No David not impossible Difficult maybe but there's always a way. Its not a matter of keeping the books away from them, just explaining what you want from them. Communication is key, be creative about the whole situation. A form of a game, kids love games!
This is a great question. It really is so hard to predict what will become a classic.
I think your additional thoughts are very useful ones, @JenniferD: for the purposes of this forum I've suggested a classic is any text by a dead author. But I suppose what we're really talking about here is the 'canon' - books by dead authors that actually continue to be read and valued. Of course every literary critic under the sun has had an opinion on what texts are canonical and which aren't, and those opinions have been very influential: many of the classic authors we hold dear today we only even know the names of because some university professor decided everyone should know about them! Think Harold Bloom for e.g.
I think, or at least I hope, that going forward works from authors of different cultures, races etc. will be considered classics much more. The canon at the moment comprises mostly of dead male Europeans - which isn't to say that a lot of their work doesn't speak well for the entirety of human experience - Shakespeare, of course, is applicable in just about every culture and situation because he was so good at distilling universal human characteristics. But I think most people would agree with #WeNeedDiverseBooks.
My best guess at what will become canonical texts in the future: 1) books that represent the experiences of diverse ethnic and social groups. 2) Books that appear frequently on internet lists! This sounds like a silly one, but I do think social media will have an impact on what books we value in the centuries to come. More than ever before we know what everyone else is reading, and I think the books that continue to stay on "Best Books of the 21st century" style lists will be the ones we will continue to value 100 years from now. Book bloggers may just replace professors in influencing what we continue to read -- perhaps we Rifflers are shaping the future canon!!!
Interesting you mention Bloom ... he's a terribly pompous figure, but he does have insightful and useful observations. Here's one that I find fascinating and which pertains to this discussion, his definition of what makes a literary work canonical: "The answer, more often than not, has turned out to be strangeness, a mode of originality that either cannot be assimilated, or that so assimilates us that we cease to see it as strange." Shakespeare is the quintessential example of the latter. I can't recall what he threw into the first category -- Dante? But I would say books published today that are most likely to become canonical are those that employ the extraordinary use of language to capture our wildly contradictory and bizarre zeitgeist: The decay of American democracy, the inevitable collapse of industrial capitalism and our ecological crisis, and the triumph of technology. Either a book that captures it, or perhaps one that shows us the way forward. I wouldn't have the slightest idea how to write such a novel (or any novel), but I'm confident someone out there is toiling away at it.
Hi! I'm Mery from Argentina. When I was a kid we read The Little Prince with my mom and it was amazing. I grew up discovering what Saint-Exupery meant when he wrote it.
The Once and Future King by T.H. White.
The Outsiders, Pride and Prejudice, The Tempest, Villette, Nicholas Nickleby and Great Expectations all affected me in one way or another. Once I read Pride and Prejudice I moved on to read all of Austen's works. After that, I was hooked. I went on to study literature (mainly Brit Lit) and have seen just about every version of Pride and Prejudice I could find. The Colin Firth/Jennifer Ehrle version is still my favorite, but I did also really enjoy the Bollywood version - Bride and Prejudice.
Hi @BookBroad! I haven't seen or even heard of Bride and Prejudice, but I'll definitely have to check it out! I've loved every Austen adaptation that I've seen, so I'm sure that this one would be no exception.
The Odyssey is one of my favorite all time stories. I had a simplified version as a child and read the real one as a teen. Then I started getting into The Illiad as well. Over the years I have read more stories about heroic feats like Beowulf ... Epic of Gilgamesh ... Táin Bó Cúailnge ... Saxon romances ... Norse hero tales.
Great picks! Have you been able to read any of those works in the original Greek or Old English? I took a course in Latin a few years ago and it was amazing to look at some of Ovid's poetry as it was written. I'd really recommend looking even at some other English translations if you're interested since the interpretations can vary so widely.
No, I do not know Greek, Babylonian, Gaelic, or Scandinavian. I have read Beowulf in Old English and Le Morte D'Arthur in Middle English. And I've read three different English translations of the Illiad and four of the Odyssey.
for me it is Tolstoy and his books. Read it in Serbian, that is a bit closer linguistically to Russian, so minimal loses in translation. His work is just amazing.
Hi! I'm Maria! It's hard to pick just one novel here, so let me choose two: AS I LAY DYING (Wm Faulkner) and THE POWER AND THE GLORY (Graham Greene).
Hello, I'm Myles and I'm a bookseller in VT in the US.
@BookBroad Villette always tops my list of influential classics, more than any other book I'd read up to that moment, a year or two into college, it made me feel like there was something personal to be gained from an old work of literature, something real and relevant to my daily life. It was one of the best reading experiences of my life.
I have to say also that e.e. cummings' The Enormous Room is one that I still think about at least once a week even if it has been years since I last re-read it!
Welome, Myles! I hope you will enjoy the Riffle community! I love how you describe the value of older works of literature!!
Hi. My name’s Jasmin, and I’m not really a die-hard fan of classic novels but I’ve read Dumas’s Count of Monte Cristo, and the novel has completely changed my perspective of life.
I’m Janine and I have read and loved many Classics, top choices being David Copperfield, Oliver Twist and Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, the Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck and Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.
I also like some modern books that make use of characters from Dickens’ stories, like Havisham by Ronald Frame, Jack Dawkins by Charleton Daines and Mr. Timothy by Louis Bayard.
Excellent choice of words Janine. Have you read Herman Melville’s Moby Dick? I’ve heard so many great things about that novel from friends, relatives, and such. Maybe if there was a book club over here, I’d be first to jump aboard to read it. Just a thought.
in fact, we DO have a book club over here!! we’d love for you to come join us!! (folder linked below)
so far, we’ve been focusing on more contemporary books, but i have certainly considered mixing in some classics and nonfiction too. (though moby-dick may be a bit too long for our format.)
i have read moby-dick, and LOVE it so much. i have found, in hearing people’s comments on it over the years, that the book seems to divide readers. melville has some chapters dedicated to whaling, apart from the story he is telling. i have heard a lot of people say they really disliked those parts. i found them really interesting though.
Thanks Jennifer! I completely agree about the novel.
I did read Moby Dick when I was 16 and really enjoyed it. That was the book that set me on a path to discover more Classics.