The Classics Club Monthly Meme: October 2012

The Classics ClubThe Classics Club selected a short and sweet topic for the month that celebrates The Sweetest Day:

Why are you reading the classics?

First, why not? I mean, I never really bothered to ask myself why am I doing this. It’s like asking yourself why you’re breathing, and come to think of it, it’s a fundamental question.

Second, I read the classics because they are the foundation of whatever it is that we are reading now. I want to find out who the culprits are. I want to see how things were done before. I want to know where everything started.

Third, I read the classics because I want to make sure that the time I spend in reading will not be wasted. I have this notion that the classics will solve that problem. They wouldn’t be classics for nothing, right? They have survived multiple generations, therefore passing the test of time.

Fourth, I read the classics because they challenge me. We have to admit that some classics are tough to go through. Although there are some classics that are surprisingly easy to read, there are also those that make you think hard. Surely, there must be something out of all the toil.

Fifth, I read the classics because I like the look and smell of old books. I don’t know if that’s vanilla that I’m smelling, but I sniff it anyway. And oh, have you tried listening to the tiny crack that the spine of an old book makes?

Finally, I read the classics because I just love them. That’s the most sincere and honest answer that I could give.

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14 thoughts on “The Classics Club Monthly Meme: October 2012

  1. I love your reasons for reading the classics, Angus! I’m currently reading 3 classical literary works myself: Anna Karenina, Jude the Obscure, and Howards End. I am finding out that Anna Karenina really requires stamina. Jude the Obscure is a bit slow but still entertaining. I am loving Howards End!

    I always find it difficult to categorize books as classics. Nowadays, I just go by the cover; if it’s stated on the cover that it’s a classic, then it’s a classic. Hehehehehe. It’s rather simplistic, but it works for me.

    • I know, but really, if it’s good, it doesn’t matter if it’s a classic or not, right (although most likely, it is, or it will be)?

      We’ll be starting Anna Karenina on Monday! I’m excited. Have you tried Thomas Hardy’s Tess of D’Urbervilles? I read somewhere that it’s an underappreciated Victorian novel.

  2. My own reason for reading the classics would be akin to your second reason. Am not actually reading any 19th century literary classic at present, but I’m exploring works that examine how the canon of classics are determined. Which books are defined by the literary establishment as classics and why others are not? It’s interesting how book publishers keep on expanding the list of authors and literary texts that are now considered as “classics.”

    • Oh dear, that would involve a lot of thinking and research (why this and why that) but it would be really helpful how Penguin and orhers make their selections. Vintage has a series called Future Classics, and this makes me wonder how the publisher gauged the test of time.

  3. Not really, you’d be surprised how whimsical the business of canon-making is and how class, power, and capital has a role in the determination of what makes a literary classic. In fact much of western literature that have been canonized as classics are historically implicated in the western powers’ colonial project of empire-building.

    • Well, I wouldn’t argue with you, haha! I mean, you have a degree in literature and I admit I barely know what you’re talking about. Thanks for the info. :)

  4. Hehehe, there’s no need for any argument at all. All I was saying is the determination of which literature becomes classics is not just a property of its having passed the test of time as determined by present-day researchers and publishers for the love of Literature. No, which social forces are dominant at a certain time and place have a hand in the process of canon-formation which is why most classics are Anglo-American and women are clearly underrepresented. :)

  5. “I read the classics because they challenge me.” << this is also one of my reasons of reading classics. And I agree with being sure that we are not spending time reading some rubbish. Classics has spoken for itself for it has survived for generations. Good points!

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