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Anthologies

  • Anthologies are mischievous things. Some years ago there was a rage for chemically predigested food, which was only suppressed when doctors pointed out that since human beings had been given teeth and digestive organs they had to be used or they degenerated very rapidly. Anthologies are predigested food for the brain.

  • Oh, shun, lad, the life of an author. / It's nothing but worry and waste. / Avoid that utensil, / The laboring pencil, / And pick up the scissors and paste.

  • He lik'd those literary cooks / Who skim the cream of others' books, / And ruin half an author's graces, / By plucking bon-mots from their places.

    • Hannah More,
    • "Florio" (1786), The Works of Hannah More, vol. 1 ()
  • There is usually no dreamer so unworldly as the anthologist. He wanders in a vast garden, lost in wonder, unable to decide often between flowers of equal loveliness. ... The true anthologist has the greatest difficulty in finishing his book. There is always just one more, a new, delicious discovery.

  • There is surely no more unselfish person than the anthologist. For while all we others are striving to ensure our own immortality with eagerness, beguilements, buffooneries, loud voices, 'the sound of battle and garments rolled in blood,' the anthologist is quietly ensuring the immortality of somebody else.

  • ... making final judgements about poets, cities or regions on the basis of an anthology is always dangerous: anthologies are mirages created, finally, by their editors.

    • Margaret Atwood,
    • "The Messianic Stance," Second Words: Selected Critical Prose ()
  • As long as mixed grills and combination salads are popular, anthologies will undoubtedly continue in favor.