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BTT: Staying Power

November 19, 2009


Don’t forget to leave a link to your actual response (so people don’t have to go searching for it) in the comments—or if you prefer, leave your answers in the comments themselves!

Today’s question was suggested by Barbara:

Do you think any current author is of the same caliber as Dickens, Austen, Bronte, or any of the classic authors? If so, who, and why do you think so? If not, why not? What books from this era might be read 100 years from now?

Well, if you’ve been here (on my blog) for a post or maybe two, you know that Dickens and Austen aren’t my favorites but I’ll try to answer this question the best I can.

In my mind, Wilde, Steinbeck, Hemingway, Swift, and Wells are the ones to keep a hold of. The witty, the poignant, the classic, the satirical, the dreamy, the philosophical. In that respect, I am a terrible judge for what will be considered classic writing in years to come. I’d like to say Rushdie. I’d like to say Pynchon. I’d like to say Eco. Do people read them, today? I’m not sure they do. Does that mean they won’t eventually? I’m not sure.

I think that a lot has changed since the says of Dickens and Austen. There were fewer reading options both in the sense that fewer people read and there was simply less coming to the shelves. In the days of Victoria, only the upper crust had the means to read, thus making stuffy,  unlovable “classics” the top of the list. These days, anyone who has $15 bucks or a library card can be well read.

To me, Dickens and Austen are not fine literature but simply what a few deemed popular in the moment. I’m sure that King and Grisham will be remembered fondly by many as they hit the best seller lists often. I’d prefer for people to remember Nick Laird and David Eggers. Will they? Will cult classics inch their way into the public catalog of books that were? Only time will tell, won’t it?

12 Comments leave one →
  1. November 19, 2009 6:42 am

    Don’t forget Harry Potter and the Da Vinci Code. :- )

    I think there are many there will stand the test of time. Atwood, Coetzee, Camus, de Beauvoir, etc.

    But you are right – the majority of the world (i think) are in some way literate and with a library card, anyone can access books. Even online.

    • November 21, 2009 4:42 am

      I agree with this. For sure, Harry Potter will live.

  2. novelinsights permalink
    November 19, 2009 6:44 am

    I think Atwood is a good one Mae. And I definitely agree with Wilde and Steinbeck, although I think they already have a level of posterity. You’re right though, it may well be the popular ones that are remembered. My guess is that it will be the ones with films made too.

  3. November 19, 2009 8:56 am

    Don’t Forget Stephen King 🙂

    I believe everyone know who he is tho they never read his works…he is like a rockstar in book industry

  4. November 19, 2009 9:22 am

    Harper Lee, Atwood are also amongst those whose work would be remembered!

    Booking through Posterity

  5. November 19, 2009 9:53 am

    Terrific answer!! Very well said!

  6. November 19, 2009 10:35 am

    Agreed. Cheers to cult classics. 🙂
    Here’s my link;

  7. November 19, 2009 10:38 am

    You brought out some considerations I haven’t thought of. But I disagree that the older classics are stuffy and unlovable — if everyone thought so, they wouldn’t still be read (voluntarily, not just as school assignments) all these years later when there are so many other options available. By definition a classic is not what was just popular in the moment but rather contains truth and/or beauty that resonates with people years later and makes them willing to wade through the differences in language, mannerisms, etc.

    • iwriteinbooks permalink*
      November 19, 2009 1:37 pm

      Guess I just don’t understand the thrill behind those two specifically. They’re not, for me, intellectually stimulating nor are they really that rivetting in story. I guess I like better writing and more social allusion. But I think it’s just personal prefference. They certainly wouldn’t pass Wilde or Steinbeck for me.

  8. November 19, 2009 2:44 pm

    “These days, anyone who has $15 bucks or a library card can be well read.”

    So true!

    I agree with your choice of Umberto Eco. He is one that I listed as well.

  9. November 20, 2009 12:59 am

    I think there will be room for cult classics especially with print on demand and ebooks. My list is here.

  10. stacybuckeye permalink
    November 21, 2009 1:33 am

    It really is hard to say, since so many ‘classic’ authors were not appreciated in their lifetime. That gives us all hope for our obscure favorites.

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