Monday, September 10, 2007

WTFQ, Norton?

So, it seems there is a new edition of the Norton Anthology out. I'm sure everybody in the world knew this except me, but I didn't, because I live under a rock, and in any case I drew up my syllabi for this year before I moved to New SLAC Town, and thus had nowhere to tell people to send desk copies. So I've only just had a chance to look at it.

Wait, what happened to Book 3 of the Faerie Queene? They didn't have the whole thing in there to begin with, but this time around they've totally and completely gutted it, with only three cantos left standing. Book 3 is the fun part, dammit! I don't even like Spenser all that much, but even I like Book 3. Who the hell decided this would be a good idea?

They seem to have deleted Margery Kempe's examination for heresy, too. Growf.

On the bright side, there is an online archive of deleted bits -- which is helpful, and means I don't have to do anything really desperate such as forcing my students to read about that bore Redcrosse -- but browsing it makes for interesting and depressing reading. They've deleted so much fabulous stuff over the years! Mankind! And "Sir Orfeo"! And the Franklin's and Merchant's tales, not to mention Sir Thopas. Substantial chunks of The Tragedy of Mariam seem to have appeared in the last edition and become considerably less substantial in this one; "Lludd and Llewelys" and a couple of Marie de France's fables have appeared and disappeared just as quickly.

Oh well. The Norton is eterne in mutabilitie, I guess. Now I just have to figure out what the heck I'm going to do about Utopia now that they've given the students the whole text instead of excerpts. I'd really like to teach the whole thing. On the other hand, I don't want to not teach all the Spenser I'd planned to cover, or the extra Shakespeare play, or... Yeah, too many great things to read, not enough time. (Most of my professors in undergrad sailed blithely ahead and said, "OK, we're going to read it all," and I was generally with them all the way, so I was well into grad school before I discovered that there are limits to the sort of reading load that most undergraduates are willing to consider reasonable.)

Oh, screw it. I think we're going to read it all.


Bardiac said...

It's Miriam, no?

One of the BEST things about my current job is that I don't have to try to teach 900 years of lit in 15 weeks. I am deeply grateful!

I have a friend who swears by the Longman anthology, though. Maybe check that out?

Fretful Porpentine said...

Huh, my copy of the play says "Mariam" (I have the Weller and Ferguson edition). I'm not sure what the Norton says, since I didn't bring it home with me.

The guy I'm replacing is a Longman fan, and he left me his books. There's some cool stuff in there, but also some really strange omissions ... and anyway, I guess the reason why I'm grumpy about this is that I don't like having to get used to a new, unfamiliar book when I know exactly what's in the old edition and have a ton of teaching notes referring to it. So, of course, switching to a different anthology would make things that much worse. Ah well.

Bardiac said...

I'm probably misremembering! And your copy's probably right. (I obsessively just checked eebo, and it shows Mariam too! Sorry!)

Switching to new teaching editions always sucks. Always.

Lea said...

I resent the Norton Anthology for dumping 1 Henry IV. Bah. It's hard to do better if you want representative Shakespeare.

I have a friend who is also a Longman fan; she prefers it on the grounds that it represents Welsh and Irish literature better than the Norton does...

Fretful Porpentine said...

Yeah, the Celtic section was one of the things that struck me as really cool. On the other hand, I just can't wrap my head around an anthology of Renaissance lit without John Webster in it.

I have to confess that I prefer the current Shakespeare selections, but I'm one of those weirdos who refuses to teach any of the history plays until I can teach a whole tetralogy (yay, only four months 'til that happens!)