This article was inspired by the Let’s Talk Bookish topic hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books and Dani @ Literary Lion (and a special thank you to them for making me this new, blue graphic at my specific request. Ain’t it pretty? What could I do? I’m just not into green, yellow, or pink), for the week December 11-17, suggested by Eleanor @ Wishing Upon a Star, which is:
The Writing Styles of Classics and Contemporaries: How do They Compare?
Examples of questions you can answer: “Do you prefer reading classics or contemporaries? What differences do you notice between the two? Why do you think the “classics” have been designated classics and are studied in school? Are there any newer books that remind you of classics?”
These are my personal opinions. I do not expect anyone to agree with anything here, and in fact, I’m certain that many will disagree and/or even hate many of the things I’ve written below. Sorry about that, but you are always welcome to express your own opinions – be they contrary or comparable – in the comments section below. With that out of the way…
NOTE: I’m tweaking this discussion topic a bit. I’m not going to be talking about the classics. Why? Because I don’t believe all old books are classics just by virtue of their age, and I also believe some recently published books are already considered to be classics, and rightfully so. Therefore, I think I’ll discuss vintage vs modern/contemporary writing styles.
Do you prefer reading vintage novels (written at least 40-50 years ago) or more contemporary works?
As a matter of fact, I can’t say that I actually prefer one over the other. Sometimes newer novels can be innovative, and getting to read an ARC before most of the public has had a chance to read something is very appealing. On the other hand, I also like finding out if other readers’ long-beloved novels are works I too can treasure. Plus, finding a hidden gem from a writer of the past can be just as exciting as discovering a new novelist whose career I would like to follow in the future. So, I can’t say as I prefer one over the other, since both have their pluses. Of course, they both have their minuses. Sometimes a newer novelist will write something so strange or unusual that their work could make their stories unpleasant for me to read. That said, writers from the past might use language that is antiquated to make it difficult for me to understand. Either way, I still say they’re about equal for me.
What differences do you notice between the two?
First of all, let me say that I’m utterly grateful to Dean Street Press for introducing me to some vintage British authors – mostly female – that I would never have even known about, if it hadn’t been for their re-releasing them (and their giving me some ARCs, as well). It is mostly through their books that I feel I can discuss this topic with some knowledge.
The biggest thing that I’ve noticed is the language. Not so much the vocabulary, but more the sentence structure. See, (in general) works written decades ago, seem to have slightly more formal ways of phrasing things, less conversational than what we read in newer novels. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a bad thing, but it can make reading older works a touch more difficult than reading newer ones. However, it also makes the prose of older novels feel more poetic, which I love.
Obviously, there are things in newer books that could never appear in older ones – such as modern technology and the like. However, I believe that the basic tropes and themes have always been much the same, no matter when they were written. For example, romance might look a bit different today than it did during the 19th century, but it is still romance – boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl – even if the genders are slightly adjusted these days. People still solve mysteries, but today they use Google while in a previous era they might have to visit a library. Murders are murders, and although forensics have advanced over the years, evidence, motive, and opportunity are still the things that you need in order to prove that someone is guilty of the crime.
In short, I don’t see much difference between books written long ago from those written today, except when it comes to the language and sentence structure of the prose. Maybe you know of something else, but that’s all I can find.
So… what do you think?
Do you think there is a difference between older books and those published more recently?
If so, do you find you prefer one over the other, and why do you prefer those?
What makes you like one better than the other?
This post is also my 22nd entry in the 2020 Discussion Challenge, hosted by Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction and Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight!