“A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say.” — Italo Calvino
I signed up for Classics Club some time ago, and asked myself the question, “What is a classic?” In my book it’s a title that has stood the test of time — however long that is — and will include children’s fiction, classical and foreign texts in translation as well as those deemed modern classics (mostly 20th century).
Included on this list — an aide-memoire really — are the classics I have yet to read (or reread: RR).
- Petronius Arbiter: The Satyricon RR
- Frances Hodgson Burnett: A Little Princess Read
- Charles Dickens: Oliver Twist RR
- George Eliot: Middlemarch
- Hermann Hesse: The Glass Bead Game RR
- Charles Kingsley: Hypatia
- Rudyard Kipling: Kim RR
- D H Lawrence: The Princess and other stories
- Niccolò Machiavelli: The Prince
- L M Montgomery: Anne of Green Gables
- Mervyn Peake: Gormenghast
- Mark Twain: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer RR
- Horace Walpole: The Castle of Otranto RR
I shall attempt to make a start on reading these with the help of Karen’s Back to the Classics meme for 2022 (though I shan’t officially sign up to participating). Here’s her category list, which I know at least some of my remaining classics-to-read will fit.
1. A 19th century classic. Any book first published from 1800 to 1899. Hypatia?
2. A 20th century classic. Any book first published from 1900 to 1972. All books must have been published at least 50 years ago; the only exceptions are books which were written by 1972 and posthumously published. The Glass Bead Game?
3. A classic by a woman author. A Little Princess? Anne of Green Gables?
4. A classic in translation. Any book first published in a language that is not your primary language. You may read it in translation or in its original language, if you prefer. The Satyricon?
5. A classic by BIPOC author. Any book published by a non-white author.
6. Mystery/Detective/Crime classic. It can be fiction or non-fiction (true crime).
7. A classic short story collection. Any single volume that contains at least six short stories. The book can have a single author or can be an anthology of multiple authors. The Princess and Other Stories?
8. Pre-1800 classic. Anything written before 1800. Plays and epic poems, such as the Odyssey, are acceptable in this category. The Castle of Otranto?
9. A nonfiction classic. Travel, memoirs, and biographies are great choices for this category. The Prince?
10. Classic that’s been on your TBR list the longest. Kim?
11. Classic set in a place you’d like to visit. Can be real or imaginary — Paris, Tokyo, the moon, Middle Earth, etc. Gormenghast?
12. Wild card classic. Any classic book you like, any category, as long as it’s at least 50 years old!