It’s So Classic.
I discovered this tag through fellow blogger Livia’s post on her blog here. Since I thought I wouldn’t have a book review ready for this week, I figured I’d join in! The rules are very simple, which I took from the host’s blog:
- Link your post to Rebellious Writing (rebelliouswriting.com)
- Answer the questions.
- Tag at least 5 bloggers.
In addition to the tag, we’d love for you all to do your own posts relating to classics! What is your favorite classic book? What are some lessons that you’ve learned from classics? Or, give us your opinions about classics!
To make things easier for us, please link your posts to the comment section of this kickoff post. We will then link everyone’s posts at the end of the party in another post. We look forward to seeing your posts!
1. What is one classic that hasn’t been made into a movie yet, but really needs to?
I’m not sure that this needs to be made into a movie, but the only story I can think of that hasn’t been turned into a screen version is the novella “Herland” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. I think the mixture of a fantastical land of only women, invaded by men and the consequences that come from that, would be perfect for today’s audiences – especially in the #MeToo era. (By the way, Gilman’s short story “The Yellow Wallpaper” has been made into several screen versions, none of which I’ve ever seen. But I’ve read the story, and it is wonderful!)
2. What draws you to classics?
I’m not totally sure, but it is probably the combination of the richness of the language (that many historical fiction writers try to imitate), with what feels like innovative subject matter. What I mean by that is that the tropes written about back then were essentially brand-new ones for the audiences at the time. Today it seems like authors are just trying to use those same tropes and give them modern spins. For example, the star-crossed lovers of Shakespeare’s warring families in “Romeo & Juliet” has been updated and revised so many times, we’ve lost count. But the original is still the one they’re based upon, and that’s the one to which we compare all the others.
3. What is an underrated classic?
I think I’ll go with “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe, even though it probably appears on every list of classics. The reason I think its underrated is because I don’t think its being read much anymore these days, and I think it’s a “must read” especially in today’s world of growing racism and xenophobia. I read it in High School in the 70s, and it taught me the essence of the concepts of white privilege and ethnocentrism. More importantly, it taught me that when we witness something different to our own experiences in another culture, we shouldn’t make judgements about those people by comparing them to our culture or assuming ours is the superior one. Just think about all of the indigenous people across the globe, who were forced by colonists and missionaries to leave their native habits behind and enter into “modern” life in order to “civilize” them, all in the name of helping them. Many of these beautiful and complex cultures and people were destroyed forever in the name of “progress” and good intentions. It makes me wonder about all the disasters we’re witnessing these days caused by climate change. I’m thinking that maybe part of what we’re seeing could have been prevented if the first foreigners to these lands had maintained and learned about preserving the land from the values and practices of these indigenous cultures, instead of forcing those cultures to learn the ways of their invaders.
4. What is one classic that you didn’t expect to love, but ended up loving anyway?
I’m not sure I totally loved it, but I’ll go with “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” by D.H. Lawrence. I’m kind of prudish, and I was worried that all the sex scenes would turn me off, but they were pretty tastefully done for the most part. Plus, there was more to the book than just the sex, so that helped. (I can think of more classics that I wanted to love but didn’t, I’m afraid.)
5. What is your most favorite and least favorite classics?
I guess my favorite would have to be “Catch-22” by Joseph Heller. It is the only book I’ve read more than once, and there’s something about it that whenever people ask for my list of favorite books, it’s always in the top ten (right behind “The English Patient” by Michael Ondaatje). My least favorite would probably be “Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger, not because I don’t think it’s a good book, because it really is, but because I’m pissed off that schools are still forcing kids to read this book. I don’t think its aged well, and I also don’t think that young adults can relate to its characters or situations anymore. This is supposed to be the classic coming-of-age story, and it is – for people my age and older. Surely there are newer books that these students could read that would imbue them with the same values and ideas that “Catcher” gave the previous generations. (Plus, how can we get kids interested in reading more if we force them to read these old, dusty, books to which they can’t relate?)
6. What is your favorite character from a classic? Or if that is too hard, one is your favorite classic character trope (e.g. strong and silent, quiet sidekick, etc.)
I’ll go with the trope here and say that overcoming adversity is something that always draws me to a book, both classic and newer works. I prefer ones that mean the main character has to discover something about themselves in order to reach their goal, especially if they weren’t aware that they were looking for something, and even if they don’t succeed, they’ve at least become enriched by the process. Does that make any sense?
7. What’s a popular classic that you felt wasn’t actually that great?
Everyone has always been just CRAZY for “The Lord of the Rings” books. I tried, and I tried, and I tried to read them, over and over again, but I just couldn’t get into them. I even tried reading “The Hobbit” because someone said that would be a good way to ease me into those books, and that didn’t work either. Sorry, but these books are just not for me.
8. Who is your favorite classic author?
Okay, so… difficult question, but I’ll go with William Shakespeare. Yes, I know he wrote plays and poetry, but his plays are pure genius, and as I said before, the tropes we read in novels written today are all variations on the themes he gave us all those hundreds of years ago. Plus, he knew how to invent insults and swear words/phrases that would sting through the thickest of armors. What’s not to love?
9. In your opinion, what makes a classic a classic?
I think that the biggest factor is that the book makes some kind of a statement that is evergreen and timeless, something that was equally valid when it was written, as it is today. That means it doesn’t age, or feel outdated, even if the setting and life has changed since it was written. You can read Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens today and easily equate the level of greed in Scrooge to wealthy, privileged people we read about in the news every day. You can also compare his treatment of the Cratchit family as being similar to how oligarchs and rich industrialist treat or think about their workers today. (Not to mention the connection between wealth and health.) Is it realistic that Scrooge changes his tune after the visitations? Maybe not. But who wouldn’t wish some version of Dickens’s ghosts to visit a few of those people perpetrating injustices today? That’s the type of thing that sticks in your mind when you read a classic, and it doesn’t matter when you first read that book!
10. Relating to newer books, what attributes does a book need to have in order to be worthy of the title “classic”?
As I said in question 9, they need to make a statement of some kind – one that’s not just a reflection of society relevant only to today, but one that speaks about the nature of humankind in general, across time. If that statement teaches us something about ourselves, about the world, or about how we interact with each other and things around us, then it might be considered a classic. Of course, it also needs to be well written, with characters we can identify with (which doesn’t mean we have to love them or even like them, just understand them). Also, it has to hold our interest from start to finish, with language we can understand, be it poetic or plain. Finally, when we’ve finished the last page, that book will make us stop and think about what we’ve just read and what it means to us, and what it could mean for not just our lives, but the lives of future generations. That’s my criteria, and I hope that makes sense.
Okay, so I know I’m supposed to tag five bloggers, but I don’t like doing that.
Anyway, today is essentially the last day of the tag for this year (although I’m sure they’d allow posts tomorrow as well). If any of my readers can put together answers to these questions real quick and put them up on their blogs, you’re welcome to it. If not, see you next year!