What is a classic? There isn’t a single definition, but there are some common characteristics in the ones put forward by authors and scholars. Classics are books that are widely accepted as noteworthy throughout a long period of time. However, they are not classics only because they are old. Books regarded as classics feel fresh even centuries after being written.
I have read quite a few classics. Ones I loved, some I only enjoyed, while others I just couldn’t see the reason why people kept on reading them after such a long time. My five favourite classics are:
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Elizabeth Bennet is my favourite of Jane Austen’s heroines. She is intelligent, playful and witty, but tends to judge people on first impressions. She is the second child in a family of five daughters, whose mother is eager to get them married. After all, “it is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife”. Is there a better opening line?
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
The character that gives name to the novel, Anna Karenina, starts an affair with the bachelor Count Vronsky after visiting her brother in order to help him fix his marriage, which is in peril thanks to his philandering. But my favourite part of the story is the relationship between Konstantin Levin and Princess Kitty. This is a really long novel that focuses on many topics: love, politics, the feudal system, social class and morality.
Os Maias (The Maias) by Eça de Queirós
Os Maias is a Portuguese classic that is a captivating novel of manners mixed with a love story. In the novel, Eça de Queirós intertwined two main plots that lead to a troubling revelation. One focuses on the relationship between Pedro da Maia and Maria Monforte, and the main one is about the love story between Carlos da Maia and Maria Eduarda.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
Throughout the novel, Jane Eyre narrates in the first person episodes from her life since her childhood. The great catalyst for the novel’s main events is her employment as a governess at Thornfield Hall, when she falls in love with her employer, Edward Rochester. Great observations are made regarding love, feminism, morality and social class. However, it features one of the most annoying characters ever included in a novel: John Rivers.
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
When Basil Hallward paints a portrait of Dorian Gray and praises his beauty, he has no idea what he is unleashing. Afraid of losing his beauty, Dorian Gray sells his soul to ensure that his picture instead of him ages and decays. Afterwards, he leads a libertine lifestyle leading to tragic events. This could have been a perfect book if it wasn’t for the too long and boring passages describing Dorian’s study of perfumes, music and jewels during chapter eleven.
What are your favourite classics? Tell me in the comments!