Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Test Of Time

I've been thinking quite a bit about the classics lately. What are the qualities that make them pass the test of time? What is so special about them?

Obviously classics are well written. They have a complete sense of the time and place. They reflect the society as it is at the time they were written. The observations are complete. The descriptions are accurate. The characterizations are true to human nature and psychologically make sense. The plots are unique and intriguing. Sometimes the concepts introduced are extremely shocking and outrageous. I guess, at least they were when they were first published. I expect they created quite a bit of a stir and talk (and maybe banned, tried to be banned, or refused to be published). They stand out among all the other books and were read widely when they were published. By the time they become classics, they become more of a cliche, a norm, a sedate expression. This basically caused by so many others emulating, repeating, and borrowing ideas and themes from them.

Among all the books that are written, they have what it takes to survive, to be read again and again by generations and still have something people can relate to and something they can take from it. Their truth is universal, not just for the moment and place they were written, but in general applicable to the whole of humanity regardless of time.

Whenever I buy a new book I can't help but wonder, will this one be the classic of the future, say maybe in another hundred years or so. Will our children and their children have a chance to see this book and read and enjoy it as much as we are enjoying it. What will it tell them about us, about our life, about our norms, about our conditions, our values, our knowledge?

Who do I think will make it. Well, Harry Potter's probably, I can see a Stephen King novel or two to make it. Maybe some Nora Roberts. At least I hope some will make it. She is a favorite of mine as she is of many. I think Ann Rice's Interview With The Vampire will be there. If nothing simply because it turned the whole vampire literature up side down taking it from simple horror and pushing it towards the romance genre.

There are some I wish would be there but won't be and some I hope will disappear quickly and will remain. Tough to predict the future.

But in any case, I ask you, who do you think will manage this? Who is writing the classics of the future now? Which book is it? Any ideas? I would love to hear them. :D

AC Read

1 comment:

  1. I don't think it's just about the books themselves; I mean we've all read books that are classics but we thought they were absolute crap. And we've probably read books that no one's heard of and loved them, and thought they should be classics. I think what becomes a classic and doesn't has more to do with critics and the people who write and teach literature, and what they like. It also has to do with fashion and what speaks to a certain generation. Look at how popular Austen is now, or Dickens. Not that they weren't classic authors before, but now everyone's reading them. So I guess classics are really created by the readers and not necessarily by the writers.