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Classic Books





Tiger
I was wondering if anyone still reads classic books?

Most people have heard of Charles Dickens, Edgar A. Poe, and even Ernest Hemmingway, and remember titles like "King Solomons Mines". But does anyone actually read these books after school?

I know that "The Old Man and the Sea" was made into a film, as was "King Solomons Mines", and I once saw "She" on TV, but are these kind of books still interesting to people? I recently downloaded some books from Project Gutenburg, and I think that they are definitely worth reading. At the moment, I am interested in books by H. Rider Haggard.

I would hope that classic books aren't just for film-makers. Some of them are still excellent reads.
Grimboy
I read Tresure Island, The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings those are all kind of classic litirature. In other news I can't speel.
digressive
Of course people still read them. My wife and I have shelves upon shelves upon shelves of "classic" books. Of course, we both have advanced degrees in English Literature, so we might not be a good example. I think a lot of people are just going for something easy to read so they can say that they read. And don't even get me started on things like DaVinci Code *shudders*
Tiger
digressive wrote:
And don't even get me started on things like DaVinci Code *shudders*


Actually, I'd love to hear your opinion on the DaVinci Code. Why does it make you shudder for example? I have not read the book myself, but I have heard quite a lot about it.

I usually read far more non-fiction than fiction, and I am sure that many modern writers who write books like the DaVinci code use their skills to create 'believeable' works of fiction.

The human mind is an intricate and complicated thing, and I find it fascinating to see what excites people in terms of literature. Harry Potter is another phenomenon taking the world by storm.

I think the common elements in the above two books, would be that they contain bits of realism, thrown in with bits of fiction and some fantasy, creating the ultimate escape for stressed minds! In this stress filled world, they are simply the best way to escape from the real world, allowing the reader to relax.

Of course, the classics did the same for readers of their time, and most still do today. I think that the most successful books are those that are 'ageless and have universal appeal.
akshar
Why the books are called CLASSICS because they are immortal. They represent the development of the whole human race not technological bu imotional and philosophical.

That is why Shaks* and Ramayan Mahabharat are still read today.

May it be 'Tale of Genegi' or 'Problems in philosophy' the books are just not to entertain or increase our knowledge it's a treasure that will guide several generations to come.
sprinqles
The classic book I enjoyed the most was 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. Sometimes I feel like people aren't much into classic lit anymore. Which is a bit saddening.
rakeshkumar
reading shakespeare

Merchant of Venice
Tiger
sprinqles wrote:
The classic book I enjoyed the most was 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. Sometimes I feel like people aren't much into classic lit anymore. Which is a bit saddening.


I agree with you. Outside of school, how many people do most of us know who actually read the great classics on a weekend when they want a good book?

I think that most people now would watch the stories on TV or at the movies, rather than read the book. Even then, the film versions would probably contain quite a bit of artistic license. More often than not, directors tend to dispense with accuracy.

One of the more 'modern' classics turned into a film recently is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I wonder how many of those who watch the movie will actually read the book. It would be interesting to read the statistics. Do movies like this encourage reading or replace it?
EtherealDesert
Well, within my field everyone reads classics. If it's not a classic, then it's a sure-thing-going-to-be-one Wink People from Danish, as well as the other language fields are also devout readers of so called classic literature. But when it comes to the mainstream readers, I'm not quite sure whether they read or meerely eat (ha ha ha - I'm on fire today) Razz
Bookface
I think the key elements in the Harry Potter books is an overlay onto the real world of magic, so that magic is available in this world by those who can wield it, combined with a hero in training so that the readers can grow with him into the fantasy.

But then again, I've only read the first book and stopped a bit into the second.


I am currently reading The Thornbirds and some of P.G. Wodehouse's earlier books. And some of my favorite books are classics but almost none that I've read for school (Les Miserables, Shogun always come to mind.) I think people that really enjoy reading enjoy reading classics, but people who just enjoy being entertained will pick up the big flashy books in front.

Judging by the bookstore displays laid out, actually, I'd have to say the classics are still popular enough to get regular attention. Although maybe that's just because the stores can make a killing off of them with no royalties and even printing them on their own presses.

