Literary Blog Hop for November 25-28

Question: “What is your stance on the idea of contemporary classics? What novels do you think fit the bill now, or, if you think like me, may at some future date?”

My initial response: Contemporary classic? Isn’t that an oxymoron?

When I think ‘contemporary’ I think bestseller list, and when I look at that I see John Grisham and David Baldacci and James Patterson and frankly, it makes me a little bit worried about the quality of novels America loves. Sure, for escape, they may be great. But do I consider them classic material? Not so much.

What are the novels I’ve loved this year?  The Wind In The Willows; already a classic. Madame Bovary, The Brothers Karamazov and Bleak House the same. Have I read anything with the mood, the lessons, the plot that these novels give? In a word, no.

But, there are novels which I think will have a lasting value, which will have an impact on generations to come.

Silence by Shusako Endo, for one. Because it addresses Christianity and apostasy, and I think these are issues which will become more and more relevant in this changing world. One where our faith makes us more and more volatile, no matter what faith it is that we adhere to.

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17 thoughts on “Literary Blog Hop for November 25-28”

  1. I often wonder how future generations will view the books on today's bestseller lists. If there were such a thing in mid-1800's England, Charles Dickens would have most certainly topped the list. At the same time, books like Moby Dick were received with a shrug. Good post, I need to find a copy of Silence. It looks like a good book.

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  2. Thanks, Rachel!Petekarnas, you wrote such an interesting post on this question for your own blog. You brilliantly, because it was so spot on but simple, said, "The man simply knew how to tell a good story. That’s what people remember and that’s why his books continue to be read generation after generation." To me that's the best reason of all for a book to be a classic: it's interesting! It's multi-layered, it captures and absorbs my attention. Shall we include Murakami in our list?Readerbuzz, Endo's writing is so fascinating. His topic is most often faith. Another one of his works that I loved was Wonderful Fool.

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  3. If you take classic to mean- of the highest, class or rank,any great writer, composer or work, or as serving as an outstanding representative of its kind,(Chambers 20c dictionary) does it then clang so harshly with the term Contemporary, because looking through my collection of dictionaries (sad, but true)I also find that the term was "originally & chiefly used of the best Greek & Roman writers (as opposed to the Romantic)and was used to mean writing in a classic style (Chaste, refined, restrained etc.) which is thought provoking considering what's consider classic now.I also Chose a shusaku Endo, in my case The Sea & Poison, being one of the two books by him that I've read, although this is on my to do list.so thanks for reminding me of a great bookParrish

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  4. Silence sounds like something I should read, relevant and thought-provoking, Thanks for sharing. Have you written a review on it? As for modern classics, I've recently reread The Great Gatsby and I have to say, that should be considered a modern classic. Now, the question is, will a new movie adaptation spoil it?

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  5. I have enjoyed reading many classics this year too, including The Woman in White, Wives and Daughters and Independent People. Most of the contemporary literature I have read has come under the heading of "fun reads." Of the new titles I've explored, I'd say Verghese's Cutting for Stone might become a classic.

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  6. I think some of the work of Murakami may well become classics-like Wild Bird Chronicles-some of the early work of Kenzaburo Oe, some for sure of Junichiro Tanizaki-his early work may already be classified as a classic but I think in time all of his work will be-

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  7. Parrish, thanks for telling us about The Sea and Poison. I've not read that Endo yet, but as I thoroughly enjoyed both Silence and Wonderful Fool, I'm sure I'll get a lot from your suggestion.Arti, our book club just read The Catcher in The Rye, and we had a guest leader who's a high school literature instructor. He imparted so much wisdom about that novel, but also mentioned how much he loves The Great Gatsby. I think I need to sit in his class, or see the new movie adaptation.Colleen, I just bought Cutting for Stone from Costco upon your recommendation. I'm really looking forward to it.Ingrid Lola, I'm not sure that one is hooked right away by Silence. It's more of a sink slowly into tremendous meaning kind of thing. He makes me contemplate every angle of my faith/his story.Mel U, I so wanted to put one of Haruki Murkami's books in my list! I love Kafka On The Shore best, followed by Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, and I can only hope that he will be as beloved by others as he is by me in generations to come.

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  8. I think the phrase contemporary classic is a bit of a problem since something can only be classed a "classic" if it's stood the test of time. Having said that, I'm sure that there are plenty of current novels that will fit the bill- but we don't know what they are yet!and thank you for your sweet words today on my blog. it's been so much fun getting to know you this past year & reading your blog, and I'm so glad the Persephone Secret Santa brought us together!

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  9. Dear M, A warm hello and hug for the holidays, having nothing to do with your blog entry (but it IS beautiful here, as always, and a delight to visit whether or not I've read or am reading your featured book.)You sent me a book to read, lo many months ago and I'd like to return the favor, but having changed my email address since, I no longer have yours. Would you send it to my email so I can "gift" you, in turn, during this lovely holiday?I am at dilosciale at charter dot net.

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  10. I'm far behind on your posts and after reading far back, I want to respond on each. Alas, I'll tell you I just received my first catalog from Persephone and I keep fingering the pages. Such lovely choices, I don't know where to begin. I, too, feel that the Grisham/Patterson bestsellers will not survive the test of time. Mind candy for those that seek a quick story and lack of involvement with character. I suppose they serve their purpose. A Prayer for Owen Meany is a great book. I have been so very disappointed in Irving's last few books. I love the new photos. My favorite – the young woman soaking her feet and reading. How many years I've done the same, I can't count. Of course, the hair dryers are most fun.

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  11. I love how you so succinctly responded to my conglomoration of posts! I've been disappointed in Irving's last few novels, myself. Not that I was head over heels with the first (Hotel New Hampshire, World According to Garp, Owen Meany: all begun, never finished. But, I will read a Prayer For Owen Meany after all the accolades people have been leaving.)

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  12. I was thinking about this recently when I joined a SF book club that defines a "classic" as anything older than 30 years old. Although I've never made a conscious choice of my own definitions, examining it now I would probably think of a "contemporary classic" as a book that is perhaps 10-30 years old and has some legs to it with a "classic" being something written pre-1970-75. Now I do think there is room to talk about more recent, contemporary books that one thinks are "destined" to become classics. Given the possibility of some permanency to what is put out on the internet it is a great time to speculate about what books might turn into the next "classic" only to look back later to see how prophetic one's predictions were.

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