How are we all doing?
From the last time I asked, not much has changed for me. We’re still working our way through some family problems, as a result of that I’ve fallen into another reading slump, and I’m still on the job hunt. I did send off three applications the other day to some local stores advertising for Christmas workers so we’ll just see what happens. At the minute I’m desperate for anything! Although I admit it sucks that nothing for my local Waterstones is being advertised because I would really jump at that opportunity.
Anyway, I am back with my first discussion post in a while and I wanted to focus on classics, and more importantly, what defines a classic?
A lot of us in the book community talk about classics: that we want to read more of them, that we can’t wait to share a favourite classic with future generations, and if we are/were students of English (Lang/Lit), Modern Foreign Languages (especially at degree level) and sometimes History, we throw a passing reference here and there.
Nowadays when I often think about classics, I wonder which modern and newer releases may one day be considered classics. But that begs the question, how do we define a classic?
Before I typed this into Google and started reading various articles, I had three things in mind
- The messages and themes displayed in a book would have universal appeal
- That a book would be able to reach a lot of people at any given time
- That a book can be adapted into various formats, yet continue to retain those recognisable nuances and qualities from the original text.
I also wondered about a book’s writing style, its content, popularity, and its cultural relevance/impact on society.
It turns out I wasn’t that far off from other definitions and personal opinions.
One website I found called ThoughtCo defined classic literature as:
- expressing an artistic quality.
- standing the test of time and being representative of the period in which it was written.
- having a universal appeal by integrating themes that are relevant and understood by readers from a variety of backgrounds – love, hate, life, death, faith…
- making connections with other writers and stories from similar or different periods.
When we say the term ‘classics’ people automatically think that we are about to mention Jane Austen, Dickens, the Brontes, Oscar Wilde, HG Wells, Robert Louis Stevenson etc but we can’t say any of their books are classics because they are older. There is an enduring quality to them that stands out and I believe it is that that we focus on.
You can say that popularity also influences the decision to make a particular book a classic, but I personally believe it is considered in conjunction with appeal and the general quality of the story.
Although, as we all know, quality and appeal are very much subjective!
Many of the books we define as classics also have multiple mass-media adaptations. Nowadays, books are always being turned into films or tv series but because they give audiences greater access to the stories, does that automatically mean they will be considered as classics in the future?
I think if the adaptations live, breathe and endure as much as the original books then there is a high probability the books will be considered future classics.
What do you think?
How would you define ‘classics’?
What books can you see as being future classics?
Thanks for reading and have a brazzle dazzle day!