I just picked up the Norton Anthology of English Literature (fifth edition) at a used bookstore.
It’s got stuff from pretty much every English author of the last six hundred years — not comprehensive, of course, but certainly representative.
Just from the table of contents: Caedmon’s Hymn, Beowulf. Chaucer (Canterbury Tales). Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Piers Plowman. Margery Kempe. Sir Thomas Mallory (selections from Morte Darthur). Sir Thomas More. John Skelton. Sir Thomas Wyatt the Elder. Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey. Sir Philip Sidney. Edmund Spencer. Sir Walter Raleigh. Christopher Marlowe. William Shakespeare (mostly sonnets). Thomas Nashe. Arthur Golding, Mary (Sidney) Herbert, Queen Elizabeth I. George Gascoigne, Robert Southwell, Thomas Campion. Samuel Daniel, Michael Drayton, Sir John Davies. Fulke Greville, Lord Brooke. Lady Mary Wroth. Roger Ascham. Richard Hooker. John Donne. Ben Jonson. Robert Herrick. George Herbert. Richard Crashaw. Henry Vaughan. Andrew Marvell. John Milton (Paradise Lost).
Bacon, Burton, Hobbes, Locke, Newton. Dryden, Pepys, Congreve, Swift. Joseph Addison and Sir Richard Steele. Pope, Samuel Johnson, James Boswell.
And that’s Volume I, up through 1800 or so.
Anybody have any advice on how to tackle this? Got any favorites? Comments? Anybody wanna have an English Literature reading and discussion thread?
I’m not really doing it for anything, except that I’ve not read much of it, and I figure it’d be fun and enlightening and horizon-broadening, and all that jazz. Given the choice between disposable reality TV and poetry that has stood the test of time, I’m choosing the books.
Who’s with me!?