Norton anthologies have long been the standard for college and university students. They’re also excellent choices for the autodidact who wants to acquaint him or herself with the literary canon.
There are many versions and many editions of these volumes. We’ll take a look at some of them so you can find the one that suits you best.
The links will take you to Amazon for the current price. The newer editions are expensive. If you don’t need a specific edition for a class, I suggest looking for an older one. If you need the access codes be sure to confirm you’re getting them before buying. A used copy or older edition might not include them.
The Norton Anthology of English Literature
This is the big one. It’s the highest-selling Norton anthology of all time. The latest edition is the 10th.
It’s a six-volume series, sold in two sets of three. Package 1 includes volumes A, B, and C.
Volume “A” is The Middle Ages, which includes Anglo-Saxon, Irish, Anglo-Norman, and Middle English Literature in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries.
Volume “B” is The Sixteenth Century and The Early Seventeenth Century. The headings under The Sixteenth Century include “Faith in Conflict”, “Women in Power”, “An Elizabethan Miscellany”, and “The Wider World”, as well as author sections. The headings in The Early Seventeenth Century include “Gender Relations: Conflict and Counsel”, “Inquiry and Experience”, “Crisis of Authority” and author sections.
Volume “C” is The Restoration and The Eighteenth Century. The headings include “Print Culture and the Rise of the Novel”, “Debating Women: Arguments in Verse”, “Liberty” and author sections.
Package 2 includes volumes D, E, and F.
Volume “D” is The Romantic Period. The headings include “The Slave Trade and the Literature of Abolition”, “The Revolution Controversy and the ‘Spirit of the Age'”, “The Gothic and the Development of a Mass Readership”, “Romantic Literature and Wartime”, “The Romantic Imaginations and the ‘Oriental Nations'” and author sections.
Volume “E” is The Victorian Age. The headings include “Pre-Raphaelitism”, “Victorian Issues”, “Late Victorians” and author sections.
Volume “F” is The Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries. The headings include “Voices From World War I”, “Modernist Manifestos”, “Voices From World War II”, “Nation, Race, and Language” and author sections.
The Norton Anthology of American Literature
This is another very popular one. It’s packaged in two sets of two and three volumes. The latest edition is the 9th.
Package 1 includes Volumes A and B.
Volume “A” is Beginnings to 1820. The headings include “Native American Oral Literature”, “First Encounters: Early European Accounts of Native America”, “American Literature and the Varieties of Religious Expression”, “Ethnographic and Naturalist Writings”, “Native American Eloquence: Negotiation and Resistance” and author sections.
Volume “B” is 1820-1865. The heading include “Native Americans: Removal and Resistance”, “Slavery, Race, and the Making of American Literature”, “Science and Technology in the Pre-Civil War Nation” and author sections.
Package 2 includes volumes C, D, and E.
Volume “C” is 1865-1914. The headings include “Voices From Native America”, “Realism and Naturalism”, “Becoming American in the Gilded Age” and author sections.
Volume “D” is 1914-1945. The headings include “World War I and its Aftermath”, “Modernist Manifestos” and author sections.
Volume “E” is Literature Since 1945. The headings include “Postmodern Manifestos”, “Creative Non-Fiction” and author sections.
The Norton Anthology of World Literature
This is another extensive anthology, packaged like the English one in two sets of three volumes each. The latest edition is the 4th.
Package 1, Beginnings to 1650, contains volumes A, B, and C.
Volume “A” includes the headings “Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Literature”, “India’s Ancient Epics and Tales” and “Early Chinese Literature and Thought.”
Volume “B” includes the headings “Circling the Mediterranean: Europe and the Islamic World”, “India’s Classical Age”, “Medieval China” and “Japan’s Classical Age”.
Volume “C” includes the headings “Encounters With Islam” and “Europe and the New World”.
Package 2, 1650 To The Present, contains volumes D, E, and F.
Volume “D” includes the headings “East Asian Drama”, “The Enlightenment in Europe and the Americas” and “Literatures of Early Modern East Asia”.
Volume “E” includes the headings “An Age of Revolutions in Europe and the Americas”, “At the Crossroads of Empire” and “Realism Across the World”.
Volume “F” includes the headings “Modernity and Modernism, 1900-1945”, “Postwar and Postcolonial Literature, 1945-1968” and “Contemporary World Literature”.
The Norton Anthology of African American Literature
This is a more specialized anthology that’s popular for African American literature courses, divided into two volumes. The latest edition is the 3rd.
Volume 1, Beginnings Through the Harlem Renaissance, includes the headings “The Vernacular Tradition”, “The Literature of Slavery and Freedom 1746-1865”, “Literature of the Reconstruction to the New Negro Renaissance, 1865-1919” and “Harlem Renaissance, 1919-1940”.
Volume 2; Realism, Naturalism, Modernism to the Present, includes the headings “The Vernacular Tradition, Part 2”, “Realism, Naturalism, Modernism, 1940-1960”, “The Black Arts Era, 1960-1975” and “The Contemporary Period”.
The Norton Anthology of Literature by Women: The Traditions in English
This two volume set features the work of over 200 women writers from all over the world, spanning six centuries. The latest edition is the 3rd.
Volume 1 includes the headings “Literature of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance”, “Literature of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries”, “Literature of the Nineteenth Century” and “Turn-of-the-Century Literature”.
Volume 2 includes the headings “Early-Twentieth-Century Literature” and “Later-Twentieth-Century and Contemporary Literature”.
The Norton Introduction to Literature, Portable 13th Edition
Here’s another popular anthology full of quality reading and writing instruction. This is the latest edition.
The headings include “Fiction”, “Poetry” and “Drama”.
The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction
As a big short story reader, this anthology is the most to my taste. Any short story fan loves to see 73 selections in an anthology. This one contains many of the frequently anthologized short stories we see as well as some rarer selections. The latest edition is the 8th.