What Makes A Book A Classic?

Friday, October 2, 2015


"Classical books are books that are praised, but never read" -Mark Twain

Unfortunate, but true. Before liking this quote on Goodreads, I had read only a handful of classics myself, a little less than I own. Pride and Pride (my most recent classic read), Little Women (my first, which what got me into reading), the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (though admittedly, that was a school assignment). I own Sense and Sensibility, the Count of Monte Cristo, A Tale of Two Cities, Oliver Twist, and of course the aforementioned books.

As a result of reading Pride and Pride, J (unsurprisingly) have since then had an obsession with classics, which, of course, lead my constantly overactive mind to wonder, what books are considered classical. So I ask, what makes a book a classic? Is it age, authenticity, originality, the credibility of the author, the moral of story? Does the message the author's trying to convey have to be relevant to the generation he/she is writing to (their own)?

Well, in my opinion, its a combination of them all. I also think (in response to the last question) that the message doesn't necessarily have to be only relevant to that generation, it might be relevant to it, but it doesn't have to be relevant to that time. For example: In Pride and Prejudice, the overall lesson taken from the story (at least, to me) is in the name, excess pride and prejudice aren't qualities you want to add to your personality resume. The occasional vanity norm and acceptable, but the two p's aren't very admiring characteristics, as we've seen in the case of Mr. Darcy (whom I adore anyway). That lesson is relevant in any century, any era. Throughout history there have been more severe cases of pride and prejudices that have lead to the downfall of one great empires. But this isn't a history lesson, so I'm going to stop. Anyway, on the other hand, the whole courtship process described in this book, as in many, won't be very useful today (I mean, c'mon, even the word courtship is rarely ever used now). However, the process may have been useful for readers of Jane Austen's time.

Some of the best classics stand the test of time. Even then, some of the more recently published books are considered classics. So, not all classics have to be hundreds of years old, crinkly and yellow paged, even though some are. Classical books are books that are written (sometimes) by well-acclaimed authors, loved and treasured by their readers and passed on to the next generation and so on.

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