Student Review

Article excerpt

The Broadview Anthology of British Literature - Concise Edition, Volume A

Editor: Joseph Black et al.

Edition: Second

Publisher: Broadview Press

Pages: 1,665

Price: Pounds 53.95

ISBN: 9781554810482

A literature anthology is integral to the early part of most English literature students' undergraduate degree programme. A good one will provide both full versions and key excerpts from canonical texts, and place them in their historical context for those new to the study of their chosen subject. This excellent volume fulfils these requirements and much more.

Its editors have succeeded in their unenviable task of summarising the history of English literature in less than 1,700 pages, using a chronological format that navigates the major historical literary movements. The reader is guided from the birth of literature through the Middle English period, and on to the Renaissance and the "long 18th century". Broadview Press has drawn on its extensive publishing list, already popular with students, to provide overviews of English literature's major authors. Also included is a wide selection of lesser- known writers who illustrate a range of diverse cultural voices.

Any new collection will ultimately be judged against the market leader, The Norton Anthology of English Literature. If measured solely on its ability to offer quantity and length of texts, this book falls short of its more established competitor. However, the economy of its language and succinct style may prove more pertinent to its target audience.

The volume's real success is the clarity and conciseness of its secondary criticism. A recurring explanatory section precedes each major literary movement, and contextualises its authors and their works. …