We explain what an anthology is, how it is classified and the criteria it must follow. Also, what are its characteristics and examples.

What is an Anthology?

An anthology is known as a compilation of texts or works, usually written , that stand out for some common characteristic, referring to their authorship, their subject matter, their origin, etc. This term is used more than anything in the literary field, but there may also be musical anthologies, films, etc.

Every anthology revolves around a criterion , that is, a spirit that unifies and gives meaning to the sample, and that is defined by the selector, who is called an anthologist or anthologist.

They are usually made up of published or already broadcast works , or fragments of them, so an anthology can be understood as a compilation or sample book.

Its use is frequent to offer momentary panoramas of a certain artistic discipline , as well as to collect the best pieces of the same creator.

Characteristics of an anthology :

  1. common ground

Every form of anthology, however, is ordered based on a common criterion, which serves as a basis beyond the genre of the chosen material.

Thus, for example, one can speak of an anthology of new poets , if said selection deals with poetry writers not published within the framework of a specific period; but also from Afro-American musicians of the 1920s, or from a selection of letters written between one renowned filmmaker and another.

In any case, the important thing is that the basis of the anthology is clear so that its readers know what they are facing.

  1. Anthology Types

anthology types

Anthologies are usually classified based on the object they deal with, thus being able to define musical anthologies, film anthologies or literary anthologies, for example, and within the latter there are poetic, narrative, essay anthologies, etc., according to the specific genre which they deal with.

  1. Criteria for an Anthology

As has been seen, an anthology can vary a lot in its approach, but some of the most frequent can be:

  • Chronological . It brings together a sample with a historical, chronological sense, which recomposes the specific history of the field studied.
  • Panoramic . It brings together material from different sources around the same theme, topic or discipline, offering the reader a broad view of the matter at the specific time.
  • Staff . Those anthologies that compile the best of the work of the same author or performer.

  1. Etymology

The word “anthology” comes from the Greek anthologia , which means “selection of flowers” . It is made up of the words anthos (“flower”) and leghein (“to choose”). Initially it was about something linked to the flower arrangement, an image that derived as a metaphor for the choice of the most beautiful or the best quality of an author or a specific discipline.

  1. Diversity


Most of the anthologies obey a different criterion, that is, they bring together works from multiple sources , although this criterion is always defined later by the anthologist.

In the case of personal anthologies, for example, the best of a specific playwright's work will be chosen from one author's published works or available material ; while a chronological anthology can collect material representative of the exponents of a genre over time.

  1. Compiler input

Compiler input

In addition to the selection of the collected material, an anthology usually includes notes, comments, critical readings and didactic material by the anthologist, in which the details of his selection appear, his reasons and criteria are explained or the reader is provided with information necessary to understand the selection offered to you in your context.

  1. Importance

Anthologies represent an important didactic tool in the study of the different areas of knowledge , since they allow a topic to be approached from a variety of sources that otherwise would have taken a long time to choose.

The same allows you to delve into the work of an author , through a selection of his most important journey, than into an era or a historical period.

  1. The anthology as a genre

In many cases there is debate as to whether the anthology could operate as a literary genre , and many writers have used it to produce important pieces. This is the case of the Chilean Roberto Bolaño, who wrote Nazi Literature in America (1996), a fictional anthology of American writers committed to the ideals of Hitler , for example.

  1. Anthology Limits

Anthology Limits

Every anthology has limits, that is, it covers a segment of its field of study and abandons or ignores the rest , so none should be taken as an exhaustive and complete sample on the subject. Every anthology is a clipping, a selection, and does not intend to exhaust the subject it deals with, but merely serves as a sampler.

  1.  Anthology Examples

Some examples of anthologies are:

  • Anthology of the Venezuelan story (1955). Guillermo Meneses (comp.). Ministry of Education of Venezuela , Caracas.
  • From the painting. Anthology of essays on art and painting (2014). Juan Garcia Ponce (author). Francisco Castro Leñero (selection and prologue). Edit. Fictional, Mexico .
  • Anthology of aesthetics in Mexico in the twentieth century (2006). María Rosa Palazón Mayoral (comp.). UNAM, Mexico.
  • Argentine musicians. First Anthology . (2014). Maria Neder. The Shire Editions, Buenos Aires .

The above content published at Collaborative Research Group is for informational and educational purposes only and has been developed by referring to reliable sources and recommendations from experts. We do not have any contact with official entities nor do we intend to replace the information that they emit.


Cultural journalist with great interest in education and technological innovation in the classroom. The future passes through technology and it is already here. .

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