Classics

So what makes a story a classic? Usually, people will say that a “classic” needs to have a solid statement or examination of morality, effective language, credibility, universality, and timelessness. Yet… there are a lot of classics out there that I would argue don’t stand up to some of those requirements. For example, I did not like Wuthering Heights or Great Expectations. I know they’re both considered classics, but I felt that they were lacking. Especially when compared with some other classics, like Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre.

I’m sure there are some people that really enjoyed Wuthering Heights, or even Great Expectations, but I was not one of them. I don’t mean to disparage those books (or the people that like them), I’m just using them as an example.

If there are some books that are considered classics that don’t hold up to the universality, effective language, or another aspect of being a “classic”…then what is the real definition of a classic?

I don’t really have an answer, or an idea to suggest (though I’d be interested in hearing yours). I hope it isn’t just a matter of “this book has been around for this long” because classics are books that are given extra weight in English classes and other scholarly pursuits. If it’s just a matter of a book lasting long enough then even the most horrible rambling could eventually be called a classic…

And if it is more the case that the definition still holds, who gets to decide which books qualify? Because obviously, not everyone is going to agree…

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