Check out Project Gutenberg for free classics, though.
bao
I like to read The classic book!This is feel nature and better.
friscofrankie
Always refer back to the classics for entertainment and relaxation. While modern novels can keep you entertained through a single reading. Nothing beats classic literature for coming home to. I kept a leather-bound goldleafed copy of Edgar Allen Poe's complets works near on my night table until I left it in the states. I miss that book.
Classic does not have to mean old. Kurt Vonnegut bears reading and re-reading. If youenjoy reading his stuff, try John Stienbeck. This has gfot to be one of K.V.'s leading inspirations. The style and even (loosely) the subject matter are quite similar. I read them both often.
I miss good books most of all. Buying English language books here is hit-or-miss, mostly popular fiction and new-age crap.
ollandjeugd
I read classic books !!! But i come from Holland so the titels would not say anything to you .... I think classic books are realy great
Tiger
ollandjeugd wrote:
I read classic books !!! But i come from Holland so the titels would not say anything to you .... I think classic books are realy great


Well, I can understand some Dutch, so if you post the titles of the Dutch classics you've read, I'll probably understand them. I'd be interested in learning what books are considered 'classics' in other cultures.

The wonderful thing about books is that it allows you to recreate the people and images in your head, whereas TV an film do it for you. I still say that nothing beats reading a good classic!
igor123d
What do you mean by the question "Do people still read classics"? Certainly people who are interested in serious literature read these books that have stood the test of time. Perhpas numerous sophisticated books are above the interests of the majority of the world's people, nevertheless amongst the intellectual classes you wil rarely (if ever) find a person who does not manifest an interest in literature.
kam311
classics are the best, i'm especially a fan of the shakespearian plays and sonnets. Hamlet is my favorite...even better when used with the ladies....Wink
Masochistic Tendencies
Shakespeare is pretty good because they're all tragic. Not any of that happily-ever after nonsense. The Things They Carried isn't really a classic persay but it's a great book.
Phi
Is Pride & Prejudice considered a classic? Because I love that book <3 So glad they're making it into a film! Hopefully the film will be as great as the book Razz
dreamflow
Phi wrote:
Is Pride & Prejudice considered a classic? Because I love that book <3 So glad they're making it into a film! Hopefully the film will be as great as the book Razz


Yes, Pride and Prejudice is considered a classic.

Jane Austen is one of the classics author which people around the world ACTUALLY read.
dreamflow
Tiger wrote:
I was wondering if anyone still reads classic books?


Most people have heard of Charles Dickens, Edgar A. Poe, and even Ernest Hemmingway, and remember titles like "King Solomons Mines". But does anyone actually read these books after school?


I know that "The Old Man and the Sea" was made into a film, as was "King Solomons Mines", and I once saw "She" on TV, but are these kind of books still interesting to people? I recently downloaded some books from Project Gutenburg, and I think that they are definitely worth reading. At the moment, I am interested in books by H. Rider Haggard.

I would hope that classic books aren't just for film-makers. Some of them are still excellent reads.


Classics authors who has wide readership outside college are far and few in between. And fewer still are fan-based classics authors.

As for what this books are, it vary from country to country. In my own country, the likes of classic Filipino novelists Nick Joaquin and F. Sionil Jose are red for enrichment and enjoyed the most by some of my countrymen.

As for western classic authors who are savored for pleasure by many, and at the same time has universal appeal, the following comes to my subjective mind:

    Shakespeare - Romeo and Juliet, etc.
    Bronte Sisters - Wuthering heights, etc.
    Dickens - David Copperfield, etc.
    Tolstoy - Anna Karenina, War and Peace

    Twain - Tom Sawyer/Huckleberry Finn
    Trollope - Chronicles of Barsetshire
    Wharton - The Age of Innocence, etc.
    Proust - Remembrance of Things Past

    Kafka - The Trial, The Metamorphosis, etc.
    Mann - The Magic Mountain
    Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
    Hemingway - The Old Man and the Sea, etc.

    Woolf - To the Lighthouse/A Room of One's Own
    Nabokov - Lolita
    Gabriel Garcia Marquez - One Hundred Years of Solitude
    Austen - Pride and Prejudice


There are others of course, but few are as universally acclaimed as my list above.

The Greeks and Latins for example (Homer, Plato, Virgil etc.) are classics yet outside the academic circle few read them. And philosophers, such as Marx, are red less. Scientists, such as Einstein, are red even lesser. Religious tomes such as the Bible, and Koran are popular doubtless, yet few people read them for pleasure.

Hope my views helps.
DarthSilus
I read the Dune series, Moby Dick, 1984, Cry the Beloved Country, Shakespear (Julius Caesar, Romeo and Juliet,) and some really old ones like the Classics of the Chinese, etc.
stormybaka
William Gibson's Neuromancer is what I consider a cult classic.
carriage_return
Of course people read classics ^_^ I love Hemmingway, Poe, and omg John Steinbeck is wonderful. I also think I am the only person in the world who loved The Great Gatsby, seriously. I do have to admit that my favorite was Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I don't know why. I just adored it.
benwhite
The whole 'classic' distinction is mildly arbitrary. The books we're referring to are generally refered to part of the English Canon, but there are more than a few that many consider overrated. Books are taken in and out as well. There's something to be said about the many books that required dozens of people to do dissertations on to be understood. Faulkner's A Sound and the Fury was so convoluted he included an appendix in the second edition because people kept getting it wrong. It's a classic, it is an important work...and yet something doesn't ring quite right. Besides, there are certainly contemporary books that are deserving of this distinction, in many cases more than their elders. Bemoaning the unpopularity of classical literature is trial compared to the fact that most people don't read -period-. I'd rather someone read Da Vinci Code and Harry Potter instead of Joyce if it means they'll actual get something out of it.

