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Thread: modern writers or ancient classics?

  1. #1

    modern writers or ancient classics?

    Do you prefer reading books by modern day writers or the old classics?

    I prefer reading classics but occasionally I find myself reading the latest bestseller.

    I'd be interested in hearing your views.

    Best wishes,

    Fan Gao

  2. #2
    Registered User Goodfella's Avatar
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    Huh! Do you wanna hear mine? OK...I just prefer reading any suitable one, eh? And suitability can be found with both these types. Thus, I can't say it, because I don't know which can be which? Lol....I hope am clear.

  3. #3
    That's exactly what I think too. The problem is that it's not very easy to find good books written by modern day writers. They say great books need to stand the test of time. I'm too busy to test them one by one by myself.

    Thanks for your reply!

  4. #4
    I would refer you, chineseconcept, to this post. I do not wish to imply that you disfavour the classics (as you have stated that you do not), but I thought you might find it interesting.
    As Kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame . . .


    Why disqualify the rush? I'm tabled. I'm tabled.



  5. #5
    Voice of Chaos & Anarchy
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    Swift's "The Battle of the Books" was about this question. The battle ended in a draw. I think that would still be the case. The are classics that are truly great, and there is some contemporary fiction that is truly great. Alas, many books are published that are a waste of paper. The trick is to find the flowers among the weeds.

    BTW, I disagree with the definition of "classics" that the Unnamable quoted.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by ShoutGrace View Post
    I would refer you, chineseconcept, to this post. I do not wish to imply that you disfavour the classics (as you have stated that you do not), but I thought you might find it interesting.
    That's a good post you point out. It's a shame The Unnamable decided to leave the forums after the ridiculous Bandini controversy. I think the forums have suffered without them, but that's a different story.

    I agree with Thoreau on this subject:

    "Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all."
    Last edited by Wild Apple; 09-16-2006 at 10:52 AM.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by PeterL View Post
    The trick is to find the flowers among the weeds.
    And yet, how can we do this, if we are not afforded the time?

    Quote Originally Posted by PeterL
    BTW, I disagree with the definition of "classics" that the Unnamable quoted.
    Well, just for kicks, can you explain why?

    Quote Originally Posted by Wild Apple View Post
    That's a good post you point out.
    Yes, he always did convey his ideas clearly, and with pertinent examples from both literature and literary criticism, didn't he?

    Quote Originally Posted by Wild Apple
    I agree with Thoreau on this subject:
    "Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all."
    Good quote . . . although isn't the idea that the quality of "best" or even "better" is hard to determine (unless we latch onto a definition like the one The Unnamable provided)?

    Although, the opening post merely referenced preference, didn't it?
    As Kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame . . .


    Why disqualify the rush? I'm tabled. I'm tabled.



  8. #8
    Voice of Chaos & Anarchy
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    Quote Originally Posted by ShoutGrace View Post
    And yet, how can we do this, if we are not afforded the time?
    Make the time. It's easy to chop out the worst. Romances and trash are obvious trash, but finding the good in new fiction requires taking some time to look at what is out there. I generally go author by author. When I find a good author, I read all or most of that author's work, but there are some authors who have written one or two books that were good among a pile of garbage, King is a fine example of that.

    Well, just for kicks, can you explain why?
    “I define a 'classic', in literature, in music, in the arts, in philosophic argument, as a signifying form which 'reads' us. It reads us more than we read (listen to, perceive) it.

    I would contend that what makes a book a "classic" is not what it says, but how it says it. A classic has to say something about what it is to be human, but every novel does that to some degree. There has to be something to distinguish Lolita from porn, and there is: the style, the art of the way that the words were put together. It also helps that Lolita has symbolic meaning (Nabokov referred to it as "A Cup of Hebe" in Pale Fire).

