25 April 2021
Progress Continues . . .
Progress continues in many facets and fashions where English literature is concerned. By late 2016, I’d completed not only Pilgrim’s Progress, but enough of The Eighth Edition, Volume One, the Norton Anthology of English Literature that I deemed myself FINISHED with this book. Once the texts entered the 18th century, my interest in any progress of the written English language nose-dived, or nose-dove.
I donated the blue-cloth hardcover tome to a charter school; and I went merrily on my way, to newer antiquated pieces of literature and poetry, some from the French, some from the English, a few from the Russians. I hardly expected that I’d find myself searching to find anew a copy of this Norton Anthology to buy again — until after I’d unpacked all of my boxed-and-stored books in my newly built house.
That date was early March 2021. By that time in modern history, there had taken place tremendous progress in the un-earthing and re-discovery of Western Civilization artifacts as priceless treasures.
A war had been declared upon Western Civilization by roving Online Gangs of Ignoramuses and by Carousing Criminal Ignorami, robotically fomented to annihilate the sight and mention of the creators and geniuses of Western Civilization and English literature (as well as, for some bizarro idiocy, Spanish literature). I therefore embarked this past month upon an exhaustive quest to find, online, another copy of this weighty book that I’d so calmly and nobly donated to future learners of English literature of the Middle Ages, 16th and 17th centuries, the Restoration, and the 18th century.
What to my weary eyes did appear but soft-cover editions of very recent updatings of Volume One of the Norton Anthology of English Literature. We’re up to a Ninth Edition now, with a silly softcover and the usual suspects in on the mauling of medieval literature. Ah, yes! Judicious annotation, revitalization of the original author’s words through editing-by-committee:
6 new editors and 6 seasoned ones.
It’s enough to make a lover of any written language cry!
I did not cry. I first had to forgive myself for giving away a perhaps priceless heirloom. When I purchased The Eighth Edition, Volume One, of the Norton Anthology of English Literature (published in the 1970s), from an online selling platform, it was sometime during the summer of 2012, and the acquisition was a lark. I wanted to read literature I’d somehow escaped while entrapped in the classroom setting; and so I committed myself to the study of the English literature that I’d avoided for decades.
At that time, in 2012, the hard-cover copies of this old anthology had been in copious supply, at very low prices. I might have paid $14.00 for the now-departed book. Come the year 2021, and no one is letting go of any copy of Middle English literature, of any English literature!
What a difference a decade makes.
Used Book donations are drying up, and the prices are going up. The costs to grab a piece of banished culture are rising, rising, rising for those vintage copies of ancient English Literature. I can already see the streaming, screaming film documentary:
QE-1 The Books that Liz Loved to Hate.
I found an online seller of a hard-bound copy of Volume One of the Norton Anthology of English Literature, Revised Edition 1968, Copyright 1962. (Not quite a first edition, but close enough!)
This book is even older than the one I’d donated, with less entries in the anthology. I always say, the fewer chunks of chopped-up text in an anthology, the better. The seller, however, accidentally sent to me a Merck Manual of Drugs, from the 1950’s, which I found enthralling; but I wanted the English Lit. more.
The accidental switcheroo soon got fixed, and I obtained this highly valuable, highly prized piece of progress in the canon of Western literature. The cancellation of cultural treasures has indeed increased the values and veneration of those artistic treasures. I wonder if this revolting turn of classless, illiterate events is a marketing ploy to make Great Books great again?
The march of progress marches on!