When it comes to defining the canon of English literary greats, The Norton Anthology of English Literature is the world's big gun. Since 1962, in eight million copies lugged across campus by generations of dutiful students, The Norton Anthology has been the who's in/who's out arbiter of what is great, what matters, and what lasts.
Every six years, the anthology is resifted, refined for a new edition. With this year's edition, there's a new top editor as well, for the first time ever. There are also some major changes. "A Passage to India" is out but "The White Man's Burden" is somehow — in!
Hear about the passing of the torch at The Norton Anthology, and the ins and outs of "the canon."
Stephen Greenblatt, Professor of English, Harvard University. He is general editor of the Norton Anthology of English, just out in an eighth edition, and general editor of The Norton Shakespeare. He is author of "Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare" and "Hamlet in Purgatory.";
M. H. Abrams, founder and long-time general editor of the Norton Anthology of English Literature. He is also professor emeritus of English at Cornell University.
This program aired on January 19, 2006.