LT Spring 2011 Classics Challenge Wrap-Up
When I announced this cycle of the Challenge, I was hoping to discover some books that might be considered “contemporary classics.” To that end, I picked a selection of books that combined definite classics—like ones by E.M. Forster, Balzac, and Virginia Woolf—and some newer works that seemed like possible classics contenders—some A.S. Byatt, some Marquez, some Ishiguro. So the question at the end of this cycle, more than at the end of others, must be: what did I find? And was I successful?
Imagine the surprise of this nineteenth century enthusiast to discover that, largely, I actually enjoyed the “contemporary classics” more than the actual classics! This may just be because of the choices I made and the “classics” ones just weren’t that good. Not classic-y enough perhaps? All the same, of the newer books, I am wholly convinced that Gabriel García Márquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera is the most likely to be come a classic. It’s ineffable, just like my certainty that Bleak House is a classic, but I’m still sure that it’s true. The others were very obviously great novels (particularly Possession and The Remains of the Day, I think) and far more beautiful than I expected them to be, but I’m not sure they will be classics. Again, ineffable.
And what of the “actual” classics? I didn’t particularly love any of them, sadly, but if I had to pick my favorite of the bunch I would go with E.M. Forster’s Room with a View, a choice which, if nothing else, proves I should really only read classic literature if it is written by nineteenth-century Brits. I often have trouble enjoying French literature (despite my numerous attempts to love Colette!) and Virginia Woolf has never been easy for me.
What did you all make of these books? Did we successfully find contemporary classics?
While you’re pondering that, let’s all put our hands together in congratulations to Em, who is the winner of this cycle of the LT Classics Challenge for her comments on The Remains of the Day and Possession! Em, please drop us an e-mail at literarytransgressionsATgmailDOTcom to claim your prize.
The next cycle of the Classics Challenge should be announced in the coming weeks. For now, I’m just going to take a breather to enjoy reading books for fun again and hopefully get some reviews up on LT. If anyone has books they would like to suggest for inclusion in the next cycle or any other thoughts about ways we can improve the Challenge, sound off below!