    That is just one example, try contrasting The Da Vinci Code and Foucault's Pendulum. They deal with the same theme and some of the same information, but one is written about a symbologist, while the other was written by a semioticist. One is a thriller, and the other is art.
    Last edited by PeterL; 09-16-2006 at 12:39 PM. Reason: typo

  9. #9
    Boll Weevil cuppajoe_9's Avatar
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    The best living writers, talented as they may be, cannot hope to compete with the best dead writers. They just don't have the numbers.
    What is the use of a violent kind of delightfulness if there is no pleasure in not getting tired of it.
    - Gertrude Stein

    A washerwoman with her basket; a rook; a red-hot poker; th purples and grey-greens of flowers: some common feeling which held the whole together.
    - Virginia Woolf

  10. #10
    X (or) Y=X and Y=-X Jean-Baptiste's Avatar
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    I don't discredit contemporary work, or claim that it cannot match the classics; I hope, someday, to contribute to the world's body of literature, and such a thought would necessarily be directed at all of my own future efforts: If new cannot be as good, and I am new, then I cannot hope to be as good as the classical writers. In any case, I do prefer to read classic literature--simply as a follower of Kierkegaard and one seeking a solid education. Kierkegaard said that education is catching up with one's self, which entails absorbing everything that has come before, before moving into what is happening now. Therefore, for me it is not a matter of which is better, it is simply a more structured approach to take things in chronological order.
    These fragments I have shored against my ruins

    James Joyce, the pirate. Why don't you write books people can read? -Nora Barnacle

    Insupportable claim: Reading my stories will make you a better person. Do your best to prove me right. http://www.online-literature.com/for...ad.php?t=20367

  11. #11
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    As most probably know of me amongst the forum, I typically stick with the classics in literature. I do not necessarily claim the classics as 'better' or 'higher' than contemporary literature, but more in alliance with my preferences; with a few exceptions, I find most contemporary literature, to place it nicely, never within the boundaries of my taste.
    Regardless, in most literature, I love seeing its roots, spanning from classic Greek and Roman plays to the epics of the Dark Ages, the gems of Realism, the amazement of Romanticism, falling into Absurdism, all of the way to common literature of today. Nowadays, though I think we live among very few brilliantly written material, I feel relatively optimistic of the future.

  12. #12
    Watcher by Night mtpspur's Avatar
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    I believe the classics vs contemporary usually will fall on the side of the classics. They are (the classics) generally a known quality (if taught in schools) and their reputation has been attested to (whether pro or con is moot). Contemporary writers have so much competition to be heard by an auidence spread thin thru their daily activities. Like it or not society moves at a faster pace wringing out the last drop of the 24 hour day. I'm never been sure if Reader's Digest Condensed books were a curse or a blessing (when pressed and grumpy I vote curse--it took the fun out of skimming past the boring parts). People have to be prediposed to spend time with an author. To simplify on the comic book level--do I read Superman or try an unknown quanity like Alan Moore's Watchmen with my sometimes earned dollars? Supes usually got read first and yet Alan Moore slowly begins working on the idea that there IS MORE OUT THERE if you'll take a chance.

    SideNOTE: This does not work well in Christian writings. I'll take an old timer like Thomas Watson or Matthew Henry anyday over the 'knowledable schlolars this generation is producing.

  13. #13
    Boll Weevil cuppajoe_9's Avatar
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    Jamesian : the vast majority of magazine publishers are not in the business of selling magazinges to audiences. They are in the business of delivering audiences to advertisers. This creates a preference for 'safer' works. This is why I have to leave the province if I want to read a decent newspaper.
    What is the use of a violent kind of delightfulness if there is no pleasure in not getting tired of it.
    - Gertrude Stein

    A washerwoman with her basket; a rook; a red-hot poker; th purples and grey-greens of flowers: some common feeling which held the whole together.
    - Virginia Woolf

  14. #14
    If grace is an ocean... grace86's Avatar
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    I like them both actually. I have not been reading the classics too long, but I do like them a lot better than the contemporary. I have read some contemporary literature that is just garbage - but there have been some really great ones too that are favorites.

    We have to remember the classics were contemporary at one time and that trashy novels existed then too. Just had to weed out the junk.
    "So heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss, and my heart turns violently inside of my chest, I don't have time to maintain these regrets, when I think about, the way....He loves us..."


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    I prefer the classics, however there are many modern books that I really liked, so I really can't decide.

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