As for the Da Vinci code, it's only annoying that people who read it don't also read other books as well. Literature is rewarding. Just because you enjoy books in the canon doesn't mean that popular fiction is automatically bad. People might not like the mystery/thriller genre, but that's another issue. That's the same counterculture stuff all the indie kids spout. It's pretty clear that many many people, even professionals, admit that Dan Brown writes a good thriller. People are angry that its inaccurate. But that's not really important given that its Fiction.
WinterMoon
Being an absolute lover of Shakespeare and Charlotte Bronte especially, I cringe every time I hear "The DaVinci Code" and "classic" in the same sentence. I've read The DaVinci Code - it doesn't stack up nearly as well. In fact, 90% of the books being written today (if not all) don't have the originality, the pace, the intensity, the overall "make you think" fiction tone that the books we now call "classics" do. Classics make you think, and that's why we keep going back and reading them over and over and that's why they are immortal. Name the last book that was written that has now generally become accepted as a classic by the literary guru's. How long ago was that? You see "instant classic" all the time, but what happens after all the hype dies down . . .

As for me, as I said there are a few authors I still am absolutely in love with - both of which I started reading when I was twelve and to this day I own Shakespeare anthologies and have gone through numerous copies of Jane Eyre in order to prevent destroying each copy beyond readability Smile

Winter Moon
benwhite
I've never heard anyone refer the Da Vinci Code as a classic in that sense of the word. An enjoyable book maybe, but not a classic. The phrase 'instant classic' has a different meaning that what people refer to as "classic literature." Maybe the average Joe doesn't realize that, but any serious reader does, as you do.

I would ask you if you've read contemporary books like the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime (which easily rivals Faulkner's discription of autism) or Everything is Illuminated? Or in threatre, the works of Stoppard, like Rosencratz and Gildenstern Are Dead. To say books such as this don't measure up against works by Maya Angelou, Austen, or Faulkner is a bit narrowminded. Just because it's new doesn't mean it doesn't have staying power. Many books written in the past weren't appreciated for their worth until much later. I might urge you to reconsider donouncing contemporary literature.

For every 'classic' work written in the past, there were many more deritive and largely forgotten peices. Such is the case now. Of course 90% of the books being written today aren't classic material. But neither were 90% of the books written back then! Books like Bee Season are certainly worth reading. Shakespeare is well and good, a true master, but there are many less notable works in the canon that don't measure up as well against scrutiny.
Jayfarer
I dig Frankenstein.
godzilla
One book I haven't seen posted yet is Brave New World, which is an amazing book. And yeah, to answer the question posed earlier, I do read books outside of school hours. Yesterday I read two books just for the fun of it, Brave New World and another classic. I think, as an American, that our society doesn't read classic books as much as they should. As I read, I saw definite similarities between Brave New World and our world today. It was pretty scary.
benwhite
Brave New World also spawned a really bad sci-fi tv series. Yum.
yenglin
One of the best books I've ever read is Letters from the Earth by Mark Twain. It was banned and was published post-mortem. It is written from the perspective of the devil. Very interesting. It can be printed out free from a website I can't remember the name of, but it's easy to find with Google or Yahoo.
ainieas
Since I'm an Eng major student in college we have to read quite a few of classics but I can say that reading them is still a pleasure for me. I love reading them. Just not the detailed study to answer all those complex questions!! Embarassed

Anyways my fav classics would be,

- Ivanhoe by Sir Walet Scott

- Kidnapped & Catriona by R.L. Stevenson

- Great Expectations and A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
bellairebpa
WinterMoon wrote:
Being an absolute lover of Shakespeare and Charlotte Bronte especially, I cringe every time I hear "The DaVinci Code" and "classic" in the same sentence. I've read The DaVinci Code - it doesn't stack up nearly as well. In fact, 90% of the books being written today (if not all) don't have the originality, the pace, the intensity, the overall "make you think" fiction tone that the books we now call "classics" do. Classics make you think, and that's why we keep going back and reading them over and over and that's why they are immortal. Name the last book that was written that has now generally become accepted as a classic by the literary guru's. How long ago was that? You see "instant classic" all the time, but what happens after all the hype dies down . . .

