Day 8 – Should Be a Classic:
Standing in front of my books shelves looking through trying to find a story that should be a classic was extremely difficult. I stopped and thought to myself. How can I find a book that should be a classic without thinking of what exactly designates a classic. Three words came to mind: Timeless, Universal, and Truthful. Timeless – The story should be told so that no matter what period it is read in it doesn’t feel dated. The novel is as if secured on ground breaking stuff. It’s always loved and respected through time. Universal – The novel should hold meaning and should contain emotion, information that all mankind can read, understand, and learn from. Truthful – The novel should ring true. It should teach us about a time period, a place, a condition, or even about a people’s plight. According to Wikipedia, “A classic is a book accepted as being exemplary or noteworthy, for example through an imprimatur such as being listed in a list of great books, or through a reader’s own personal opinion. Although the term is often associated with the Western canon, it can be applied to works of literature from all traditions, such as the Chinese classics or the Indian Vedas.” Yes you saw the words in the middle that are troublesome, at least they are for me, the Western canon. I really feel we should do away with this idea of holding up the Western canon as the standard for literature because not only is it limiting but it’s inaccurate since it mostly contains white men, but that’s for another blog post.
Looking at my criteria of a classic, I can always find books that fall into one or two of these categories but all three is difficult. In the end, I decided to go with Roots: The Saga of an American Family. It’s the novel that has touched the most people men, women, black, white, many nationalities and over generations. It continues to be one of the novels that people read to understand slavery. Not to mention, it did when a special Pulitzer Prize in 1977, although no Pulitzer for fiction was officially awarded that year. So, what novel today would you choose to be a classic? What’s your definition of a classic?