Discussion Forums - Classic Literature

Topic: Are Classics ALWAYS Classics

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Date Posted: 12/6/2013 5:22 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
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Okay, if you're going to be a stickler on the point of a book's 'age', my next suggestion for a book for girls and young women from more than fifty years ago is A Lantern in Her Hand , by Bess Streeter Aldrich, from 1928.  (Probably Girl of the Limberlost, by Gene Stratton Porter, is old enough to qualify, too.  Over in Indiana, folks call it an "Indiana Classic."

And Edna Ferber's books may not be great 'literature', but they are good reading----especially Show Boat, Cimarron , and So Big.

True Grit was set in the "old days of the American West."



Last Edited on: 12/6/13 5:24 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 12/9/2013 3:01 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2009
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True Grit is an awesome book.

Date Posted: 12/12/2013 11:45 AM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2007
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This may sound arrogant, but I think the failure to relate is mostly due to lack of imagination.  "Modern people can't relate to life back then" "Kids today can't relate to it" etc is just a way of limiting human experience, which is the opposite of what books are all about.  How is reading a book from another time different from reading a modern book set in a different country and culture?  Not every 'classic' book will speak to everyone but being old doesn't make it irrelevant.

Date Posted: 12/12/2013 6:13 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
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I just remembered a book originally published in 1884----Ramona, by Helen Hunt Jackson.   A strong influence on the author was her friend, Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom's Cabin.  Mrs. Jackson said that she hoped her book might do for the Indian what Mrs. Stowe's book had done for the Negro.  At any rate, she was a strong advocate for the Mission Indians, and shined a spotlight on the mistreatment of that group.  This historical romance tells of the trials and tribulations of an 'inter-racial' couple in California.   I think it's still a worthwhile read.



Last Edited on: 12/12/13 6:13 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 12/12/2013 7:13 PM ET
Member Since: 9/14/2009
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 ...I think the failure to relate is mostly due to lack of imagination.

I agree with what you said Sevenspiders. The young, in particular, really limit themselves by saying they can't relate to an older work. I think it is often simple laziness. They seem unwilling to put forth the effort it might require to exert their imaginations and/or research the period they're reading about. Ever since I first learned to read I was fascinated by how people lived in earlier times; and, I always found something to relate to in every time period. After all, people are people across all time periods.

Date Posted: 12/14/2013 7:53 PM ET
Member Since: 5/31/2009
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A fourteen year old in our family has been reading some of the "old" classics.  In fact, she reads a wide range of books.  They  just have to be interesting reads for her.  And, she loves strong female characters whether created by today's authors or those of yesterday.  It just doesn't matter to her.  

Date Posted: 12/15/2013 8:23 AM ET
Member Since: 6/30/2008
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strong female characters

This seems to be important to women. We see it mentioned repeatedly in the forums. Do we need strong male characters or is that just assumed for boys and they don't need it in stories they read?

Date Posted: 12/15/2013 10:56 AM ET
Member Since: 2/3/2010
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Sevenspiders, you bring up a good point.  But when it comes to "Little Women" in particular, many of the themes are still appropriate today, friendship, sharing, poverty, etc.  Are the children of today so entitled that they can't relate as opposed to lack of imagination?

Charles, as a woman, I love men characters who aren't so strong. Personally, I feel a little bit of the female side in a man is more of an importance than the macho man.  It seems to me we assume male characters are strong.  I love to see men authors writing about men with introspection.

Date Posted: 12/15/2013 4:52 PM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2007
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It's not that we don't need strong male characters, it's just that we most definitely aren't lacking in them. In film, television, literature... Any where you look really, you can find at least one strong male character in almost any story. 

Date Posted: 12/15/2013 5:29 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
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Yeah, what you all said . . . . .BUT-------I liked it better when stories had HEROS and HEROINES.  Don't some of you remember when the HERO was supplanted in literature and film by the "ANTI-HERO" ?   Things were not the same after that development.  But maybe some readers like male characters who are/were flawed in some way or other?

I even liked the occasional VILLAINESS in the old black-and-white stories!!  And I suspect some of you-all recall almost fondly one or more such female  characters from your reading.  'Fess up, friends.  Think of the Dragon Lady in Terry and the Pirates, for example, or the Wicked Witch of the West, in The Wizard of Oz.

