This interesting article by Liz Foley is on the The Man Booker Prize site and tries to determine what makes a book a classic. The author quotes Mark Twain's assertion that it is a book that people "praise but don't read," before giving her favorite answer by Italo Calvino, "A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say." I can certainly agree with that...although I don't find that any of the prizes Pulitzer, Booker, etc. necessarily choose books that I would consider classics. I'm sure there are lists available to see the prize winners over several decades and determine which books have lived up to their promise of both critical and popular success.
Foley makes some good points about the way we determine classics and says that we make a mistake if we consider classic works "as historical artifacts rather than vibrant, engaging, hugely varied pieces of writing." Another point that Foley makes concerns the influence some classics have on modern writers.
"The connection between the classics and modern writing gave Vintage the idea to celebrate the launch list (Booker Prize)--the Vintage Classic Twins." I have to admit that the ten pairings (of one classic, one modern book) leave me bewildered as I've only read one of each pair and can't make much of a judgment. For example, I've readThe Inferno by Dante but not Sabbath's Theater by Philip Roth and I've read Possession by A.S. Byatt, but not Middlemarch by George Eliot; I've read one of each of the ten pairings, sometimes the classic, sometimes the modern twin, but in no case have I read both. The list of ten pairs can be found here, where there is also information about a contest to find a twin for Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie--the prize is the a complete set of all ten Vintage Classic Twins--I'd like to win the prize, but haven't read Midnight's Children.
Yesterday when I arrived at the Cottage, Mr. P. bumped into me with his walker. I saw him coming, with a big grin all over his face. He pretends like he doesn't want attention, but he loves it. I told him he shouldn't abuse me, as if outraged by the gentle bump, and he said, "Well, you have a rope down your back." My braid.
Laddie was much more talkative yesterday than he has been lately, although the words he wants often escape him, he knows what he wants to say. He was sitting at the bar eating a slice of red velvet cake and drinking coffee when I arrived, and greeted me with a big "Jenny Claire!" Very rewarding to me; so far he has always known me, but avoids using my name more and more frequently. He now will introduce me (he does this every time to exactly the same people) as his daughter to avoid having to say my name. When he got tired, he said, "Do you have everything you need?" When I assured him that I did, he said he had to leave and would see me later.
Today, off to Baton Rouge to see the grands!