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Classics old, classics new

For the last two weeks of Summer of Classics I'll be shifting gears. Early on, while muddling through Conrad and Melville, I came (somewhat painfully) to the conclusion that not all of the works of an undisputably classic author should necessarily be considered classics. I've now extrapolated that to a new concept, namely that not all classics are necessarily old. Certainly in contemporary fiction there is great debate over authors' merits (Ian McEwan seems to be a particularly polarizing figure, which I can't quite understand given how thoroughly I've enjoyed his work) which all but prevents the bestowing of the title "classic", but in some rare cases there are indeed newer works which seem to enjoy nearly unanimous acclaim.

Two of my recent acquisitions seem to fit that bill - William Maxwell's So Long, See You Tomorrow and Marilynne Robinson's Housekeeping, both of which seem to be truly beloved novels (or whose detractors have largely kept silent) and which I will presume to be, for the time being, Modern Classics. So I'm adding them to my Summer of Classics list, right alongside Gogol and Chandler and Agee. I've been particularly looking forward to reading Maxwell's book for a while now, so that one will be next up.

October 1, 2008 in Books | Permalink