P.S.  I privately call some of the TV shows these days "testosterone-fests".   Counter-balancing them, though, on occasion, TV does offer a show such as Blue Bloods, but the male members of the large family of police officers, in that show, out-number the women (and one teen-age girl).

PP.S.  We're getting an up-dated film version of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty soon.   Do you remember the original story, in which Walter, a Casper Milquetoast of a fellow, dreams of being a HERO, in various situations?



Last Edited on: 12/30/13 4:59 PM ET - Total times edited: 6
Date Posted: 12/15/2013 7:39 PM ET
Member Since: 6/30/2008
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AB9KjryUmcM&list=PL5B3E6DC5365CFE99

 

this is a great video about Alcott and a little about LW.



Last Edited on: 12/15/13 8:23 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 12/16/2013 5:39 PM ET
Member Since: 5/31/2009
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Well, this went a different direction than I anticipated.  What I wanted to put across was that not all teen-agers fail to read classics.  Certainly one way to encourage reading of any type is to appear to what we know the younglings like, such as strong female characters.  Certainly, we do that with little children when we are trying to get them to learn the pleasure of reading.  

Date Posted: 12/16/2013 7:11 PM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2007
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I like heroes and anti heroes pretty much equally if they're well-drawn.   I like it when the main character is morally complicated and not just a mustache-twirling baddie or clean-cut Captain do-gooder.  But the antihero isn't a new thing; the flawed hero has been around since Odysseus started being an arrogant jerk in The Odyssey.

Date Posted: 12/23/2013 10:28 AM ET
Member Since: 2/3/2010
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Thanks, Charles for the link to the video.  I read Cheever's book, too.  I am going to forward the link to my book club.  I happen to agree with Cheever that "Little Women" is relateable today, even if many don't see it.   Louisa May Alcott was an amazing women for her time and all times.

Date Posted: 12/23/2013 10:58 AM ET
Member Since: 6/30/2008
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I recognized Cheever's name. I read her memoir of her father. I think it is called Home Before Dark.

Date Posted: 12/30/2013 7:03 AM ET
Member Since: 4/9/2008
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My girls are teens. They enjoyed Little Women when I read it aloud to them when they were preteen. They don't reread it on their own, but one likes the movie version. I can say one teen reads very little these days and the other one lists Ivanhoe and The Count of Monte Cristo as her absolute faves. Neither watches much tv, not much appeals, tho they have a fave show here and there.

They also recognize that they are not like " mainstream society". But they are real, lol.

Date Posted: 12/30/2013 7:03 AM ET
Member Since: 4/9/2008
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My girls are teens. They enjoyed Little Women when I read it aloud to them when they were preteen. They don't reread it on their own, but one likes the movie version. I can say one teen reads very little these days and the other one lists Ivanhoe and The Count of Monte Cristo as her absolute faves. Neither watches much tv, not much appeals, tho they have a fave show here and there.

They also recognize that they are not like " mainstream society". But they are real, lol.

Date Posted: 12/31/2013 10:16 AM ET
Member Since: 2/3/2010
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Thanks, Lora, for chiming in.  It renews my spirit to learn that some kids still enjoy "Little Women."

Date Posted: 1/16/2014 9:37 PM ET
Member Since: 8/31/2008
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I didn't read Little Women until I was over 50.  I enjoyed it.  It was one of the freebies that coame on my Nook shortly after I bought it.  In my explanation to my husband and son why I liked the book I said "there are no bad guys".  You see, DH and DS often watch loud "guy movies" in which I have difficulty telling the good guys from the bad guys because they all seem bad and are killing each other, and there are too many loud explosions..  So I like books and movies where there are no bad guys (muder mysteries excepted).  My son said that if there were no bad guys it would be a boring story.  OK, I like boring.

Date Posted: 5/3/2014 5:47 PM ET
Member Since: 4/4/2009
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Not too many months ago, I got hold of an edition of I Promessi Sposi that was not condensed. Making no accomodations for "modern readers," it left the lengthy descriptions of customs and manners as they were practiced in Italian society, 1800. And it was just these differences (300 pages longer) that, at least for me, made it clear that this book is a timeless classic .They way they were, and why they were that way, and how this put straight-jackets on everyone from the Duke to the poorest peasant...

In other words, it was that Italy, 1800, was hopelessly "outdated" by modern standards that made the book timeless, not subject to ever being "outdated."

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