Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Revisions

I just opened a box with the new edition of Volume 1 of the Longman Anthology of British Literature. Flipping through it to look for changes, I came across a photo from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It actually has a passage from the film script, too (Arthur and the Peasants).

And people actually ask me why I don't use a Norton Anthology! No comparison.

9 comments:

Bobby Kuechenmeister said...

Kate, How readable is a Longman anthology? I know that reading through 30 Norton Anthology pages is excruciatingly painful and I often fall asleep in the process. Unexplained to me, the Norton Critical Editions are much more readable than its anthologies.

K. A. Laity said...

Hey Bobby --

I find the Longman readable because it has a good mix of lit, history and cultural information. And not so small a font as Norton, either. Lots of pictures too!

I use several Norton Critical editions for teaching, too (as varied as Frankenstein and Chaucer). I think in large part it's because they lack that bland editorial voice that seems essential to the Norton Anthologies. Longman is certainly never bland.

It still annoys me nonetheless; no anthology is perfect. The biggest annoyance is the current translation of Beowulf. Initially they had Kevin Crossley-Holland's which was lively and truly captured the feel of the poem. The one they use now is filled with anachronisms (Unferth is not a "jester" and thanes are neither "soldiers" nor "knights"). I have no idea why they changed -- cheaper? -- but it is the only major problem I have with the Anthology.

Bobby Kuechenmeister said...

Kate, Thanks for the information! I will keep it in mind when I am assigned a teaching assistantship further into my graduate career. I will get a crack at translating Beowulf next year as my MA foreign language requirement.

During the fall semester at Texas A&M University, graduate students may take Old English and then in the spring, Beowulf. The Old English / Beowulf sequence is offered in alternating years with next term being a new rotation.

Martin said...

I own both the Longman and the Norton, and don't look into them nearly as often as I should.

In fact, I'm gonna leaf through 'em right now.

Oh, and on Beowulf - I always thought Heaney was the definitive translation?

Cheers

K. A. Laity said...

Heaney definitive? Perhaps the definitive Celtic translation, LOL. I like Crossley-Holland's for lower level courses. For upper division, Liuzza's can't be beat. It really captures the feel of the original without taking the liberties C-H does (admittedly, to good effect). Heaney's translation is lovely, but too far from the original in language and intent -- I wouldn't use it to teach the story. Among medievalists it is often referred to somewhat dismissively as the "Heaney-wolf."

Martin said...

Ah, well, shows you what I know. Then again, I only followed one course concerning Beowulf. And we didn't really take a good look at existing translations, we created a new one.

Cheers

K. A. Laity said...

Well, good for you, Martin! That's the best way to do it -- although not everybody has the resources to do it. I used to tease my cohorts at UConn because most of the folks in the English Department didn't take classes in anything before Shakespeare. "That's not a degree in English Literature -- that's only Modern English Lit!" I would say from the smug safety of my interdisciplinary degree. I teach texts from every century of British literature -- can't say the same for my colleagues, even now.

Martin said...

Oh, I very much agree - here at our English dept. we very much focused on what you, above, labelled as Modern English Lit.; quite a bit of Shakepseare and everything that followed, a dollop of Chaucer here and there (which I loved), and that was basically it.

The Beowulf course was extracurricular.

Cheers

Martin said...

Ah, man, I misspelt 'Shakespeare'!

Bugger.

Cheers