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Elegant Extracts

Leah Price: Anthologies, 3 February 2000

The Oxford Book of English Verse 
edited by Christopher Ricks.
Oxford, 690 pp., £25, October 1999, 0 19 214182 1
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The Norton Anthology of English Literature: Volume One 
edited by M.H. Abrams and Stephen Greenblatt.
Norton, 2974 pp., £22.50, December 1999, 0 393 97487 1
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The Norton Anthology of English Literature: Volume Two 
edited by M.H. Abrams and Stephen Greenblatt.
Norton, 2963 pp., £22.50, February 2000, 9780393974911
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The Longman Anthology of British Literature: Volume One 
edited by David Damrosch.
Longman, 2963 pp., $53, July 1999, 0 321 01173 2
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The Longman Anthology of British Literature: Volume Two 
edited by David Damrosch.
Longman, 2982 pp., $53, July 1999, 0 321 01174 0
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Night & Horses & The Desert: An Anthology of Classical Arabic Literature 
edited by Robert Irwin.
Allen Lane, 480 pp., £25, September 1999, 0 7139 9153 4
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News that Stays News: The 20th Century in Poems 
edited by Simon Rae.
Faber, 189 pp., £9.99, October 1999, 0 571 20060 5
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Time’s Tidings: Greeting the 21st Century 
by Carol Ann Duffy.
Anvil, 157 pp., £7.95, November 1999, 0 85646 313 2
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Scanning the Century: The Penguin Book of the 20th Century in Poetry 
edited by Peter Forbes.
Penguin, 640 pp., £12.99, February 1999, 9780140588996
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... Anthologies attract good haters. In the 1790s, the reformer Hannah More blamed their editors for the decay of morals: to let people assume that you had read the entire work from which an anthology piece was excerpted, she warned girls, was no better than lying outright. In the 1840s, less predictably, Engels took time out from The Condition of the Working Class in England to sneer at the anthologies littering the sofa tables of the Manchester bourgeosie ...

Why edit socially?

Marilyn Butler, 20 October 1994

Lord Byron: The Complete Poetical Works, Vol. VII 
edited by Byron.
Oxford, 445 pp., £52.50, March 1993, 0 19 812328 0
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The New Oxford Book of Romantic Period Verse 
edited by Jerome McGann.
Oxford, 832 pp., £25, April 1993, 0 19 214158 9
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... The Norton Anthology, edited for this period by the senior Wordsworthian, Cornell’s M.H. Abrams, centres on Wordsworth and particularly on his poetry of introspection or soul-making. McGann’s selection up-ends the Norton’s modern orthodoxy, by devoting 152 pages to Byron, only 87 to Wordsworth. McGann decorously expresses regret at the shearing ...
The Romantic Generation 
by Charles Rosen.
HarperCollins, 723 pp., £30, November 1995, 0 00 255627 8
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... intellectual and poetic authorities. All the material will be familiar to readers, say, of M.H. Abrams and Frank Manuel, or, on particular Romantic subjects like ruins, Tom McFarland and others. Rosen rambles on and on, quoting not only translations but even the French and German originals, in displays of erudition that make one extremely impatient. Very ...

Wordsworth and the Well-Hidden Corpse

Marilyn Butler, 6 August 1992

The Lyrical Ballads: Longman Annotated Texts 
edited by Michael Mason.
Longman, 419 pp., £29.99, April 1992, 0 582 03302 0
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Strange Power of Speech: Wordsworth, Coleridge and Literary Possession 
by Susan Eilenberg.
Oxford, 278 pp., £30, May 1992, 0 19 506856 4
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The Politics of Nature: Wordsworth and Some Contemporaries 
by Nicholas Roe.
Macmillan, 186 pp., £35, April 1992, 0 333 52314 8
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... to take shape around 1950, to be gradually developed by some of the leading Romanticists. For M.H. Abrams, Northrop Frye and Geoffrey Hartman, the date 1798 retains all its charm because it signifies not an echo of 1789 so much as a correction of it – the true spiritual revolution after the false, material and murderous revolution ushered in by 1789. Harold ...

These Staggering Questions

Clive James, 3 April 1980

Critical Understanding 
by Wayne Booth.
Chicago, 400 pp., £14, September 1979, 0 226 06554 5
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... of pluralism are examined, belonging respectively to Ronald S. Crane, Kenneth Burke and M.H. Abrams. Professor Booth does his best, at terrific length, to reconcile these three different pluralisms with each other, but finally they don’t seem able to settle down together except within the even bigger and better pluralism which is Professor Booth’s ...

Outbreaks of Poets

Robert Crawford, 15 June 2023

The Treasuries: Poetry Anthologies and the Making of British Culture 
by Clare Bucknell.
Head of Zeus, 344 pp., £27.99, February, 978 1 80024 144 2
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... acted similarly. Since 1962, the Norton Anthology of English Literature, edited by M.H. Abrams and others, had held that ‘the medieval period in English literature extends for more than 800 years’ and included Old English as well as Middle English poetry. By the late 1990s, the Norton Anthology had seen off the rival Oxford Anthology, produced ...

Wielded by a Wizard

Seamus Perry: Shelley’s Kind of Glee, 3 January 2019

Selected Poems and Prose 
by Percy Bysshe Shelley, edited by Jack Donovan and Cian Duffy.
Penguin, 893 pp., £12.99, January 2017, 978 0 241 25306 9
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... he was on the money, and Shelley’s most informed admirers, such as Michael O’Neill and M.H. Abrams, have described with rather more sympathy the curious mixture of rational scepticism and exuberant idealism that constitutes his mind. The early work Queen Mab exemplifies that lasting doubleness of attitude in an amusingly stark way: the extensive notes ...

On ‘Fidelio’

Edward Said, 30 October 1997

... metaphysical current in Fidelio is part of a contemporary cultural pattern, well described by M.H. Abrams in Natural Super-naturalism. The age of the French Revolution is one of ‘apocalyptic expectation’, which impresses a whole generation of poets and philosophers, and the composer himself. Yet most of them lose ‘confidence in a millennium brought about ...

Culler and Deconstruction

Gerald Graff, 3 September 1981

The Pursuit of Signs: Semiotics, Literature, Deconstruction 
by Jonathan Culler.
Routledge, 256 pp., £7.95, July 1981, 0 7100 0757 4
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... In another piece of sustained deconstruction, Culler examines some statements from M.H. Abrams’s The Mirror and the Lamp in order to argue that Abrams, one of the principal critics of deconstruction, has himself unwittingly practised deconstructive strategies on romantic literary theory. ...

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