How do you define a classic?

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Bush baby
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Re: How do you define a classic?

Post by Bush baby » 14 Feb 2018, 13:51

A classic expresses artistic quality. It is an expression of life, truth, and beauty. I feel this has been left out in the equasion by people in their replies. A classic must be of high quality, at least for the time in which it was written in. While different styles will come and go, it can be appreciated for its construction and literary art. It may not be a bestseller today because of dated language, and pacing, but can learn from it and be inspired by its prose.

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Post by Irene C » 20 Feb 2018, 14:40

It's an interesting question. For me, for a novel to be a classic it has to be literary to some significant degree and be considered part of some "canon" that represents the literature of a certain era, literary movement, nation or culture, or genre. So, Pride and Prejudice is a classic because of its literary merits and because it is an example of British Romanticism. The Yacoubian Building is a classic because of its literary merits and because it the essential novel of modern Egypt. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is a classic of 20th century science fiction.

More plot-driven genre fiction that uses language in a more functional way to serve the plot -- I would not consider those novels to be potential classics. I also think it takes the passage of time to judge what a period's classics are. You have to remove Dickens' work from the basic reality that he wrote them while being paid by the word or the line to begin to see their potential for greatness.
History is not a burden on the memory but an illumination of the soul. Lord Acton

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Post by StarsAtNight » 20 Feb 2018, 16:19

Personally, I think it involves two elements:
Age and popularity.

Because we tend to think classic is a cohort that separates 'old book A' from 'classic book' B, it has to do with popularity.

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Post by Jeyasivananth » 08 Mar 2018, 17:42

I think a true classic stands the test of time and appeals to people across all ages and time.

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Post by rik17 » 09 Mar 2018, 00:57

As mentioned by some others here, a classic work is one that is still relevant at its essence years or decades later.

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Post by DesireeRose » 12 Mar 2018, 10:52

Something that was written a long time ago, but people still enjoy reading it in the present time.

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Post by Raju Chacko » 12 Aug 2019, 09:42

In my humble opinion, a classic is one that contains timeless wisdom. Although it might have stirred up controversy, it was received with respect, counted as valuable to society in some way and was rarely opposed or struck down. It is one that has stood the test of time, without losing appeal. It contains one or more of: original thoughts, spiritual themes, ideas ahead of their times, morals, lessons, etc. that were hitherto unknown and served to educate humanity in some way or the other after becoming public. It is the creation of a genius or a brilliant thinker. It is written in the best style and form that prevailed at the time of writing, perfected and freed from errors of every kind. There is something in a classic that impacts everyone on earth, regardless of country, race, language, age, sex, culture and so on. Hence most classics are universal. A classic is usually older than us. Finally, classics are milestones in literary history that have never been excelled - they have become de facto standards in the literary world for future generations to follow.

What do you think? Please feel welcome to add points that I may have missed!
The highest purpose of art is to inspire. What else can you do? What else can you do for anyone but inspire them? -Bob Dylan

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Post by reignstar2149 » 12 Aug 2019, 12:11

raikyuu wrote:
18 Jul 2017, 22:51
If one would attempt to define "classic" outside of academic institutions, I think Jorge Sette does a good job in giving an idea on what a "classic" is from his "What do Classic Novels Have in Common?".
Indubitably.
He touched on the most valid common traits of classic novels:
Language
Originality
Freshness
Seminal
Longetivity
Eternal truths & grand themes
Identity

Ultimately, books that stand the test of time.

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Raju Chacko
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Post by Raju Chacko » 13 Aug 2019, 09:25

I think "Identity" is a point I missed out. Could you elaborate on it a bit? Thanks, Raju
The highest purpose of art is to inspire. What else can you do? What else can you do for anyone but inspire them? -Bob Dylan

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Post by Anna1512 » 13 Aug 2019, 13:05

The Italian writer Italo Calvino gave the most suitable definition of classic that I have ever heard:" A classic is a book that has always something to say". I believe that the common feature of all classic is that they address a topic that can be reinterpreted and adapted to different ages and people

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Post by corinaelena » 18 Aug 2019, 02:30

I think a book might be considdred a classic if it was well-received, it has already been read by a very big njmber of pwopls and has countless interperetations and reviews made about it.

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Post by happygirl37 » 15 Oct 2019, 10:24

I think it's not so much about the year the book was written, but more so about the fact that it is some kind of breakthrough, either because the characters are "modern" for the time the story is set in or because the plot falls around a specific action. I think what really makes a classic is the fact that it changes peoples views and lives and becomes unforgettable.

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