What Is Classic Remarks?
Classic Remarks is a meme hosted here at Pages Unbound that poses questions each Friday about classic literature and asks participants to engage in ongoing discussions surrounding not only themes in the novels but also questions about canon formation, the “timelessness” of literature, and modes of interpretation.
How Can I Participate?
Leave your link to your post on your own blog in the comments below. And feel free to comment with your thoughts even if you are not officially participating with a full post!
(Readers who like past prompts but missed them have also answered them on their blog later and linked back to us at Pages Unbound, so feel free to do that, too!)
This Week’s Prompt:
What advice would you give to someone hesitant to read classics?
When people hear the word “classic,” they often think of books that are old, difficult to read, and boring. Many people additionally associate classics with whatever texts they were assigned in school–a sure way to dampen enthusiasm for any title, no matter how thrilling. And some people automatically conjure up images of the Victorian novel–a long-winded tome, perhaps Dickensian in nature. But a classic does not have to mean any of these things. At its heart, the label “classic” simply means an older work that people have thought was worthy to remain in print–perhaps because it has beautiful prose, perhaps because it raises intriguing or complex questions, perhaps because, as some would argue it “speaks to the human condition.”
If readers are hesitant to try reading a classic, I would remind them that “classic” is not a genre. Classics are simply books that have been published in the past (there is no agreement on how far back in the past–ten years, twenty, fifty?) and are still around and being read and enjoyed and discussed. This means that classics come in every genre and in every age range. This also means that you are reading classics today–you just don’t know yet that they are going to become classics! You may also already read and enjoy classics–and you just didn’t realize it.
Here are some commonly enjoyed classic books:
- Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (children’s)
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (romance)
- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (romance)
- The Watsons Go to Birmingham by Christopher Paul Curtis (historical fiction, modern classic, children’s)
- Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (mystery)
- The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery (children’s)
- The Chosen by Chaim Potok (modern classic)
- Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling (modern classic, children’s, fantasy)
- The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien (fantasy)
Classics come from every time period. They represent every kind of writing style. And they encompass every form, from poetry and drama to graphic novels and short stories. Far from being esoteric texts no one can understand, classics were often popular with their masses in their own day–for example, Charles Dickens and William Shakespeare’s works were both popular with the common people.
You don’t have to like every classic. Really, you don’t have to like any classic. However, if there is a particular genre or writing style you enjoy, it may be worth looking into the books that were published in the past. After all, books aren’t inherently better written just based on their publication date; older works can be as intriguing or as enthralling as newer ones. So why not give an older book a chance?