Friday, November 26, 2010

Contemporary AND Classic?

Literary Blog Hop

This week's question from the
Wise Readers at The Blue Bookcase is:

What makes a contemporary novel a classic?
Discuss a book which you think fits the category
of ‘modern classics’ and explain why.

No. No. No.
I will allow a nonfiction book to be literary.
I will accept that a contemporary novel can be literary.

But no, no, no.
 A contemporary novel cannot be a classic.
A classic is a book that has stood the test of time.
A contemporary novel, by definition, has not.

Google-search "contemporary classic" and this is what you will find:

You get scary people, like this scary woman.
She's "contemporary classic".

And this large purple shoe.
And that's not just a large purple shoe.
It's a large purple shoe bathtub.
That's "contemporary classic" for you.

You see what happens when you start
using ridiculous phrases like "contemporary classic"?
Trouble, that's what.

So stop it. Now.

I do concede that there are "modern classics".
But, frankly,
I'm out of energy to take on "modern classics" today.
I will have to leave that to another thoughtful reader.

 How about you?
Are you from the scary hairdo,
purple shoe bathtub
branch of literary theory?
Do you believe in "contemporary classics"?
Go ahead and tell me off.

Or check out:
Win a Trip to Paris or a $25 Amazon Gift Card!
What to Read This Holiday Season?
See What I'm Thankful For This Thanksgiving
(That's the house of my next-door neighbor, by the way.)
or join me Thankfully Reading.



  1. You made me laugh out loud!! No, I don't believe there is such a thing as a modern classic, or a contemporary classic... only contemporary books with the potential to becoming classics. But I LOVE your take on it!

  2. Interesting post! I immediately thought of Catcher in the Rye and To Kill a Mockingbird as modern classics, as well as Confederacy of Dunces. Would you consider those classics? I'll have to think about this some more!

  3. Ahahah!
    I think you'll be glad to see that most participant agree with you and also believe that only time will tell...

  4. Just saw a typo when pressing "post comment"... Grrr

  5. Ha ha, I like your post. As I said in my post, I have trouble too with contemporary classics.I think you need 50 or so years before you can call a book a classic. And enough reprints.

  6. omg that bathtub is ABSURD! hahaha love this post and your take on contemporary classics :)

    Happy Friday!

  7. hahaha! That's brilliant! Gotta love those photos. Hahaha.

  8. I'm working on defining "classic" for my own classics project. I started out thinking maybe age had nothing to do with it, but now I'm reconsidering. I don't like the term contemporary classic; modern classic is better, or even potential classic -- a book that will most likely become a classic but that isn't yet because it's not old enough.

  9. So glad you're going to be part of THankfully Reading Weekend.

  10. Very fun post! Contemporary is different from Modern, isn't it? Contemporary Classic is a funny term indeed.

  11. contemporary classic = oxymoran to me.

    (But I have to admit, I'd love to have that purple shoed bathtub in my house. *blush*)

  12. I agree. Contemporary is not classic! Also, I kinda want that purple shoe bathtub! haha

  13. Very funny! I do agree that only time will tell, but I think there's fun to be had guessing who might make it onto the must-read lists of our great-grandchildren!

  14. Love your post and you got me thinking.

  15. I agree, there are no contemporary classics. That is silly. But as I said in my post (thanks for visiting!) I feel there are modern classics. I love the pictures you used in this post! :) fantastic. That woman in scary.

  16. HAHA! The shoe bathtub is super weird. I love the pictures you used to probe your point.

  17. A quick perusal through my collection of dictionaries (sad, but true), comes up with this as a definition for Classic -(1) of the highest rank or class(2) serving as an outstanding representative of its kind & was originally used to differentiate Greek & Roman writers from the Romantics, which is quite amusing, when you think what is described as classic now. Enjoyed your pictures & your viewpoint

  18. Have to agree, contemporary classic is a bit of an oxymoron. Still there are contemporary books that have the potential...

  19. Love the post! also,I just wanted to let you know that I've given you the Versatile Blogger Award. Come and check it out.

  20. Possibly your best post ever. I'm quite astounded by the purple bath shoe. I love your choice of visual to prove your point. Absolutely Fabulous. And I agree with your no, no, no answer. Absolutely no point in me having a go at this question- you've nailed it.

  21. Scary, scary lady! God help us is that model represents classic anything!

  22. What a great 'contemporary' response to the question! I admit, google search queries can chuck up some random results... I've had some shockers in the past.

    But I'm afraid I have a different take on this. I like the idea of an instant classic. After all, most books are based off other books or at least contain ideas from other classics. The seed is already there... it is up to the author and their literary ability to work that information into something that resonates for the reader.

    Great post!

  23. I'm very much of the opinion that there's no such thing as a "modern classic." The term is a complete oxymoron.


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