Classics

When we think of “classic” literature, we automatically think of the list of books we were given to read in English while in high school or college. Every book store has a rack dedicated to “the classics”. We accept this list created by “professionals” and call it a day.

I have to admit, I’ve never been perfectly satisfied with that.  A book or other work written a long time ago or “revolutionary” for it’s time does not mean it is a classic.

“A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man” is one such “classic” that is nothing but nonsensical swill as far as I am concerned.

Another definition is a work (literature, art, music) that you come back to over and over, learning something new each time.

I like that definition. So my list of classic works would not be the same as anyone else’s.

The Harry Potter series is on my list. CLEARLY not everyone feels the same way about Harry.

I’d like to offer another definition.

A work that encourages you to learn beyond what is encompassed in the work itself.

I recently was called to be Book Group Leader in my church. This is something I find myself being extremely excited about.

I decided that the first book we would read would be “The Silence of God” by Gale Sears. It is a historical fiction about the only Latter-Day Saint family during the Russian Revolution.

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I was immediately sucked in. The author takes a quite a bit of literary license, but as the majority of the story line is about the next door neighbor, all is forgiven. She gives notes at the end of each chapter and sites any discrepancies and historical facts that were covered in the chapter. This book is more political than it is spiritual and is an interesting parallel to the times we currently find ourselves in.

Not only is this an enjoyable and fairly easy read, but it also gave me a burning desire to learn more about the time period. Another book group I occasionally attend was discussing Animal Farm by George Orwell. All I knew about it was that it was about communism but I figured it would correlate well.

BOY, was I right or what! Again I was sucked in. I read Animal Farm in one day and being able to compare and contrast the two was awesome.

The next day I looked up Joseph Stalin on Wikipedia and read and read and read for HOURS and I didn’t even finish the article.

James E. Talmage’s Articles of Faith, Marx’s The Communist Manifesto and Lenin’s State and Revolution are also on my list.  Hopefully I’ll be able to get them all finished by the time we meet at the end of the month.

So basically, regardless of whether I reread “The Silence of God” or if it collects dust on my bookshelf for the next 50 years, it inspired me to learn and therefore, it is classic.

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5 Comments Add yours

  1. Shauna says:

    I love your definition of a classic. I think that is a much better standard for rating the classic nature of a book than just because someone else said it is. Thanks for giving me something to think about…and something to apply to our homeschool as well.

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  2. Heather B says:

    I love how DeMille says that nobody can tell you what is a classic, because every family has to develop their own list of classics. The experts can guide and suggest, but it will be different for everyone. He also says that the definition of a classic is any work, be it literature or artwork or anything in it’s field, is a classic if each and every time we go back to it we learn more – about ourselves. I love that.

    We have a much broader list of classics than the ‘official’ lists out there. There are books that are are on no list out there that are required reading at our house before the kids leave home, many of them, because of the kind of person that they mold by reading them. And there are some on those lists that will never cross the threshold of our home. Don’t you just love having the freedom to choose the “best books” for your family?!

    One of my very favorite quotes is from Pres. Hinckley in his book ‘Standing For Something’, p. 192. He said, “Emerson was once asked which, of all the books he had read, had most affected his life. His response was that he could no more remember the books he had read than he could remember the meals he had eaten, but they had made him.” The things we fill our minds with, and our children’s minds with, will literally create who they become. Let’s hear it for the classics!!

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  3. Megan B says:

    You had me at “LDS” and “Russian”.

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  4. Jessica says:

    You and I could be friends. I am passionate about the Harry Potter books. I totally agree that they are classics!

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  5. Trista B says:

    What a great definition of a classic! And I would definitely put Harry Potter on there since I’ve read them all at least five times, and after seeing the last movie it reminded me how many deep and thought-provoking those books are to me.

    My SIL told me “The Silence of God” is one of her most favorite books, so I’ve just now borrowed it from her. I’ll have to get Animal Farm as well. Thanks for the recommendations!

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