Friday, 5 October 2012
The Classics Club October Meme: Why I Read the Classics
I will admit that I've not been keeping up with The Classics Club as I should be, and will probably be doing so even less in the coming months, but then the basis of its initial appeal was its unpressurized nature, and I am currently reading The Grapes of Wrath which is on my list, so. Anyway, the October meme question is Why are you reading the Classics? which is a really difficult one to answer.
I guess part of why I'm reading the classics is inbuilt snobbery. Having been raised throughout my school life to see the classics as the really worthwhile books; the ones that would teach you things about the world and about people, part of me kind of feels like reading them will make me a better person. Because they have stood the test of time for so many years and are so often such great historical, political, and social portraits as well as just entertaining literature. I guess that if I thought about it, which I haven't really, I would define the classics as books which are representative of a certain period of history; which teach me something about a place that I've never experienced or a time that I've never been. I read them to learn, I guess. When I read classics I often find myself doing background research, which I don't really do when I'm reading otherwise, and I often find that one classic will lead me to another and so on. I forget that the classics take concentration.
At the moment I'm having one of those jumpy phases where I've started to read about five books and not finished any of them and it's making me feel uncomfortable, but when I started Steinbeck, I had to put all the other books to one side and just concentrate on Steinbeck and it is so worth it. If I read the classics that way, they are immersive and I love that about them. They are transportive (is that a word?) and totally escapist. I also love that there are so many books which could count as classics. I am a totally obsessive list lover, and I adore that there are so many different potential lists associated with this project. I love that if I wanted to I could read purely classics from the ancient world, or only 20th century classics, or only classics by women. I have to constantly restrain myself, or else my already ridiculously ambitious list will get totally out of hand. I love that there's that much potential with the classics.
So there we go; to learn, to escape, and to make lists. :-)