“The man who does not read good books has no advantage
over the man who cannot read them.”--Mark Twain
“To destroy the Western tradition of independent thought it
is not necessary to burn the books. All we have to do is leave
them unread for a couple of generations.”--Robert Hutchins, The Conflict in Education
CLASSICS SEAR US.
Most serious readers are convinced they need to read the classics, whether for personal enrichment or cultural preservation. But what is a classic?
“ Lit. is Life.” I’ve told my students that for almost three decades. Some years I write on my syllabus “Life 101” rather than American Literature I or Survey of World Literature. Great books breathe. Kingsley said, “Except a living man, there is nothing more wonderful than a book! A message to us from...human souls we never saw...and these arouse us, terrify us, teach us, comfort us, open their hearts to us as brothers.”
I became a literature teacher because I love to read and I love to analyze people and ideas. I can teach philosophy and psychology when I teach literature. Quality literature affords us chances to act, judge, think, and feel. I can agree or disagree with the epiphanies of authors as I try to understand more fully human nature. Great literature is the catalyst for intellectual, imaginative, emotional, and spiritual growth.
A classic will SEAR you. Unlike too many films, books, and most of television forgotten within an hour, classic literature burns or brands us in some way. Ten years from now some may not remember much of the plot of Great Expectations but all remember Miss Havisham, the crazy lady who wore her wedding dress from the moment she was jilted at the altar until the day she died. Once we've read To Kill a Mockingbird, we remember Scout, Boo Radley, and Atticus--partly because they are unique characters but more because they have universal character traits. They are like real people we’ve met, perhaps only briefly, who have left a mark on our lives.
Classics don’t go out of style. They affirm or change us, but they always affect us.
Classics: Stimulate thought
Align details to create a coherent whole
Relate to our lives