Why you MUST read English Classics
Maidens with dreams in their eyes and an aching love in their hearts, young men off to defend their country in a war that never seems to end, stories of old men and older ideas, summer afternoons spent in struggling to understand Shakespeare’s Old English, Annual Day adaptations of Huckleberry Finn; these are the first few things that immediately pop into your mind when someone dares to talk about Classic English Literature.
As students, reading Classics was an inevitable necessity. As we grew up, we began to enjoy this once dreadful task. The very quality of the book to be reinterpreted in ways unimaginable and to put into perspective the present day scenario using examples from the past, redeems it; sets it upon a pedestal, one which every book aspires to sit upon.
Classics have always carried the tag of being boring and preachy, bearing silently the brunt of English Literature on its age old, weathered shoulders. And yet, even after all this time, Classics find a significant, cozy place on every book-lover’s shelf and how. These books stand testament to the fact that man and his primary problems have remained the same irrespective of how much we may seem to have advanced. They tell us how it is possible that someone who walked this Earth decades before us, felt the same things, thought the same thoughts as us, faced the same problems as we do today. They show us that our seemingly gigantic problems have been overcome once before and that we are not alone in our struggle. It doesn’t come as a surprise then that readers most often turn to Classics for support, looking perhaps for a hand to hold through the dark times. For example, for a teen going through an identity crisis, Charlie’s journey through teenage in ‘Perks of being a wallflower’ could provide the companionship that they’ve been looking for.
If books can be called as man’s best friend, I believe that Classics should be the soulmate.
For a writer, a Classic is a storehouse of ideas and an effective means of enriching the vocabulary. A model idea around which the writing and reading styles of today have been built. They are but a roadmap for a writer on his journey of writing.
A classic in all its complexity challenges the very moral ground on which the reader stands; often raising him/her beyond mediocrity and encouraging them to become free thinkers. The reading of classic literature has contributed to the radical thought traffic in the world. Classic literature has produced revolutionaries who have developed the ability to rise above petty issues and think beyond their time. In a time like ours where tolerance is at an all-time low and humanity seems to have taken a backseat, we are in dire need of a revolution of thought, one that can be achieved by encouraging the reading of Classics.
Pathos, love, struggle, the three main ingredients of humanity find a home in Classics, often acting as the centerpiece around which the story is woven. A classic is less of a story and more a journey through time, a journey of understanding the causes and effects of events in history in context. Classics have a way of changing our lives in ways we can’t even begin to comprehend. The same Holden Caulfield you grew up hating in your teens, might go on to make sense in your mid-twenties, you never know. It might make for a lot of heavy reading, but the sheer experience of reading the book and finding out the history of the story makes it a feat worth accomplishing.
In short, Classics are what keep us rooted to our history, helping us understand our present better in order to be able to create a better future.