The Classics Club – June 2014 Meme

Classics ClubFor June the hosts of The Classics Club have asked members to

“Think of an example of a classic you’ve read that presents issues like racism/sexism as acceptable within society. Do you think the reception of this classic work would be the same if it were newly published today? What can we get out of this work despite its weaknesses? Or, why would you say this work is still respected, treasured or remembered in 2014?

And I’m not going to answer it. Go read any of my other meme answers, they answer this question, and will continue to answer it over and over.

The fact that we are reading “classics,” aka books that have stood the test of time, answers this question. The overwhelming majority of these books deal with archetypes and themes which are universal to the human experience no matter the age: poverty and wealth disparity, all of the -isms and phobias including sexism, ageism, racism, homophobia and xenophobia to name a few, and the duality of good/evil, right/wrong, night/day and life/death for example.

Seriously, take a moment to look at any of the books you’ve read for this club and find one that doesn’t deal with at least one of these things. Then think about the books people call modern classics and see if they’re not there. I’m sure there are other general archetypes there, but these are the ones that first come to mind from the Epic of Gilgamesh to Harry Potter, authors have refined and reused the same ideas over and over again. The vehicle (genre) and details (story) may change, but many themes appear again and again and again.

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