UT Knoxville English Professor Co-authors Norton Anthology of Drama

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A University of Tennessee, Knoxville, English professor has co-authored “The Norton Anthology of Drama,” the first of its kind to join the prestigious Norton Anthology series used in colleges and universities around the world.

Stanton B. Garner Jr. and his co-authors J. Ellen Gainer of Cornell University and Martin Puchner of Columbia University have produced a two-volume set that features 65 plays ranging from the ancient Greeks to the best works of modern writers. This is the first drama anthology by the publisher, whose Norton anthologies of British, American and world literature have shaped classroom teaching for decades.

Three masterpieces of 20th-century American drama — Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot,” Eugene O’Neill’s “Long Day’s Journey into Night” and Tennessee Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire” — are published together for the first time with annotations and critical introductions for the student of drama as well as for the general reader.

Garner said he and his co-authors worked to bring a variety of perspectives to dramatic history and performance with this series.

“Coming from theater and literature departments, we tried to add our knowledge of these overlapping disciplines by creating a comprehensive anthology of dramatic literature,” Garner and his collaborators write in the anthology’s preface. “Experiencing live dramatic performances and reading plays on the printed page both bring a richness of experience that has always been a vital part of cultures and societies throughout the world.”

In addition to the historical periods and artistic movements usually covered by general anthologies, this set includes Roman drama, classical Indian, Chinese and Japanese drama, and for the first time in any introductory drama anthology, 20th-century Arabic drama — Tawfiq al-Hakim’s “Song of Death.”

Garner said that they wanted to ensure that reading classic plays in translation was a lively experience for everyone.

“We selected vibrant translations of these classic works that speak in a modern idiom while respecting the spirit and sense of the original,” Garner writes. “When no existing translation satisfied us, we commissioned a new one,” frequently working with translators who themselves are playwrights, “to help make sure that the works are not just readable and engaging on the page, but eminently performable.”

Garner’s book also is featured in the online edition of QUEST, a comprehensive research communication initiative showcasing the vitality of UT Knoxville’s multidisciplinary research enterprise and its faculty’s scholarly pursuits and creative achievement. Learn more by visiting http://quest.utk.edu/books/.

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