From the article:
In case you ever wondered, world literature in anthology form is 11 inches high, 9 inches wide, and weighs 10 pounds, 8 ounces.
The world’s textual creative output in the last 4,000 years is gigantic, a vast cosmos of creation myths, lyric poems, histories, travel narratives, plays, novels, and stories in hundreds of written languages, beginning with cuneiform. It’s an output so big that it defies captivity in print.
But in a feat of thoughtful compression, eight North American editors — with a Harvard professor in the lead — have just released the third edition of a classic initially published in the 1950s. “The Norton Anthology of World Literature,” at six volumes and 6,000 pages, brings millennia of written genius down to the size of a four-slice toaster. At the same time, this compact anthology dwarfs its flyweight Eisenhower-era antecedent, a one-volume compendium of “Western masterpieces” that spanned only about 400 pages.
“We are living in a larger world,” said Harvard’s Martin Puchner, general editor of the new volumes, and our view of world literature should be correspondingly big. Puchner, a world-traveling native of Germany and master of seven languages, is the Byron and Anita Wien Professor of Drama and of English and Comparative Literature.
The new Norton anthology — Volumes A through F — took about five years to assemble, edit, and expand, he said, and in its first year will be used by 50,000 American students. There are hundreds of new selections, along with new maps, illustrations, introductions, contextual essays, and translations. (For one startling example of newness, go to page 171 of Vol. A. You will find a Robert Alter translation of Genesis, 25, illustrated by R. Crumb in graphic-novel style.)
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