As for me, as I said there are a few authors I still am absolutely in love with - both of which I started reading when I was twelve and to this day I own Shakespeare anthologies and have gone through numerous copies of Jane Eyre in order to prevent destroying each copy beyond readability Smile

Winter Moon


^YES!

I was amazed to discover a literature section within the forums, and immediately, upon discovery of this thread (is that what you call it?) clicked on the post reply button. Classics are exactly what I've been diving into recently. My most recent novel is Jane Eyre (in which I have discovered my favorite heroine yet); I love Charlotte Bronte's diction.

To the English Literature major/doctorate (i can't remember which), no, you are not alone. Even mall hopping, junk food eating, reality show watching teens love and deeply cherish the classics that I'm sure both you and your spouse adore.
qbawler311
If your are into Bullfighting, Running of the Bulls (festival of San Fermin, pamplona, Spain), Drinking Booze, and/or Spain. I suggest "Death in the Afternoon" and _The Sun also Rises" by the man expatriot Earnhest Hemingway. Cheers!
palavra
classic books are the unchangeable homework materials

they are favorite of the teachers Laughing
Kath
Classics are classics because they stand the test of time- no-one can say that the Da Vinci code, or even the Harry Potters will be 'classics'. Thats like judging the greatest book of the centaury in 2006- it's just sensationalism.

My all time favorite Author..modern or otherwise is Jane Austen, she writes what is real- almost like a selective social commentary, its awesome to dissapear into the 1800s for a while.

2nd favorite is hands down JK Rowling, she had a phenomenal imagination even if some ideas are thought of as 'borrowed'
- Kath
paulbarter
I enjoy Shakespeare. His stuff will be around forever. Even though the language is old, the themes are not. I also enjoyed Baz Lurmans version of Romeo and Juliet. Which shows how relevant Shakespeare can be. I love the word play and subtle meanings and the richness of the text - good stuff! Hopefully there will be more adaptations of the classics, as well as the originals!
lawrencelombardi
I have made my way through half of this list: http://www.modernlibrary.com/top-100/100-best-novels/
I hope someday to have read them all, but some are very hard going. The writing in a lot of the older ones is so different than what we are used to today that it makes it very difficult to follow and relate.
jajarvin
lawrencelombardi wrote:

I have made my way through half of this list: http://www.modernlibrary.com/top-100/100-best-novels/


From these lists of books I have read the following books:

  1. THE GRAPES OF WRATH by John Steinbeck
  2. UNDER THE VOLCANO by Malcolm Lowry
  3. GO TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIN by James Baldwin
  4. THE HEART OF THE MATTER by Graham Greene
  5. A CLOCKWORK ORANGE by Anthony Burgess
  6. OF HUMAN BONDAGE by W. Somerset Maugham
  7. A FAREWELL TO ARMS by Ernest Hemingway
  8. THE CALL OF THE WILD by Jack London
  9. TOBACCO ROAD by Erskine Caldwell
  10. ONE LONELY NIGHT by Mickey Spillane
  11. ON THE BEACH by Nevil Shute
  12. IT by Stephen King


And from the list of Time Magazine's All-Time 100 Novels http://www.goodreads.com/list/show/2681.Time_Magazine_s_All_Time_100_Novels
I have also read the following books:

    13. THE BIG SLEEP by Raymond Chandler
    14. THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD by John le Carrι
    15. THE POWER AND THE GLORY by Graham Greene
boinsterman
godzilla wrote:
One book I haven't seen posted yet is Brave New World, which is an amazing book.
.... As I read, I saw definite similarities between Brave New World and our world today. It was pretty scary.


I'm reading Brave New World now. Incidentally, George Orwell was a student (under the name of Eric Blair) of Aldous Huxley, who for those who haven't heard of it is the author of Brave New World.

The advantage of reading a classic is the reputation of the book. If it's a classic, a lot of people have liked it over many years, so you are more likely to enjoy it too. But there are a lot of classics I do not enjoy, because of changes in what we get used too, I suppose. For example, I usually do not enjoy Shakespeare because it does not usually get translated into modern terms. Good writing does not draw attention to itself. Having to learn extra stuff just to understand his plays draws attention to that writing.
Insanity
One good classic book that I don't see often but is pretty good is Dracula. The original book by Bram Stoker, it isn't that scary per se, but it has good writing and the plot is the origin of a pretty well known archetype in literature, popular culture, and movies, and everything else. It's a good read if you want something that's entertaining.
Blummer
Love reading the classics, such as Les Miserables or Mark Twain, or even Dumas' novels. I mean, timeless is timeless. However, not everyone loves reading oldest stuff, since they don't feel very comfortable experiencing events from that age and imagining the whole atmosphere of that particular era.
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