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What Makes A Classic?

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).


June 1, 2007 Posted by | Classic Literature, Lists, Revisiting the Classics | Leave a comment