Broadview Press: Canada’s Norton?

After recovering (somewhat) from my book sale workout I looked over my purchases and was delighted to find that I have stumbled upon what might be the Canadian equivalent of Norton Critical Editions. This is ironic since it was the latter that I was really on the hunt for. Ah, the book-shopping gods work in mysterious ways!

The edition of Pride and Prejudice I bought is from Broadview Press, an independent Canadian company that publishes academic texts, including critical editions of well-known and not-so-well-known works of English literature. The Broadview Editions number nearly 200, which is comparable to Norton’s catalogue in size, but the selection is quite different. In fact I’d say that more than half of these editions were in the not-so-well-known category, and it is part of Broadview’s mission to bring these neglected books to our attention.

The Broadview Edition I bought compares well with the Norton Critical Editions. It doesn’t have Norton’s creamy paper but the paper and printing are excellent, and the supplementary materials (see table of contents) look very good. Unfortunately I can’t compare the footnotes since I don’t have a Norton edition of the same book but they seem to be restricted to explaining historical references, archaic objects, and cultural aspects. The footnotes also indicate where further explanations can be found in the appendices, something the Norton doesn’t do. If I had to choose between the two editions it would probably come down to inspecting the tables of contents online and choosing the edition that has the most interesting extra materials.

Next month Broadview will publish a six-volume Anthology of British Literature, which also includes some lesser known authors and “pays attention throughout to issues of race, gender, class, and sexual orientation.” It is comparable in size, scope, and approach to the Longman Anthology of British Literature. (For the differences between the Longman and Norton anthologies, see here.) I think it’s unfortunate that the Broadview anthology does not include non-British literature in English but perhaps they don’t wish to compete directly with Norton, or else that is just the way Canadian professors of English literature like it.

The Broadview Press website includes a statement (scroll down) on the evils of buying used books (at least for students). They may be right about the economics of it, but if I hadn’t bought a used Broadview Edition I would never have heard of them. Now that I have, I am likely to buy their books new. Perhaps they didn’t make any money off me today but used books make great advertisements.

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