I was in for a big shock.
While reading one of my multiple nonfiction books, I read about a novel that was sparking even more wild and crazy behavior in the 20s. It was called The Great Gatsby. At first, I thought it was a passing faze. A book that nowadays would never be something that anyone requires to be read.
But – and here comes another shocker – I was wrong.
My mom told me that this book was indeed a “classic.” She outlined the plot to me and to my – another one! – surprise, I found that it didn’t sound like a redeeming story. Where was the moral? The lesson? The genuine sentiment that makes readers return every time, every generation? My mom replied that it didn’t need to. This was a classic and that was all there was to it.
In finding out that there were classics I hadn’t read, it was a big, “Say whaaaaaaaat?” moment because I’ve read so many classics – in the sense of generally esteemed older books – that it hadn’t occurred to me, “Duh, of course there are books you haven’t read.” So I started talking to my mom about books I hadn’t read. She laughed. It was another re-iteration of that feeling stated above. And as she explained some more, I wondered: Just why are these considered classics?
When I read Don Quixote, it annoyed me. He kept messing up, he was generally unmanageable, I couldn’t even understand half of what he was doing (for someone living with three crazy siblings, a dog, and a bird, that’s saying something). SPOILER: And at the end, he died. He died! The protagonist of the story died! So why was this crazy (but actually pretty creative; I appreciate it more now) 982 page book a classic?
Why is any book a classic? And who judges what is a classic?
While puzzling over this dilemma, I hope to be accompanied by an ice cream cone, a cozy hammock, and a good – ha, ha – classic. Feel free to suggest things you think is a classic! I, personally, think it’s time to get over myself and try my hand at reading some classic horror stories: Frankenstein, Dracula, the like. What do you think? What classics might you recommend?