This month, the Classics Club has posed the following question to its members: “Why are you reading the classics?” I was determined that I would answer the monthly meme this month, as I’ve skipped out on the last two months and I really do want to be an active member of the Classics Club community.
Well, it’s nearing the end of the month, and I’m just now getting around to the question. Why am I reading the classics?
I’ve always enjoying reading. In high school, I was the strange kid who liked most of the classics novels we had to read for English class. After graduation and as the years went on, I found myself not reading classics books as much as I would have wanted. In fact, I wasn’t reading for pleasure all that much, except for during the summer. I was frustrated by the trend, but I always never seemed to have enough time to read.
One summer, I decided that I needed to fix this, and I haven’t looked back since.
The literary canon has formed the foundations of modern popular culture. In order to really understand any work, you have to understand what came before it. The classics of literature form the foundation for modern literature and theater – but knowing them well can even increase one’s knowledge of film and television.
I’m slowly realizing exactly how many great stories I’ve been missing out on. I can’t believe I’ve only just read Anna Karenina and Jane Eyre, for example – those are two works that have really become a part of our shared culture. Now that I am finally getting around to reading these great books, I’m discovering more and more powerful stories and some very fascinating people: Jane Eyre, Heathcliff, Victor Frankenstein, the second Mrs. De Winter, Catherine Sloper, Paul Atreides, Anna Karenina, Guy Montag, Sherlock Holmes – the list could go on.
Through reading classic books, I’m hearing William Shakespeare, Leo Tolstoy, John Steinbeck, Ernest Hemingway, Henry James, Daphne du Maurier, Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë, and many others speak to me. Their words resonate through the decades – through the centuries, in some cases. I’m not going to stop listening any time soon.