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When it comes to classic novels, such as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, it’s pretty mind-blowing to think that a book published 200 years ago has managed to maintain strong interest from literary fiends worldwide to this day. But how? What is it about Frankenstein and countless novels such as Pride and Prejudice, Don Quixote and To Kill a Mockingbird that earns them such ‘classic’ status?
Professor Lyn McCredden from Deakin University’s School of Communication and Creative Arts says there are a number of aspects which solidifies a novel’s place among the greats. According to Prof. McCredden, ‘The term “classic” is usually used to describe books which have enduring ideas and themes, but also which are written in rich, evocative, powerful prose. Rather than reducing ideas to cliché, or over-used images and terms, a strong literary work can excite us with its challenging writing.’
Perhaps most importantly, though, classics are the kind of literature from which we can even learn a thing or two; they allow us to enter a different world without even having to leave the living room. ‘Many classics enable us to experience otherness. That is, they allow us to read about lives and experiences across history, from different classes and cultures.
They open us up to other modes of being, to experiences and situations we need to understand more about, teaching us to empathise.’ Prof. McCredden says.
So whether it’s writing that challenges or stories that impress, it seems there is more to creating classic literature than simply being able to craft the perfect sentence. Take the quiz below to find out how well you know the classics.
Fancy yourself a literary fiend? Check out Deakin’s options to pursue literary studies.
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