There must be a reason why classics are called classics. There's this whole aura around them that makes you feel so different, and not just because they belong to a specific period in time. There was dystopia back then too, futuristic stuff, incredible science fiction and best of all, incomparable fantasy. What is it that makes us go back to classics for that 'complete and unabridged' feeling of satisfaction? How are classics so appealing? In this online course (MOOC) called The Future of Storytelling, they mentioned the way literature transformed; how earlier it was "more group and culture based" and now it is "more introverted and individualistic".
Stories were more about a place as a setting and then about the characters who form an integral part of the story. Important characters were barely just one. There were complete, imaginative worlds where fantasy came in. Humans interacted with other living forms by talking and hanging out with them without feeling weirded out. If you got to take advice from a caterpillar, you simply did. You did not make faces or feel strange or think it's unnatural. If you wanted to fly to Neverland and meet naughty pixie fairies, you simply needed to believe that you could fly. You didn't wait for a superhero or logic to come into the picture. I love that optimism, that simple, unbiased acceptance of the world for what it is. I love the lack of criticism and analysis. It makes me as a reader feel how vast and believable everything is, how it is simple and possible if you just believe in it. It's not always how it happens in real life but you're far better off if you hold on to these beliefs you inculcate while reading, one major reason being that you're always optimistic!
Let's consider some examples. Peter Pan (J.M. Barrie) is an imaginative story beginning with the simple idea of a boy who doesn't want to grow up, which is pretty much a normal feeling in kids. When you read the story, however, you're so drawn into that boy's adventures, his feelings and thoughts and behaviour, his interactions, other characters who're associated with him and a whole new world of Neverland where you meet pixies and pirates. When you read The Wizard of Oz (L. Frank Baum), you see a normal girl in Dorothy who falls into an adventurous situation and there're scarecrows and talking animals and witches and castles.
I remember being absolutely petrified and hooked to The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (R.L. Stevenson) when I first read it, just because it was so different (and scary) from anything I had ever read. It was a piece of wonder and I was nothing short of amazed. It's such a deep story, coming out of the concept of man having two sides: the good and the evil. A Christmas Carol (Charles Dickens) was just as creative and although slightly dark, it's beautiful in the way it's told. There are many other examples, including Gulliver's Travels (Jonathan Swift), Frankenstein (Mary Shelley), The Invisible Man and The Time Machine (H.G. Wells) that make you feel so warm and nice and 'classic' when you read them!
Have an open and accepting mind, and you'll love all these stories. I watched Alice in Wonderland (Lewis Carroll) yesterday when its second movie adaptation was running on HBO. I haven't read the book as yet but I do like the story. It's so full of characters, yet you don't feel lost. It's a small, unique world. It shows the protagonist of the story as a strong, dreamy and imaginative girl who likes to do as she likes and has the ability to stand up for her own. Apart from what she does in Wonderland, it's quite cool the way she behaves when she's at the family gathering with her family and relatives, the way she signs up for a business deal instead of allowing her mother to marry her to a lord. This book came out in 1865. Awesome, much? :)
It's not just about the magical, it's about the stories based on societies and human-people too. They're all incredibly detailed and imaginative. I'm not denying the unique essence of modern literature, new genres and quick reads, but classics such as these have their own sense of time. You always feel different with such books. If you haven't read these, I'd suggest you should! A personal recommendation would be Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and although I read it in school, an abridged version most probably, I'd still think it's worth a read.
“With every day, and from both sides of my intelligence, the moral and the intellectual, I thus drew steadily nearer to the truth, by whose partial discovery I have been doomed to such a dreadful shipwreck: that man is not truly one, but truly two.”
What do you think? Do you like these books as much?
PS- How about the blog's new look? ;)