Where have all the Classics gone?

When was the last time you read Moby Dick or perhaps Pride and Prejudice? It seems that more and more often classics are overlooked in today’s world than ever before. What’s worse is that they are free on kindle. These days you can walk into any bookstore and will be confronted with a myriad of books on display in an attempt to seize your attention. It seems logical enough to put the new books out front for potential readers to engage them and hopefully buy them. But do these books compare with the classics? Are New York Times Best Sellers going to relate as well as inform? Or is it just another biography about a cast member from a famous reality television show. My guess is it is just that. It seems as if the mainstream media has hijacked literature in an attempt to achieve maximum profit. It’s not about content, but only what is popular in the eyes of today’s youth. At the end of the day, are we sacrificing our children’s ability to have access to quality books that will enrich their lives? Certainly any book about a boy wizard would be entertaining for any child, but can it be compared to say, The Tempest by William Shakespeare, even though that boy wizard garnered millions of dollars in profit?

There seems to be a modern version of what quantifies success in the 21st century and that is sales. Sales are what put a book on a pedestal for the entire world to see and adulate in. But as time passes, something bigger or better comes out and what is popular is quickly considered out of fashion. Many books that are considered “best-sellers” do not stand the test of time. They become irrelevant and are cast into the dark corner of our imagination to be lost.

It is the classics that we come back to time and again. They are becoming more eclectic, in the sense that they are being read by some segments of the population as well as literary aficionados. They are still appreciated as the works of art that they are but in such a way that an aficionado would appreciate a good cigar or perhaps someone who appreciates a good wine vintage. So why is it that they quickly being forgotten by today’s youth when clearly in terms of quality they stand on their own?

In most cases it appears that there has been a saturation of literature written that attempts to engage with the younger generations. As time passes books are written at lower reading levels to meet a demand of those who perhaps aren’t educated at a level to read complicated works such as those by Milton or Conrad. To add to that, there is little marketing for the likes of Homer or Dickens either: their publicists are long dead and their only exposure appears to be re-created in Muppet films. Being relevant in today’s world takes work on part of the person wanting to be relevant and if you are not alive to do so then you are doomed to be forgotten.

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