Are Classics ‘Classic’?

Lets talk about classic literature today.

I’m an avid reader. I love reading and as far as I can remember, have always loved it. For someone with the kind of overactive imagination that I have, reading is like therapy. I don’t have a particular genre I read either, I read everything as long as it manages to capture my attention. So, that being said, I’ve read among other things, several classics. Sometimes for school, sometimes on my own, several books that feature on almost every “Top 100 Classics” list.

After reading this assortment of books from completely different genres that share only one thing that is there ‘classicness’ ,I had one question. What exactly does the term ‘classic’ mean in literature? Does it include just every other good, well-written book, that people liked and enjoyed at that point in time? Or is it actually books that are ever-appealing, ever-hilarious and ever-intriguing? The kind that are always relevant and change you to your very core?

This is where it gets nasty.(Meaning I might just say I don’t like your favourite book) This might just be my age, my sense of humour or the point at which I read these. But these are my opinions and how I felt after reading these. Sorry in advance.

First off, Three men In a Boat by Jerome K Jerome. I felt it was very dragged and slow and there wasn’t much happening . This book is often called one of the funniest books ever written and yes, I agree some bits were amusing but most of the time the comedy just felt slapstick and not that funny. We were asked to read this for school and that might be why I didn’t like it but I struggled to finish it and that’s why its right here(For the sake of one of my friends who simply loves the book.). The issue, I simply deduced was that the jokes, called timeless on the cover itself ironically, were anything but. They felt like they’d lost their appeal to the ravages of time. So, how was this a classic?

Secondly, Catcher In the Rye by J.D Salinger. Hailed and heralded to be ‘ the coming of age story’ every teenager should absolutely read, I was highly disappointed. This was one where the lack of time-less-ness really struck, I could see that it must have been great at the time it was written as I read it, but I just did not relate at absolutely any level. I read it ,but I didn’t enjoy it so much. The question again being, how was this a classic?

Next, My Family and The Other Animals by Gerald Durrell. This book was said to be very hilarious and very timeless but it ended up boring me and being reduced to nothing but a animal fact book. Again, I read this for school so maybe that was why I didn’t like it so much.The question, for the third time being, how was this a classic?

I had began believing that a book being ‘classic’ was just a fad and in all honesty, the best the book could be was a one-time read. But then, I read one real jewel. The one book I call ‘classic’ proudly and maybe there’s more like it that I simply haven’t read. This did what I thought and expected a classic to do, it stirred my very soul. This one being, To Kill A Mockingbird, By Harper Lee. This book was funny, sad, emotional, relatable and respected, all at the same time. It was timeless, truly, it talked about a time and place I had never been in and I could still relate, still laugh, still experience and still be affected. This is one of absolute favourite books and I like it the all the more because it broke my rather concreted belief that classics are anything but classic.

So, to answer the topic, Are Classics ‘Classic’? I’d say it depends on you, the kind of person you are, your age, your mental frame and your beliefs. For all of us, something will be classic, while for others, it won’t.

 

 

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56 thoughts on “Are Classics ‘Classic’?

    1. You don’t have to like something just because it’s a ‘classic’, LOL. People are different. For example, I think the first three above are absolutely brilliant but I never got further than the first couple of chapters in To Kill a Mockingbird, no matter how many times people told me it was brilliant. I’m sure it is, but it didn’t click for me!… War and Peace by Tolstoy, yes, Crime and Punishment by Dostoyevsky, no, no, NO! The Histories by Herodotus, please, by all means, The Great Sea by David Abulafia, yawn. I also hate Picasso but love Goya, so what? It would be a sadly boring world if we all liked the same things! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Hello 🙂
    I saw your comment on community pool looking for feedback. Can I just say, your writing is incredible! The way in which you use words is superb. I absolutely love books so this post was a brilliant read for me. I had never thought about questioning why a classic is a classic before now. Your blog layout is beautiful and really easy to navigate. Great work! I’d be super grateful if you could check my blog out too 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Classics are not based on individual taste but on statistics. We are all individuals and some classics may bore us.
    They are books that have stood the test of time and still remain popular.
    I cannot say what of the thousands of novels written today will last and I will never know. It will be very few.
    One trap we must never fall into is to praise a classic because it is a classic.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. No not everyone ; some make lists and force themselves to read what they don’t like. It stems from acceptance of what society has told them is good for them, they become their own harsh masters.
        I read about this all the time in blogs.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I think a lot of time it’s (the praising of classics) done out of sheer snobbery – wishing to be more sophisticated than one is. Certainly I knew people like that and they annoy the hell out of me… And then there are people who lack the confidence to assert their opinions – for whom it would be great to read this post! 🙂

        Like

      3. Sophistication is not a good addition to character but its attraction is it raises your estimate in other peoples eyes. You are right many cower to what they consider to be expert opinion.

