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Christian College Geelong Senior Library: Lovers of literature

The Classics

What defines a ‘classic’? This is a piece of literature which has been  recognised as a masterpiece, often the most well-known book by the author. It  epitomizes the author’s literary style and technique and has been praised by professional critic and casual reader alike.

Published by T  B Forshaw, March 5, 2009    http://bookstove.com/classics/why-read-the-classics/

Why Read the Classics

Italo Calvino

  1. The classics are the books of which we usually hear people say, “I am rereading . . . ” and never “I am reading . . . “
  2. We use the words “classics” for books that are treasured by those who have read and loved them; but they are treasured no less by those who have the luck to read them for the first time in the best conditions to enjoy them.
  3. The classics are books that exert a peculiar influence, both when they refuse to be eradicated from the mind and when they conceal themselves in the folds of memory, camouflaging themselves as the collective or individual unconscious.
  4. Every rereading of a classic is as much a voyage of discovery as the first reading.
  5. Every reading of a classic is in fact a rereading.
  6. A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say.
  7. The classics are the books that come down to us bearing the traces of readings previous to ours, and bringing in their wake the traces they themselves have left on the culture or cultures they have passed through (or, more simply, on language and customs).
  8. A classic does not necessarily teach us anything we did not know before. In a classic we sometimes discover something we have always known (or thought we knew), but without knowing that this author said it first, or at least is associated with it in a special way. And this, too, is a surprise that gives much pleasure, such as we always gain from the discovery of an origin, a relationship, an affinity.
  9. The classics are books which, upon reading, we find even fresher, more unexpected, and more marvelous than we had thought from hearing about them.
  10. We use the word “classic” of a book that takes the form of an equivalent to the universe, on a level with the ancient talismans. With this definition we are approaching the idea of the “total book,” as Mallarmé conceived of it.
  11. Your classic author is the one you cannot feel indifferent to, who helps you to define yourself in relation to him, even in dispute with him.
  12. A classic is a book that comes before other classics; but anyone who has read the others first, and then reads this one, instantly recognizes its place in the family tree.
  13. A classic is something that tends to relegate the concerns of the moment to the status of background noise, but at the same time this background noise is something we cannot do without.
  14. A classic is something that persists as a background noise even when the most incompatible momentary concerns are in control of the situation.

Italo Calvino
“Why Read the Classics” (excerpt)
from The Uses
of Literature
http://des.emory.edu/mfp/calvino/calclassics.html

Why not one of  these classics!

Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy has been decribed as thrilling story of seduction, murder, cruelty and betrayal. The Times

Tess is an innocent young girl until the day she goes to visit her rich ‘relatives’, the D’Urbervilles, in hope that they might help her alleviate her
own family’s poverty. Her encounter with her manipulative cousin, Alec, leads her onto a path that is beset with suffering and betrayal. When she falls in love with another man, Angel Clare, Tess sees a potential escape from her past, but only if she can tell him her shameful secret…

*************************************************

The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy

“A tale of true tragedy……wonderfully vivid and strong” Joanna Trollope

The Mayor of Casterbridge is a man haunted by his past. In his youth he betrayed his wife and baby daughter in a shocking incident that led him to swear ever to touch alcohol again. He has since risen from his huble origins to become a respected pillar of the community in Casterbridge, but his secrets cannot stay hidden forever and he has many hard lessons left to learn.

*****************************************************

Kindapped by Robert Louis Steveson

When young David Balfour is orphaned he discovers some surprising truths about his family. His meeting with his uncle Ebenezer turns out to have disastrous consequences leading to kidnap and imprisonment on board a ship bound for the Carolinas. However, the voyage is full of incident and after violent conflict and a shipwreck, David finds himself in a daredevil chase across the Scottish Highlands in the company of the irrepressible warrior Alan Breck Stewart…

*****************************************************

A Town Like Alice by Neville Shute

“A ripping tale of budding romance and grace under pressure” The Times

Jean Paget is just twenty years old and working in Malaya when the Japanese invasion begins. When she is captured she joins a group of other European women and children whom the Japanese force to march for miles through the jungle – an experience that leads to the deaths of many. Due to her courageous spirit and ability to speak Malay, Jean takes on the role of leader of the sorry gaggle of prisoners and many end up owing their lives to her indomitable spirit. While on the march, the group run into some Australian prisoners, one of whom, Joe Harman, helps them steal some food, and is horrifically punished by the Japanese as a result. After the war, Jean tracks Joe down in Australia and together they begin to dream of surmounting the past and transforming his one-horse outback town into a thriving community like Alice Springs…

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