Ms. Darroway. Pride and Prejudice. The Great Gatsby. War and Peace.
These are just a few of the “classic” novels of literature that have been praised the world over by just about everyone it seems: literary critics, professors, celebrities, Joe Shmoe.
They have lasted for hundreds of years because they are the pinnacle of literary genius and are capable of speaking to the hearts of millions regardless of a person’s background – immortality has graced these novels, so much so, that the whole world recognizes them sitting in the background of an overcrowded bookstore.
But do we really love these books like our culture says we do?
Of course, I appreciate what these talented authors have created. Their works are full of wonderful prose and poetry – its no wonder that they’ve lasted so long on writing ability alone.
Now, story wise? That’s another tale.
The plots of some of the “classics,”…I don’t know about you, but they’re not the most exciting or interesting. Don’t get me wrong, I have enjoyed plenty of “classics:” To Kill A Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby, The Dead (which until the epiphanous end, was a trial to get through), Huck Finn, and others.
But some just don’t have relatable characters or stories (like any book). Now, these were written for another time and another audience, but if these books are labeled “classics,” doesn’t that mean that anybody and everybody needs to read them and discover themselves among the pages of literary masters?
What does it mean to be a “classic?” Is it based on number of books sold? The story? The characters? The prose? The poetry? Why are these works the ones that have lived through generations?
Will any modern authors, like Stephen King or John Green, go down in history to take their seat at the literary round table next to Hemingway and Bronte? Or will they fade, their works turning to dust because society and culture have deemed them unworthy of the being the face of a Penguin Classic?
What do you guys think? Do you love/hate/like/meh the classics? Do you refuse to read them? Do you only read them?
On that note, always remember:
Please note: I am not bashing the classics, or saying that they are bad. Rather, I am asking why you think that have endured. Obviously they have to be good to have lived for so long, but why these particular novels/authors? There are a lot of brilliant writers who are not so famous or read the world over. Why give certain titles the brand of “classic?” Ultimately, its left up to one’s personal opinion, but I find that interesting. I find it interesting we are so in love with these books – even people who don’t read know what they are. It’s amazing the impact these works of art have created.
(Love that Hemingway quote from the film, Midnight in Paris..and every other quote he said in that movie)