It’s so Classic Book Tag

I was reading Ruth’s interesting entry with this title, It’s so Classic Book Tag, hosted by Rebellious Writing, and I realized that she tagged me to do it. I’m supposed to tag five others to do this, but I don’t know if you’d like to do it. I’m thinking about Janakay, Chris, Kim, Sherry, Maria in Spain, Amy, Brona, Bellezza…

These are the questions and my answers:

Fortunata and Jacinta actresses left to right respectively, from the Spanish TV series.
  1. What is one classic that hasn’t been made into a movie yet, but really needs to?
    I’m such a disaster. I used to watch more movies and TV series when I was young. I am sure that I’ll publish this post, and many answers would then come to mind. Right now, I really don’t know.
  2. What draws you to classics?
    They never disappoint, even when we don’t like them at first read or at all, I’m always happy to have read them. They have many layers, they elicit the highest possible reading, they constitute a hyperlink to other classics and to life, they are ground-breakers in the sense that they establish something new while rooting to a continuum of the human experience and the literary continuum with all its branches. They are not just good books, they are experiences that stay in your system forever. They are extraordinary, -understood both as wonderful and out of the ordinary-, both in form and content, or at least in one of those. Ever since written, people of all ages and places have been conversing with them and with each other through them. They are a piece of the universal literary genome.

    Whether the classic contributes in a huge capacity, or in a more humble way, all of them are essential. Whether I like the classic in question right away, or it takes me more than one attempt, and even when I don’t like it, I know they are worth being read. I’m addicted to all they provide, they fulfill my wants and needs alike.
  3. What is an underrated classic?
    Fortunata and Jacinta. To all who love XIXth serialized literature, (Dickens, Eliot, Thackeray…), please try this Spanish jewel. It was also published in installments. It has 4 parts of almost equal extension, now in one book.
  4. What is one classic that you didn’t expect to love, but ended up loving anyway?
    Many fit in here, that’s one reason why I love classics. But I’d add the last one. I thought Cry, the Beloved Country, would be such a boring book. But it wasn’t. It was painful, hard, but also full of hope and beautifully narrated.
  5. What is your most favorite and least favorite classics?
    This is really difficult. I can’t really say. Apart from the fact everyone who knows me know how much I love Don Quixote, I also have lots of favorites which, in their category, are truly favorites. As for a least favorite, I just remember that I can’t appreciate Virginia Woolf’s fiction books, so yes, you may say she’s my least favorite classic author, which makes me feel truly bad, as I know it’s my fault.
  6. What is your favorite character from a classic?
    The ones who go to a journey, such as Don Quijote and Sancho, Voltaire’s Candide, Odysseus, Nazarín, -unconventional protagonist in a novel by Galdós-, Guzmán de Alfarache, -Spanish picaresque title from 1599 more known in the Spanish world of letters-, Bunyan’s Christian, Nelly Bly from Around the World in 72 Days. It may be because I’m an immigrant who once left her home and made a journey into a new life. Conversely, I also love coming of age characters, since that’s a life’s journey the characters go into.
  7. What’s a popular classic that you felt wasn’t actually that great?
    There’s many classics that have made it to the classics list by force of popularity, and because they fulfill a genre, or because they are relevant to the young, or because they bring up moral issues we all like and need to reflect upon, for example The Catcher in the Rye, Lord of the Flies, Animal Farm, The Giver, Fahrenheit 451, 1984. When I read them as an older person, they felt flatter. I believe they carry more weight when read in our young years, and specially when we discuss them with others. Their power is in the discussion they elicit.

    But there’s two books about a spiritual journey, Siddhartha  and The Alchemist, specially the latter, which is very popular, and I appreciate having read, which I think enjoys a lot of popularity for what it is. And yet, both of those books being short, are more approachable, and though profound in their questions, they are also relatively easy to read and follow. Maybe that’s why they are more widely read.
  8. Who is your favorite classic author?
    Benito Pérez Galdós in Spanish. I also have to add that a newer classic author I like is Kazuo Ishiguro. And a more consolidated classic author in English I cherish would be Ray Bradbury.
  9. In your opinion, what makes a classic a classic?
    The fact that they are always read by many across time and place. We may not be able to define what makes those books a classic, but we know which they are. They keep circulating among readers, being reprinted and read no matter what critiques think of them, what schools dictate, readers keep them alive.
  10. Relating to newer books, what attributes does a book need to have in order to be worthy of the title “classic”?
    There will be some future among the popular titles, that, with time, people will decide they are worthy representatives of our era, and that will place themselves beyond average, even if right now they are lost in the midst of other possible candidates. Those time will sift.

