→ 23 Jun 12 at 2 pm
Yeah, because people who think they’re really intelligent and superior (or desperately want to feel that way) keep blabbering about how brilliant they are and shit.
Really, half of those so called classics are way overrated. There’s plenty of good contemporary literature around that doesn’t get viewed the same way because scholars haven’t had time to rip it apart yet.
Though this is a reply to what was said before on this post, it’s by no means meant as a personal attack, but I just want to give my two pence about an issue that people complain to me about way too often, often in the same words as said above.
Oh yes, surely some people read (or ‘read’) the classics with a pretentious attitude, but that’s no reason to slight the books. They stood the test of time as the OP called it for various reasons, that you and I may not understand anymore. You don’t have to like the books, but to dismiss so many of those books beforehand is hardly fair.
Loads of the contemporary literature doesn’t get viewed the same way because it hasn’t had the time to build up the same reputation. That doesn’t mean those books won’t and that doesn’t mean anyone’s dismissing them, either. Writing a good book that has the potential of becoming a classic doesn’t just depend on the author being a talented writer, but also on the author being a good salesman (an agent may be the new thing nowadays, but you still need to sell your work to an agent first anyway). This was true a 100 years ago and it’s certainly still true now.
I think if you really like books, you’ll read both classics and contemporary work. But yes, contemporary work will first get judged by the critics and its prize committees (which, by the by, does help to build up your classics reputation [though not always, there are plenty of Literature Nobel price winners we don’t read anymore nowadays]), and a scholarly reputation comes later, if it comes at all. It’s the way of the world, you can rant about it, but it will help you none. Also, you can’t deconstruct the books of this time and age in the same way you deconstruct the classics, as we are not as objective of the time we are living in. Only time will show what books will become classics, what books reflect the time we were living in, regardless of our subjective opinions.
Basically, just read whatever you like. Not for bragging rights about “look I read the classics” or “look at me being cool because I dismiss the classics”. Reading shouldn’t be about that. Just have fun with it.
(Also, scholars do way more than just ‘ripping apart’ a book. Some might, but most people I know (hi, I’m a scholar!) will try to find, discuss or defend an interpretation of a book, and the things they will ‘rip apart’ are opinions by other scholars, and that usually only happens in the footnotes. Scholarly reviews are meant to be objective, after all, and ripping a book apart would have to do with a subjective opinion. I think I understand what was meant, but the expression here doesn’t fit, imo.)