There is a note floating around facebook that caught my attention recently–if you’re on facebook, you’ve probably seen it. These things get around rather speedily, if you know what I mean. It was a list of the BBC’s top 100 “classic” literary works. I found it a fascinating study, because it is assumed that the average person has only read 6 of the books on the list.
I’ve read 38 of them, which actually disappointed me but will save me some trouble at the library for the next year. I do have several gripes about the list though. First off, those 100 books are not all literary classics. There are SOME literary classics on it. I am greatly perturbed that certain of those books made the cut. I will be reading the ones that I haven’t read to see if I’ve just missed certain classics. In the meantime, however, I’m making my own top 100 list.
Classics are either books that a) changed the worldview of a specific demographic at a given period in history (Jane Austen, for example), or b) books that have been read, and reread, and reread by generations. There are other factors, of course. Anything can contribute to what makes a book a classic. My current gripe is that a book shouldn’t be considered because it made the bestseller list one year, or even two.
The main book that brought this up? “The Time Travelor’s Wife, by Audrey Niffeneger” Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed this book and thought the movie was incredibly sweet. But classic? Really? Not just classic, but the top 100 list.
Honestly, I feel like that classification portrays exactly how degraded the education system is becoming.
Recently when I went to the library, I had to search for an unabridged copy of Macbeth. It wasn’t a lack of Shakespeare–there were three shelves, of abridged “translated” copies. Part of the experience of Shakespeare is the old English! Come on, people! No wonder we’re getting dumber! We can’t take the time to slow down and read Shakespeare in old English? Half the enjoyment of old literature is the extensive vocabulary they use. It’s heartbreaking to see it mashed away in some pathetic, squalid farrago of simple words and politically correct ideas.
I will not write like that. Why bother having nearly a million words in the English language if nobody uses half of them? Geek alert: I like reading the dictionary, and the thesaurus is even better. I can sit for hours with my electronic dictionary reading through the index, looking up words I’ve never heard of and using the thesaurus to find more like them.
The language is one reason why I love history so much. Reading period novels, or even better, diaries… mmmm, yep, my little piece of heaven.
That’s enough rambling for me right now. Somehow, I managed to start by talking about the so-called “Top 100 literary classics”, and ended up going off about how much I love my thesaurus. 😀 and I do so love my thesaurus!
I’m off to write the Great American Novel… and maybe make my own “Top 100 literary classics” list.