It’s often being said by someone or other that a person’s reading life is somehow incomplete or lacking if they haven’t read any of the classics. What do you think? And what makes a classic a classic anyway?
In my opinion, and this is probably an extreme oversimplification, classics survive as classics because they are loved, respected and admired from generation to generation. (Which leaves me with the obvious question – where are these people who have loved and admired The Sound and the Fury, because I need them to explain a thing or two…like everything that happened after page one.)
I went through a bit of a phase of reading lots of classics, and while some have had a deep and lasting positive effect on me (every one of my friends has had Pride and Prejudice or Jane Eyre (or both for the very lucky ones) pushed on them at some stage), there were others that left me with nothing but a few extra frown lines (I’m looking at you Sound and the Fury). So, should we bother?
I’m a big believer in people being left alone to read whatever the hell they want to read and not be judged for it, but I also see the value in reading some of the books that have stood the test of time, if for no other reason than to have a legitimate cause for complaint when they (inevitably) botch the movie version(s).
I’m don’t know about forcing young people to read them though – if someone had made me read The Sound and the Fury when I was a teenager I’m not sure I ever would have picked up a book again.
I think most book lovers will find their way to the classics eventually and, hopefully, they’ll find the ones that resonate with them; despite my extra frown lines, the unbridled joy of Austen far outweighs the scars (both mental and physical) of Faulkner – a life without Mr Darcy is no life for me.
How about you? Do you think reading the classics is necessary?
Categories: Book life