    Other titles may be more hidden, not so popular, they may be a bit ahead of ourselves for us to know how important they are. Probably they are also difficult for many of us to appreciate at the current time. Some classics need some distance to be seen for what they are. They have to possess that timeless quality, and the characteristics I mentioned in my definition of the classics. I wish I could look into the future to spot a few of them. However, I always wonder if they still won’t feel like classics to me, most likely not, or not all. We all like to place bets on a few titles that are making a bit of noise in certain places and among some groups.

Tagged by Ruth, at A Great Book Study.

12 thoughts on “It’s so Classic Book Tag

  1. I hope you enjoy Marianella. I need to reread it. I read it in high school and don’t remember loving it, just it being okay. I guess sometimes we read our own inexperience in books,. hahaha.

  2. I enjoyed reading about your favourite Spanish classics and authors (Marianela was the only one I could find published in English in Project Gutenberg though. It’s now in my e-library.)
    As you know I struggled with Don Quixote earlier this year – maybe I need to try a movie version?

    Like you, I think a classic needs to stand the test of time, across multiple generations or readers. I wonder which 2019 books will still be read in 2119?
    I might jump on this tag when I get the time – thanks 🙂

  3. Wow, Janakay. The more I know about you through your reading, the more I enjoy our friendship across the Internet.
    When I don’t see you posting, I already know you are enjoying life and school.
    Re-reading, specially that which I did not appreciate initially, is fascinating to me as well.
    Journeys of the soul describes it perfectly. And I ditto the hope for the human race they give us.
    It’s so unbelievable that you read Fortunata. Galdós is a master of the dialogue to me. And quite humorous. There’s no character he doesn’t give proper treatment and development, no matter how small.

    The tags. I am not very versed either. I just went to the original post to copy the questions and I linked to it. I loved this questionnaire.

  4. Hi Silvia! I’ve been missing for most of August and I’m just getting around to catching up on a few blogs that I enjoy; yours was at the top of my list! This was a great post — it really made me think about how we experience certain great books and why they continue to speak to us. I’ve always been interested in the “re-reading” phenomenon, i.e., the experience of absolutely disliking a book the first time around (in my case, it’s usually a classic) and then on a re-read, years later, thinking it was fabulous. This happened to me last spring, when I re-read Great Expectations, which I absolutely loathed in high school. I’m almost ready now to give Dickens a second chance!
    I, too, am very big on classic characters who go on journeys, particularly journeys of the soul if that doesn’t sound too pompous. I love characters who start out in one place, spiritually or mentally, and end up up somewhere different as a result of being able to process their experiences. These journeys frequently, alas, aren’t necessarily happy. King Lear anyone? Even less grim stories, however (Austen’s Elizabeth Bennet or Emma, for example) also involve elements of change and growth. I think I like these type of stories so much because they give me hope for the human race!
    I just realized as I read your post that I HAVE read a novel by Galdos — Fortunata and Jacinta, in fact! This was years ago, when I’d never heard of Galdos and rarely (even less than today) read anything in translation; a colleague recommended this novel highly and gave me his copy on an indefinite “loan” (it did take quite awhile to read). You’re absolutely right in that anyone who enjoys 19th century realistic fiction should really enjoy this as well; I can imagine that the TV series is quite a treat.
    I’m a bit new to blogging and book tags — it sounds fun, but I don’t quite understand how it works . . .

  5. Such interesting answers Silvia! I particularly like what you wrote about what draws you to classics. I agree that even if it was a book that I didn’t love, generally I find the experience was worth it and it will stay with me for a very long time.

    And YES to these books as the building blocks of literature and part of an ongoing conversation. I would like to stop time for a while and go back and read the Greeks, the Romans, the Bible, The Tale of Genji, etc. – get a real classical education. 😀

  6. Fortunata and Jacinta sounds wonderful Thanks for the recommendation!

    I like your answer about characters being on a journey. That happens so often in classics, and I think a hallmark of a book that becomes a classic is that we feel it’s taken us on a journey from which we come back enriched and changed. Even if the characters don’t outwardly travel, they need to take us with them somewhere … or the book’s appeal and reputation will not last.

  7. Yes, Ruth, I enjoyed A Room of One’s Own and also a couple of her essays on reading and writing, those were so good.

    Glad to hear you too like Sancho.

  8. Silvia,

    I have struggled with Virginia Woolf, too. But I really, REALLY enjoyed her non-fiction: A Room of One’s Own. Have you read this one?

    Also, you made me think of Sancho. He was fabulous. I definitely liked him, much more than DQ.

    Agree…classics are not just good books…they are experiences!!! : )

    Good point about the need for time and distance before we discover if a book will become a classic.

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