Let me begin by confessing that I have edited academic anthologies, and published several chapters in them, so I am guilty of adding my mite of bombast to those miserable magazines of bombastry.
We have the word anthology from the Greek anthologia, which is literally a bouquet or collection of flowers. The metaphorical nosegays that we call anthologies of literature appeared in the Renaissance, and were collections of the “flowers” of classical poetry, epigram and myth. The editors of these anthologies collected texts that were scattered, but also selected texts that were best. It was their selecting of the best that justified the comparison of their collections to bouquets of flowers.
If the modern academic anthology has a botanical analog, it is not a fragrant bouquet, but rather a ragged bundle of hellebore, nettles and jimson weed. The editor of an academic anthology does not collect the best. He…
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