Anthology refers to a collection of works chosen and published in a single book, volume or support, which are of particular interest among all peers. They can be selected based on their author, style, genre, theme or historical context.
The word comes from the Greek anthos, which means ‘flower’, and legein, which means ‘choose’. Thus, originally the word was used to designate a selection of flowers for a bouquet.
The term is commonly applied in the publishing world to refer to compilations of literary texts in a single volume. For example, an anthology of poems by Pablo Neruda, composed of the author’s most emblematic poems; or an anthology of 20th century Latin American fantastic stories by different authors.
By extension, this term also applies to refer to collections or selections of musical or cinematographic classics. In any case, there are as many types of anthologies as there are interests in gathering different contents in one piece. For example, jokes anthologies, academic anthologies, etc.
Function of an anthology
The anthology’s function is to provide a representative sample of works by a certain author, style, themes or periods, in order to provide the reader with more or less comprehensive and clear knowledge of the subject. They constitute, in some way, a kind of guide and introduction to the fundamental classics, always at the discretion of the editor.
It follows that an anthology always has a didactic purpose, although it does not necessarily address a student audience.
In figurative language, the word anthology is used to highlight the extraordinary and prominent nature of something, phenomenon or person. For example: “The expression on his face was anthology.”
Characteristics of an anthology
- They have a didactic or guiding purpose.
- They start from a unified criterion to establish the corpus.
- The selection process should start from prior consultation from other sources.
- They contain editor’s notes, such as clarifications, explanations, relevant dates, sources, etc.
- They claim to be as comprehensive and comprehensive as possible.
- They allow you to build an overview of the issue addressed, be it an author, topic, gender, style or context.
- Selected pieces are edited according to a common format.
Within the academic world, it is common to develop anthologies as a teaching resource to facilitate access to fundamental sources of consultation on a given topic. These anthologies work as a minimum guide of fundamental consultation texts for the student. They can be theoretical anthologies, aimed at understanding complex concepts; practical anthologies, aimed at solving problems, and theoretical-practical anthologies, in which both aspects are combined.