A Student of History

March 1, 2007

The classics are, well, classic!

Filed under: Great books — John Maass @ 3:37 pm

This truly warms my heart, from the Guardian:

In the poll for World Book Day today, the highest-ranking contemporary adult fiction novel is Sebastian Faulks’s Birdsong, which came only 17th.

By contrast, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte was third; Wuthering Heights by her sister Emily was seventh; and Great Expectations by Charles Dickens 10th.

A modern classic boosted by a film trilogy, JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, came second, the Harry Potter books fourth, the modern US classic To Kill a Mockingbird fifth, and George Orwell’s 1984 equal eighth with Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials.

Is it a surprise that Pride and Prejudice came in 1st? 

The Bible is in sixth place, thanks particularly to over 60-year-olds. However it figures in the top 10 of every age group over 25.

The Complete Works of Shakespeare was in at 14, just before Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca and two slots after Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles.

The most striking feature of the survey, the organisers said, was that “classics are still the most essential reads“.  (My emphasis, of course.)

The article goes on to note that “the top 100 bristles with provenly enduring quality, from Joseph Heller, George Eliot, Tolstoy, Kerouac, Lewis Carroll and AA Milne to John Steinbeck, Arthur Ransome, Joseph Conrad, Kazuo Ishiguro (for The Remains of the Day) and Conan Doyle. The last three titles to squeeze in are a characteristic mix: Hamlet, Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables.

Pride And Prejudice[Ms. Jane Austen]

The entire list is here.  I may try to read all of them by the end of the decade….except of course the titles that fall under the “fantasy” or “sci/fi genre.”

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