And deliberately so. Its editor J. C. Squire deliberately contrasts it with Quiller-Couch’s Oxford Book of English Verse or Palgrave’s Golden Treasury. Those were the Norton Anthologies of their day: the canon of recognized poetic genius and all that, the most widely admired and recited poems.
This will come as a shock, no doubt: as an academic, I own some books that I have not read.
There, I said it. Admitting you have a problem, they say, is the first step to fixing it. But what if you have no intention or desire to fix it? What if it’s more a chronic condition than a problem?
My condition is that mix of bibliophilia and ambition that leads me to buy books to complete a set, fill out a series, extend an aesthetic line, and keep each other company. Sure, it’s object fetishism – but that’s justified easily enough. I tell myself that many of these books contain knowledge I might someday read, consult, cite, or peruse. Might is the operative, delusional word there – as if I have to own something to read it.
Let’s put aside the books that are part of my working library, the ones I use for teaching and research. Consider instead this specimen: