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how old is a classic?

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Kveto from Prague
Compulsive Reader
Location: Prague, Bohemia

how old is a classic?

Postby Kveto from Prague » Sat June 12th, 2010, 6:59 am

Just out of curiousity, how old need a book be to be considered a classic?

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Jemidar
Avid Reader
Location: Adelaide, Australia

Postby Jemidar » Sun June 13th, 2010, 7:12 am


And what about books labeled Modern Classics?
Jenny
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"Well-behaved women rarely make history."
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Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
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LoveHistory
Bibliomaniac
Location: Wisconsin, USA
Contact:

Postby LoveHistory » Sun June 13th, 2010, 9:04 am

Well in cars it used to be 25 years. I see no reason it can't be the same for books. But then it might be good to allow extra time to see if it will hold up in later generations as well.

No clue about Modern Classics unless they are considered likely to become classics but just aren't old enough yet.

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Michy
Bibliophile
Location: California

Postby Michy » Mon June 14th, 2010, 4:12 am

This is a really interesting question. Because with books, unlike other things such as cars and antiques, there are really two parts to becoming a classic. There is the age element -- and at what age is a book considered a classic? But there is also the (for lack of a better word) "impact" element necessary for a book to become a classic; that is, how much "impact" does the book have on culture and society, and also on literature? There are many books that are old enough to be considered classics, but they're not because they're forgotten and no one reads them anymore.

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Vanessa
Bibliomaniac
Currently reading: The Survivors by Kate Furnivall & The Corset by Laura Purcell (Pigeonhole)
Interest in HF: The first historical novel I read was Katherine by Anya Seton and this sparked off my interest in this genre.
Favorite HF book: Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell!
Preferred HF: Any
Location: North Yorkshire, UK

Postby Vanessa » Mon June 14th, 2010, 8:37 am

I always thought modern classics were within the last 100 years, but what happens to them when they pass the 100 year mark, I don't know! I wonder if they have to re-classify them. I'm thinking Daphne du Maurier and the like.
currently reading: My Books on Goodreads

Books are mirrors, you only see in them what you already have inside you ~ The Shadow of the Wind

Chris Little
Reader
Location: Going back in Time

Postby Chris Little » Mon June 14th, 2010, 7:49 pm

A book need not be “old” to become an apprentice classic, but to become a master classic it ought to journey for “x” years, even if it is a prodigy. For me “x” is only 5-7 years.

(If forum members were polled in “guild” context, what percent would define Shaara’s “Killer Angels” as an apprentice, journeyman or master classic?)

Comparing books to professional athletes, sometimes you see a rookie seeming certain to be enshrined in a sports hall of fame, but can he become an all-star until he’s been in the league long enough to prove he’s not a one-year wonder? What percent of apprentices become masters?

Must the author be dead? Is Clavell’s “Shogun” a master classic, and if so, when did it become one? Is Penman’s “Here Be Dragons” classic yet? Can classic status be equivalent of getting tenure? Who is on the selection committee? Is time-in-grade required for promotion? If you create a list of HF classics for a college class, what would be the range of authors’ dates of birth? What writers now working are producing classics?

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Kveto from Prague
Compulsive Reader
Location: Prague, Bohemia

Postby Kveto from Prague » Tue June 15th, 2010, 5:04 pm

i always assumed that marketing experts use the term modern classic to say "this book will be considered a classic in x amount of years". basically the term modern classic is really an oxymoron because classic implies age as well as quality.

I guess there are different possibilities. some writers work is appreciated in their own lifetimes and still successful years on. Dickens is in this catergory, he was popular while he was alive and is still popular.

then there is work that is noticed only after the writers death, a Van Gogh effect (who sold no paintings during his life but is now very popular). Robert Howard fit this catergory. mst of his work was recognised after he had commited suicide.

then there are writers who are popular in their lives but forgotten later. like Frank Yerby.

So the only way to find out if its a classic is to wait I guess. People might consider a Steven King novel a modern classic but I doubt King will be more than a footnote 50 years from now. The same with the Harry Potter books. A big deal when they came out but you can already see them fading from peoples minds. In 20 years they might be as memorable as a 90s boy band, like say, hell I cant think of an example.


Id say about 50 years for a book to be a true classic but thats a purely arbitrary number.

Any other ideas?

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LoveHistory
Bibliomaniac
Location: Wisconsin, USA
Contact:

Postby LoveHistory » Tue June 15th, 2010, 5:36 pm

Off topic but I can name three boy bands from the '90s, keny: N*Sync; 98 Degrees; and my sister's favorite, The Backstreet Boys.

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Ludmilla
Bibliophile
Location: Georgia USA

Postby Ludmilla » Tue June 15th, 2010, 6:28 pm

One article I read (several years ago, and I can't remember where, but it was written by a literary author) mentioned that a good place to start for determining modern classics is whether the book is still in print and being read 30 years after being published. Likewise, if a book is still in print and being read 30 years after the author has died (roughly by the next generation), it shows signs of becoming a classic. I think that is reasonable criteria to start with.

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MLE (Emily Cotton)
Bibliomaniac
Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
Favorite HF book: Prince of Foxes, by Samuel Shellabarger
Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
Location: California Bay Area

Postby MLE (Emily Cotton) » Tue June 15th, 2010, 10:25 pm

That would be good, Ludmilla, except the definition of 'being in print' has changed. When a book's sales drop below a certain number, the publisher designates it to the midlist or backlist and it goes to POD (print on demand). So nothing ever goes 'out of print' any more.


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