Friday, November 4, 2011

Back to the Classics Challenge 2012: What is a Classic?


This Challenge is getting some great attention already!  So many people are talking about it, Twittering about it... the enthusiasm is incredible.  So thank you for all that.  I love that you are as excited about this challenge as I am.   A few people have already formally signed up and posted book lists already.  You are already a step ahead of me!  But I'll get there, I promise.  But in the meantime, I am seeing lots of comments and questions asking "Does this count as a Classic?"  "I want to read this, but I'm not sure if it is a Classic or not..."  Well, I am going to try and answer that here.  Try being the operative word here, because as most avid readers will tell you - just about anything is debatable, and the definition of a "Classic" is certainly no exception.

I created this Challenge last year to almost force myself into reading some of the great books out there that I hadn't gotten to yet.  It worked for me.  I don't want to lose that.  I have noticed that I am reading more and more new(er) release books lately, and I want to keep myself grounded in the Classics.  Therefore, I am continuing the Challenge.  Also, I really have a lot of fun with it - not to mention meeting new people & their blogs.

So, for the purpose of the Challenge - What is a Classic?  I think a basic working definition to use here would be any book that has left its mark on the world.  I want to say "literary world", but that is not always exactly the case, is it?  It is a book that is remembered, or can conjure an image in anyone's mind whether they have read it or not.  In most cases, these books are old.  But I also believe that some more recent works could be considered Classics, which is why I kept the "20th century Classic" category.

I really want this Challenge to be challenging and fun at the same time.  If you have a book that you want to read, feel that it is a Classic though maybe others might be on the fence about classifying it that way - argue your point.  In your review/comments on the book once you've read it, state your position and why it counts as a Classic.  Does that sound fair?  What do you think?


13 comments:

TheBookGirl said...

I think you have solved the "what is a classic" question brillantly...some books will be obvious, but by having the individual advocate for why other less clear choices should be considered classic is sure to spark great discussion :)

christina-reads said...

I like your solution: if a book's "classic" status is debatable, you have to justify your choice. I'll definitely keep this in mind as I continue to hunt for books!

Petya K. Grady said...

Following your advice to make this work for me, here's my list:

http://www.themigrantbookclub.com/2011/11/2012-classics-challenge.html

I am super excited!

Jean said...

Here's one I can't answer: is "Madame Bovary" a romance? It's on my TBR pile, I need a classic romance--but does this fit the bill?

Sarah Reads Too Much said...

Ok Jean, I've been thinking about this for a few days now. My gut instinct was no; that book was almost an "anti-romance". I even reached out to Twitter, where people agreed with my instinct. But then one person argued that it is a romance, but about the crumbling of a love, not a happy-ending romance story. So, I pose this to you: If you would like to read this as a Romance, and not a 19th Century Classic - then go ahead, but point out why you think it is a Romance in your review. Does that sound fair?

Jean said...

Wow, you did give that a lot of thought! Thanks! I'll see how it goes. :D

Col (Col Reads) said...

For the "Takes Place in a Country I'm Not Likely to Visit" category -- can a part of the novel take place there? Maugham's The Moon and Sixpence ends up in Tahiti, a place I'm not likely to go, although it starts in London and moves to Paris. Thanks!

Sarah Reads Too Much said...

I haven't read that one - I would say if the bulk of the book is in Tahiti then okay, but if it is just the last 30 pages or something like that, then I don't think I could say that it really "takes place" there, you know?

alberta ross said...

when I first saw the challenge though ah now is a good time to go far far back and read those greeks and norse men however the ones I wanted to read are more like poems than plays does something such as the Iiliad and Beowulf count instead of a play? prob not might have to look at Ovid but not keen -
I reckon Madame Bovary is a romance in the wider and original meaning of the word as opposed to the smaller more confined meaning in general use

apaperbacklife said...

I tend to avoid making any lists beforehand and try to go with the flow. Is it okay for me to not list what books I'm going to be reading beforehand and announce their names as I fulfill the requirements of each of the categories?

Also where can I get suggestions about Classic Award Winners? If the author is an award winner (i.e. Nobel Prize) will 'all' the books written by him/her be considered eligible?

Thank you in advance! :-)

apaperbacklife said...

If the author is an award winner (for example, Nobel Prize) will everything written by him/her be considered eligible for the 'Classic Award Winner' category? I need some help with finding books for this category.

Also, I am not very good at making lists beforehand. Is it necessary to post a list of the books I'll be reading for the challenge?

Thank you in advance! :-)

Sarah Reads Too Much said...

A Paperback Life -

You do not need to list your choices ahead of time, and even if you do - you can change titles at any time. I made a list because it is easier for me, but I also have *plenty* of back-ups on my TBR shelves, just in case something else strikes my fancy.

To find "Classic Award Winners", I suggest Wikipedia or Google - Literary Awards/Winners or something like that. For this category, I am choosing a Pulitzer Award winner, but there are so many awards! If the Author won the Nobel, any works would be considered but I might want to stick one of the more notable/famous works he/she may have written.

Sarah Reads Too Much said...

ALSO - for anyone having trouble coming up with titles - most people have linked to their choices on the original sign-up post. You can always see what others are reading, and maybe read the same. As the year and challenge progresses, titles and reviews will be linked - so there will be another place to find titles.

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