinct camps: the literary novel and the novel designed as a best-seller. The possible requirement of keeping a reader entertained for an entire airplane flight has caused innumerable books to become enlivened more with incident than with characterizing detail, more with storytelling elasticity than with literary craftsmanship. In a genre book, the author must give the reader what he or she expects to find, and the market often dictates what that is. The literary author, whose success is not usually measured in direct dollar return but in glowing reviews, prizes, and insights into the human psyche, requires no such obligation to a commercially approved norm. In order to keep fascinating an audience which, due to the weight of education and critical thought, expects writing to have the same weight, authors must test their readers, confront them with subject matter that is awkward or startling, consider subjects that go against the grain of textbook didacticism or popular interest.

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