My Halloween selection is Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray. Join me in exploring the darker side of beauty and human nature. I’ll be reading online using DailyLit.com’s service. They email the book selection of your choice a segment at a time at intervals you determine. Registration is free and many of the several classic titles at the site, particularly those in the public domain, are available for free. More current publications are also available for a nominal fee. Please, read along with me and join in the discussion of The Picture of Dorian Gray beginning this Friday. I’ll post discussion questions each Wednesday and Friday in the comments section, that way we can keep all of questions and responses for each week together. The first batch of questions will relate to chapters 1-3.
You can also read my weekly commentary about the monthly classic beginning this Friday at A Conservatory of One: Exploring the Writing Craft and Life.
A classic is a story, a play, a poem, a novel even a piece of choreography that deals in universal truths and experiences, birth, death, love, vengeance and its costs, the thrill of attaining a goal–sometimes closely followed by disillusionment, etc. A classic also becomes known as such, because it communicates these ideas and experiences in a unique and if not unique virtuoso style. Alas, every classic which lasts beyond the era which first knew it becomes subject to the ravages of time and in turn translation, the ultimate English language example being Shakespeare. It’s not that the work is no longer a classic, but instead that the work has lost a sense of poignancy for the generation which currently serves as its audience; the history and the experiences which shaped the work have become lost and the work in turn falls from grace. So paradoxically, a classic work may find that it has a shelf life–unless the generation which first received it and those following, make the effort to ensure its continuity and thus the lessons and ideas offered through it for the next.
What do you think makes a classic?
Which classic literary work or works are your favorite Wuthering Heights, The Count of Monte Cristo, The Ambassadors……? Leave a comment and let me know so we can get started blogging the classics.
This post originally appeared on A Conservatory of One (See Link list).