Defining “Classic” Literature

A 2009 article from The New York Review of Books. An excerpt:

What is a “classic”? Is it simply (as Frank Kermode, I think, once put it) an old book that we still read? Or is there something a bit more sinister to the whole idea? An old book you feel you oughtto have read? Or is it more casually serendipitous: An old book you have rediscovered and want to share with the world? And what does a “classicist” (in the Greek-and-Latin sense of the word) have to contribute to the debate?

See partial answers at the above link. Some of the comments are even better.

Copyright secured by Digiprove © 2011 James Ament

3 thoughts on “Defining “Classic” Literature

  1. More to the point: Kermode’s definition strikes me as being as good as any. I’m not sure what a classicist has to say; even 100 years ago, one could hardly claim to be educated–one might not be admitted to the better colleges–without a sound grasp of one of the classical languages, but now that is certainly not so. I’m grateful to NYRB for bringing out its series, to be sure. Counting the books I have and those I’ve given away, I’ve probably bought a couple feet of them.

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