I’ve said it before, and I will say it again: classic literature is soooo much better than contemporary literature! I spent my college years absorbing as many classics as I possibly could, and avoiding contemporary works as much as possible. Hannah has made great strides towards bringing my reading into the 21st century, but we were talking last night about how most of these books we hoped would be so interesting keep falling short of our simple expectations of entertainment. It makes me wonder. I know Hannah likes classics but I don’t think she is as avidly partial as myself, so if even she is disappointed, are we picking the wrong books or is it something else?
My favorite college professor (thank God for Dr. Byron Brown) once taught me that every book in some way reverts back to one of three classics: The Bible, The Odyssey, and The Aeneid. Now, whether you buy into that or not, it makes sense. Those works contain characters, plot lines, dramatic arches, dialogues, symbolism, and intended moral lessons that have stood the test of time and carry through all other literary works written since. Because these works are so well-known throughout the world, I’ve always been under the impression that it is borderline impossible to write anything “original” anymore since it’s the 21st century and, in some way or other, everything has already been said. So is that the problem with 21st century literature? Nothing is good enough because all the best things have already been written? Or is it possibly more personal? I think most of it is crap because I place the classics on such a lofty pedestal?
I think, for me and my opinion of contemporary works, it may be a somewhat “perfect storm” type combo of both of these possibilities. I don’t like most contemporary works because they can’t hold a candle to most classics. I must give credit, though, to a few of the works and authors that have come along and rocked my world! My deep adoration of the Harry Potter series has been harped upon in past posts so I’ll spare you any reiteration. I feel that same level of excited obsession for George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, probably also surprising no one. And now and then, an author like Chuck Palahniuk or Jeff Lindsay comes along and proves that original and captivating works can still be written, and written exceptionally well.
So the moral of this particular story is that my opinion remains unchanged. Classics trump contemporaries, hands down. I doubt whether anything could change said opinion at this point, but I will press on, forge my way through a sea of mediocrity in order to find a few diamonds in the rough. And you can bet your bottom dollar that when I do find them, you’ll be the first to know!