What is a classic book?

    By J. Peder Zane

    Italo Calvino defined it is as a work that “has never finished saying what it has to say.” Ezra Pound said it possesses “a certain eternal and irrepressible freshness." And the 19th century French literary critic Charles Augustin Sainte-Beuve declared that “[it] has discovered some moral and not equivocal truth, or revealed some eternal passion in that heart where all seemed known and discovered.”

    At first glance, these definitions of classic/great books seem on the mark. Under their umbrella of excellence we can fit undisputed works of genius from “The Iliad” and “The Divine Comedy” to “Pride & Prejudice,” “Anna Karenina” and “Invisible Man.”

    Unfortunately, they rest on a fallacy – that any and every book that exhibits these qualities will be considered a classic.  Read more ...

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    New List

    Josephine Humphreys

    1. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville (1851).
    2. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (1884).
    3. The Moviegoer by Walker Percy (1961).
    4. Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich (1984).
    5. Edisto by Padget Powell (1984).
    6. Bleak House by Charles Dickens (1853).
    7. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (1955).
    8. The stories of Flannery O’Connor (1925–64).
    9. Light in August by William Faulkner (1932).
    10. Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre (1938).




     

    Classic List

    Wally Lamb

    1. The Odyssey by Homer (ninth century b.c.e.?).
    2. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes (1605, 1615).
    3. King Lear by William Shakespeare (1605).
    4. Tom Jones  by Henry Fielding (1749).
    5. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (1884).
    6. Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser (1900).
    7. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925).
    8. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (1939).
    9. The stories of Flannery O’Connor (1925–64).
    10. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez (1967). 


     





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