What Makes a Classic Novel a Classic?

June 1, 2008
By Ren Pasco, Tulsa, OK

What is a classic novel? Does it have to be written by an old, white, dead dude to be a classic? This is a controversial issue these days. If there’s one thing most everyone seems to agree on, it’s that a classic is timeless.

Everyone has their own opinion on what makes a classic. “A classic novel is one that has survived many, many years, received the approval of billions of critical eyes and minds, and has had such value that other authors have been inspired and changed by it,” said Paul Sheckarski, a librarian for teens at a library in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Ally Carter-author, gave the examples of Pride and Prejudice and To Kill a Mocking Bird. The reasons these are classics in her eyes is because, “There’s something intrinsically true about both of them and when that’s the case the story will never age.”

A Language Arts teacher, in Tulsa- Mrs. Griffin, said that a classic book “has themes and characters that are timeless. Shakespeare is a perfect example because any of his plays could have been written now.”

“Hamlet is about a son whose father died and his mother remarries a bad guy that Hamlet doesn't like. How often does that happen? Much Ado About Nothing is about young adults spreading rumors about each other, Macbeth is about power-hungry politicians, and even Romeo and Juliet is about two young people in love when their families don't get along.”

Another author, Melissa Walker said a classic “is relevant into future generations. Usually, classic works have something to say about the human condition--and they touch profoundly on big themes of life like love, loss, justice, social classes, race, sexual politics, etc in a way that resonates for years to come.”

Author Elizabeth C. Bunce -commenting on what will someday be a classic said, “the only book I've read, finished, and thought: ‘This book will still be read in 100 years--it will still be in print, and companies will publish flocked-and-gilded hardcover gift editions for people to buy for their grandchildren because it's that good’ was The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. It was more a sense than anything I can articulate--a feeling, deep down where great books resonate.”
Gretchen Laskas-author thinks, “They (classics) contribute to our sense that creativity in itself is valued and valuable.”

All these definitions of what a classic is show that maybe a classic is a lot things, or maybe what a classic is, is just in the eye of the beholder. No matter what definition you agree with, one thing’s clear: books will continue to be named classics for a long time, and people will continue to wonder who makes these decisions and how.


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This article has 12 comments.


on Jan. 13 2017 at 12:46 am
APlit_amiright,
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
thanx man.

Paradise said...
on Mar. 21 2016 at 4:26 pm
Very deep. Very talented

on Jun. 24 2011 at 12:54 am
Ren-P. PLATINUM, Tulsa, Oklahoma
21 articles 18 photos 45 comments

Favorite Quote:
"You must give up a life you’d planned in order to have the life that’s waiting for you." ~ Joseph Campbell

I just noticed, To Kill a Mockingbird (by Harper Lee) is also mentioned and also by a woman.

Anita PLATINUM said...
on Jan. 11 2011 at 6:11 pm
Anita PLATINUM, Santa Cruz, California
20 articles 0 photos 36 comments
wow... you're right. I didn't notice that. :)

on Jan. 11 2011 at 5:33 pm
WithPenAndScript DIAMOND, Venetia, Pennsylvania
72 articles 232 photos 252 comments

Favorite Quote:
I believe that no matter who you are we all leave footprints on this Earth

Pride and Prejudice was mentioned...

nchic GOLD said...
on Nov. 25 2010 at 3:05 pm
nchic GOLD, Charlottesville, Virginia
14 articles 0 photos 13 comments

Favorite Quote:
it had borne the burden; it had earned the honor
-joan of arc

life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass; it's about learning to dance in the rain.
-anonymous

yes, jane austen. that is what i was going to post.

on Sep. 27 2010 at 11:06 pm
Ren-P. PLATINUM, Tulsa, Oklahoma
21 articles 18 photos 45 comments

Favorite Quote:
"You must give up a life you’d planned in order to have the life that’s waiting for you." ~ Joseph Campbell

You are right. Thank you for pointing that out.

on Sep. 27 2010 at 11:06 pm
Ren-P. PLATINUM, Tulsa, Oklahoma
21 articles 18 photos 45 comments

Favorite Quote:
"You must give up a life you’d planned in order to have the life that’s waiting for you." ~ Joseph Campbell

I'm am the author of this and I just wanted to say, as I have said before, I meant it to be a sort of news article. It originally went in my school paper. It isn't supposed to be my opnion!

on Sep. 20 2010 at 5:29 am
SmritiBansal SILVER, Noida, Other
7 articles 0 photos 3 comments

Favorite Quote:
Most of our lives are a series of images, they pass us by like towns on a highway. Sometimes a moment stuns us as it happens and we know that this instant is more than a fleeting image. We know that this moment, every part of it, will live on forever

Hey, first of all- brilliant topic. 

But what I felt while reading this was, thats it's everybody's view but yours.

I'd like to know what YOU have to say. What YOUR definition is. I can always google what other people have to say.

So, yeah. I like the article, id just really like to know what your views are.


Anita PLATINUM said...
on Jun. 16 2010 at 4:15 pm
Anita PLATINUM, Santa Cruz, California
20 articles 0 photos 36 comments
women can write them, too-- Jane Austen, anyone??

on Sep. 26 2009 at 1:33 am
Ren-P. PLATINUM, Tulsa, Oklahoma
21 articles 18 photos 45 comments

Favorite Quote:
"You must give up a life you’d planned in order to have the life that’s waiting for you." ~ Joseph Campbell

Yes my opinion is important, but this was originally a piece for my school newspaper, therefore the intent was journalism. This was meant as an article, not a column, so it shouldn't be about what I think but what the world thinks.

on Aug. 7 2009 at 3:38 pm
unearthlyhaphazard GOLD, N/A, New York
15 articles 0 photos 177 comments

Favorite Quote:
"There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are."~W. Somerset Maugham

This was an excellent piece of writing, and a topic that I never really pondered until now. I definitely agree with Ally Carter and Melissa Walker on the definition of the classic. Just add more of what you think. It's your article; your opinion is just as important, too!




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