Friday, September 7, 2012

Brown Bag Book Club

At the September meeting of the Brown Bag Book Club, in addition to discussing our current books, we discussed some of our favorite classics.

What is a classic?  The answer to this question could vary greatly upon who you ask or what list you consult.  For sure, we are not the first to ask it.

In 1850 Charles Augustin Sainte-Beuve (1804–1869) stated his answer to the question “What is a Classic?”:
“The idea of a classic implies something that has continuance and consistence, and which produces unity and tradition, fashions and transmits itself, and endures…. 
 In 1920, Fannie M. Clark, a teacher at the Rozelle School in East Cleveland, Ohio, consulted a group of eighth-graders when she asked them the question: “What do you understand by the classics in literature?” Two of the answers Clark received were “Classics are books your fathers give you and you keep them to give to your children” and “Classics are those great pieces of literature considered worthy to be studied in English classes of high school or college”. 
In the 1980s Italo Calvino said in his essay “Why Read the Classics?” that “A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say.”  [1]

It would be safe to say that a classic would be a book that could outlast the time in which it was written. 
Just as there are a plethora of opinions on the subject, so is there a wealth of lists which you could consult. Here are just a few:

While the debate and the lists go on and on, here is a list of some favorites mentioned at this month's meeting:

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas
Black Beauty, by Anna Sewell
Little Women, by Louis May Alcott
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith
Home from the Hill, by William Humphrey
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams

For a list of more contemporary books we have discussed, see the Shelfari list in the left column of this website.
The Brown Bag Book Club is an informal group that meets at the library on the first Wednesday of each month at 12:00 noon.  There is no assigned reading list.  You can come anytime and not be behind.
Next meeting: October 3, 2012.

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