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.
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.