|Repurpose Classic Book Spines as Bookmarks–Pinterest link|
I love classic literature. Love talking about it, pondering it…I can never quite get enough of it. For an excellent post on how reading classics helps your mind, check this link: 10 Ways to Improve Your Mind by Reading Classics. I especially liked point nine, that reading classics helps you develop a distinct voice as a writer/blogger.
Classic literature touches on the deep inner workings of humans, from Ebenezer Scrooge’s greedy/lonely ways in A Christmas Carol, to The Count of Monte Cristo‘s drive for vengeance, to Jo March’s struggle to have her writing recognized in Little Women (art imitates life for some of us, eh?).
As I ponder, weak and weary…I mean…as I ponder what makes classics memorable to me, I keep landing on several characteristics I strive to include in my own writing:
|Hoping this movie sticks to the book (Link to Movie Poster)|
1) The main characters are memorable in some way. Perhaps they’re eerie psychopaths, like The Talented Mr. Ripley. Perhaps they’re delusional flirts who have a knack for self-preservation, like a certain Scarlett. Perhaps they’re young boys called on to fight an adults’ war, like Ender in Ender’s Game. Regardless. I can’t forget their names. Katniss Everdeen, I just might lump you into that group…not sure yet.
|Liked this adaptation (Link to Movie)|
2) Things happen to these main characters that literally make me cringe on some deep level, because they ring true. For instance, we really want to smack the selfish Scarlett upside the head when she ignores her understandably needy children. I’m sure we’ve all seen some modern-day Scarletts around. When Anna Karenina makes the wrong choice, we know things are going to get bad, because we’ve seen others make that wrong choice or we’ve made it ourselves. When Angel rejects Tess of the d’Urbervilles, we want to wring his neck. Then we sit, pasted to our chairs, as Tess rolls along to resolving the story in such an unforgettably tragic manner…yes, that might be more Deus ex Machina than realism, but we recognize the Angel-type guy and we recognize Tess’ need to absolve herself of her imagined wrong.
|The Help movie|
3) Even if I can see the ending coming, even if the book drags in the descriptive sections, I can’t stop reading until I know what happens to the main characters. Because I know it’ll stick with me for life. There are definitely some modern books that fall into this category, as well. These books stick with me forever, for good or ill. They change me. As an aside, I’ve noticed that frequently these classics are made into movies, as evidenced by all my pictures above!
That perfect concoction of prose, voice, storyline, and characters…I wish I knew which modern books will stand the test of time and become classics. I may never write one, but I have to try. The standard is set, and I want to shoot for it.
****Let’s talk classics, because it’s so fun! What would you add to my list of classic characteristics? What’s your FAVORITE classic? Mine is Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy, with The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot pulling a close second. ALSO, what would you deem a modern classic–say 1980s onward?****