The anthology wasn’t always the thing we know and publishers love . The first ever anthology was an epic undertaking, a collection of six thousand elegiac Greek poems, collated over the ages from 60 BC to the tenth century AD. By 1856 the anthology had shrunk to ‘A collection of the flowers of verse, ie small choice poems, esp epigrams’ (Shorter Oxford Dictionary), fatally paving the way for this century’s anthology mania.
Faber’s newest offering, An Anthology of Work and Gender, which sounds mildly less entertaining than the small choice poems, has a perfectly worthy brief: to show how certain political realities have been expressed, obliquely or directly, through the ages in literature. The subject is the relationship between the sexes and