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Friday 5 March 2004

1984... [brit]

Sitting on the tube this morning, I ended up people / tunnel wall watching, since I'd forgotten to grab my current read from work on the way out. As people shuffled on and off, I was amazed to see the sheer number of fellow travellers clutching various books; 7 in 10 had a book of some description tucked under their arm or in hand.
Then an old boy gets on, sits down and pulls out a very battered and very yellowed copy of George Orwell's 1984. I remember thinking 'ah, a classic', and reflecting briefly on the absolute crap I generally plough through on my daily tube journeys. It did however get me to thinking; what makes a classic? What other truly classic books are there that everyone *should* read at least once; if not have a copy tucked away on their shelves at home?
The sad fact is, I can't for the life of me offer any suggestions of my own beyond perhaps Animal Farm and Death of a Travelling Salesman; and I fear both of those are more to do with the fact my A Level English Lit & English Lang exams were based on them... so long ago.


  1. Farenheit 451 and Brave New World spring to mind.

  2. It's a taste thing innit? I mean I'd consider Lord of the Rings a (predictable) classic, but if you didn't like wizards and obbits you wouldn't like it eh? I don't see why everyone *should* read anything.

  3. I think Brit's not suggesting that. There has to be certain criteria that makes a book a classic, regardless of whether you enjoy it or not. e.g. Groundbreaking - was it the first of it's kind or has the style never been used before. Influence - on 'people''s thinking / society, Originality - does it bring something genuinely new to an existing genre. Popularity could be used as a measure but not exclusively so.
    Ekcetela,Ekcetela,Ekcetela as the king of Siam was fond of saying :)

  4. Whether or not you like wizards and hobbits, LOTR is still a classic because it is one of the great epics of English literature - it's simply massive in its scope, tying several different plotlines together over six novels.
    In a similar vein, though perhaps less popular: the original 'Dune' to me will always be a classic - it combines aspects of politics, intrigue, action, and analysis of the human condition into one (long!) compelling story, set in a rich and detailed universe.

  5. classics are the ones that keeps readers over time, that never dies. so they have to be popular. but i dont think there are books that you need to read. but if there are, i think its the big religous shit. bible, koran & co. course, they are all so full of shit its almost impossible.
    i miss how it was when i was a kid, every fucking book i read was great, instantly transporting me into some weirdass world.
    without drugs it just cant be done these days :)

  6. I never figured you for the reading sort. However, because of you, I have inserted a line into my current novel that goes 'I fight you!'. That's because of you Hans, without you it never would have happened. It brings a tear to my eye I tell ya.

  7. Which eye I ask ya?

  8. I enjoyed Machiavellis 'The Prince' for the first time recently. Not necessarily an entertaining read as such but definitely very interesting, and also happened to teach me quite a bit about the development of 'Italy' a few hundred years ago.
    If you like Sci-Fi in any form, I strongly reccomend the Kim Stanley Robinson 'Mars' trilogy.

  9. Hmm well blog 181 would surely be the definitive exploration of that genre.

  10. Hunter S. Thompson 'Better than sex'
    just have to love it