Most helpful critical review
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Acceptable at best, but content does not justify price
on July 6, 2014
Another reviewer mentioned, and I can confirm that YES, most of the material found in this book can be found free on public domains. Or if you are a university student (and likely you are), you can find some of the more obscure material in old anthologies or shelved independently at your library.
Be warned, though: your professor may want you to cite specific page numbers from this book/edition. If that is the case, you likely can't skip out on buying it. :<
Now, because most of the actual context can be accessed for free, the main advantage of buying an anthology would be for the introductory and supplementary material. I need to know background information to place a piece in context-- so yeah, I'd be willing to pay for that.
But I was severely disappointed in the supplementary material (as in, the introduction to the text, eras). The time period introductions were short and very generic. They did not even go into much detail about certain literary movements. Usually with the full length Norton Anthologies (and I have a lot of experience with them) I can use the supplementary material as a substantial source in writing essays-- but this is not the case for this volume.
Also, concerning the author introductions: the advantage is that it gives you a very condensed overview that doesn't take long to read at all, while the disadvantage is that you will likely have to consult multiple outside sources about the author if you want to write anything in detail about either the author or his/her specific piece.
So for those reasons, I have to say that I don't think the content justifies the price. Don't get me wrong, some of the Norton anthologies are amazing and worth every penny (shout-out to the full Norton Shakespeare anthology) -- just not this one.
*Current buyback value from my university bookstore (as of July 1st 2014) was a hearty $21.
TL;DR: Absolutely buy it used. Even if it will take a while to be shipped, don't worry-- it's very easy to find the works included online or elsewhere.
It's likely not worth keeping as a reference material, because the supplementary material is kind of sub-par.
Because of the latter, I don't believe it's worth investing in.
Overall it's not the greatest, but it serves its purpose.