Classic - it's a word that we have all heard when it comes to literature. If you pin that label to a book, I instantly feel a reluctance to touch it, let alone read it. I realize this, embrace it, and then fight against it. I force myself to read so many a year in exchange for a reread of one of my favorite sci-fi/fantasy novels. But honestly, what defines a book as a classic? Popularity? Critical reception? A bunch of old, white guys in a tiny room? *shrugs* Who knows? I like how Esther Lombardi breaks it down on About.Com.
- A classic usually expresses some artistic quality--an expression of life, truth, and beauty.
- A classic stands the test of time. The work is usually considered to be a representation of the period in which it was written; and the work merits lasting recognition. In other words, if the book was published in the recent past, the work is not a classic.
- A classic has a certain universal appeal. Great works of literature touch us to our very core beings--partly because they integrate themes that are understood by readers from a wide range of backgrounds and levels of experience. Themes of love, hate, death, life, and faith touch upon some of our most basic emotional responses.
- A classic makes connections. You can study a classic and discover influences from other writers and other great works of literature. Of course, this is partly related to the universal appeal of a classic. But, the classic also is informed by the history of ideas and literature--whether unconsciously or specifically worked into the plot of the text.
I'm sure that you have figured out by now that I absolutely must share some books that I enjoyed thoroughly that I consider to be "classic". (i.e. I was wanting to read some L. E. Modesitt, Jr. or David Eddings and forced myself to read something that my brain has been trained to "close read" or something I actually enjoyed once upon a time.)
1984 by George Orwell
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Various Works by William Blake
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Sure, I am probably missing something awesome. Maybe I'll think of it later and kick myself. Would you like to help me along? What are some of your favorites in classic literature? Is there anything that you think will be considered "classic" in the future?
I think The Count of Monte Cristo is a fantastic book, in the traditional classics way. And I think the Harry Potter series will be a classic, in a strange non-traditional way.. soon.ReplyDelete
I actually have not read The Count of Monte Cristo yet, but I will probably get the audiobook at some point. There is just something about picking up hardcore literature that terrifies me, even though I enjoy it more than nearly everything else I read. As for Harry Potter, I completely agree that it will be a classic. It already embodies three of the four qualifications listed above, and I have no doubt it will survive the test of time. :-)Delete
I'm like you - as soon as it has the 'classic' label attached, I run in the opposite direction. I've read 5 of the books on your list, but more because of school than anything. Maybe I'll try in intorduce myself to one a month from now on!ReplyDelete
Fave Classics: The Sherlock Holmes Canon, The Three Musketteers, Pride and the Predjudice, Julius Caesar, Huck Finn... etc. I make a point to read them.ReplyDelete
Then there are LOTR and Chronicles of Narnia. :-D
I loved Julius Caesar and Huck Finn, too! I have never read any Jane Austen, and I don't know if it will since it's such a fun point of contention for one of my best friends and myself. LoTR and Narnia will be making their appearances on later lists. ;-)Delete
I am SO bad at reading 'classics' - but then I also struggle with the definition - published more than 50 years ago, more than 70 years ago?ReplyDelete
There are some great apocalyptic/dystopic classics - 1984 and Day of the Triffids are two of my favourites.
I *love* the old school apocalyptic, sci-fi, and the like, too! I haven't read Day of the Triffids, but it's going on my TBR!Delete
Watership Down is one I think of--I still remember the scene of the rabbits contemplating how to get across a stream, and I read it 30 years ago!ReplyDelete
The cartoon scared me so badly when I was little that I never read the book. I suppose I should suck it up and read it if I ever get the opportunity. :-)Delete
Hi Kayla - you hit two of mine: Little Prince (I have it in German and English) and Jayne Eyre. I love Pride and Prejudice (have probably read it five times) and an all time favourite...is JM Barrie's Peter Pan.ReplyDelete
Excellent "C" post.
Jenny @ Pearson Report
Co-Host of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.
Thank you! I keep telling myself that I'm going to buy a French edition of The Little Prince, so I can read it in the original language. I should probably reread Peter Pan - it's been at LEAST 20 years!Delete
1984, Jane Eyre, To Kill a Mockingbird...awesome choices. Former English major here and I LOVE your challenge theme.ReplyDelete
Definitely a new follower.
Thanks! Yours is so freakin' awesome, too! I lurve your C post!Delete