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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.