        Like

      4. Sorry about that struggling on an old mobile passed to me by my daughter..
        Often these experts are not so concerned with the plot but descriptive expertise. Having said that the test of time is valid. Its an interesting and pertinent point how much do we follow what we are told.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Brilliant post! I love your thinking 🙂 I have wondered this too and similarly with ‘classic’ movies.

    How long does it take for a book to “become” a classic, as well?!

    I totally agree with To Kill a Mockingbird, if anything is a classic, then that is! The only other book I’ve read which you mentioned is Catcher in the Rye which I did really enjoy, but mainly just because I though Holden was such a kind hearted person and I really liked him.

    I’ve seen the film of Three Men in a Boat and it’s not the funniest film I’ve ever seen ha ha.

    Very interesting article! Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Classic or no classics, any reading for that matter depends on how you interpret them and relate to the age it was written in. Understanding the times and society the author lived in and the influences also helps in interpreting any work. Again, if you read a book once you interpret it based on the review or notes you have read about them. Read them a second time, you may come across some completely different interpretation because you have crossed the line that has been drawn. But again, anything that is popular does not mean it will appeal to everyone and also literature that is not popular are masterpieces. So, in literature, it’s all about interpretations and perspectives.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The best remedy I have for the “mystique” of J.D Salinger is his collection of short stories titled, “Nine Stories by J.D Salinger.” The title couldn’t be less descriptive, and after reading the first three, I understood the omission as a mercy, or at least a warning, one sadly I did not heed. I finished the collection. How’s should I describe my reaction?

    What’s the English equivalent for vomiting in your mouth a little, but from bad writing?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Ironic. A day before the passing of Harper Lee.

    To Kill A Mockingbird is in the genre of classic good and right vs evil and oh so wrong. The most evil of all on display, humanity.

    The tale is in the telling is a truth. This one touches some of humanity’s most vile aspects. This one shames people with the everyday truths of a time that has still not passed for some. While the book is fiction the happenings could very easily be factual and that is the horror.

    The horror is compelling in the lives of just average people.

    This book compels you to look hard and feel deep.

    Yes, “To Kill A Mockingbird” is a classic for the ages. In turn, that makes the book a history lesson we do not ever want to forget.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Catcher in the Rye is definitely a classic for more reasons than you may imagine. But it’s great to be honest and say you didn’t like it. I would give it a try again a few years from now. The term, “classic” is overused, for sure. Some books are deemed “classic” which aren’t, of course. This can be a marketing ploy. This can be a book that has been viewed as easily digestible and easy to teach in class.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I thought I was the only one not crazy about “The Catcher In the Rye”. Reading “All the Pretty Horses” in high school was my preferred bildungsroman reading.I haven’t read “Three Men in a Boat” but I’ll give it a shot.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I totally disagree with your thoughts on Catcher in the Rye. I only quoted the other day on my blog so you could say I’m a fan haha. But I didn’t like it the first time I read it so I can understand why it’s not for everyone. Your post asks an interesting question. I guess for me it’s a book that has lasted and resonates with different generations.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I wish I could have called myself an avid reader, but I honestly only read out of necessity, not pleasure…until I read To Kill A Mockingbird. It struck a chord in me and caused me to think about how I’d been missing out all those years.
    I’m not sure what “Classic” indicates other than it considered to be ranking high in class and standing the test of time. So, what happens when a book long considered to be a classic begins to fail the test of time…is it no longer a classic?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My question exactly.I’m glad that you found the kind of connect with To Kill a mockingbird that I did despite not being much of a reader. I’ve realised that the term classic is relative.A book might be beginning to fail the test of time even now,but no one wants to admit it simply because it is ‘classic.’

      Liked by 1 person

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