Sunday, 3 June 2018

Q: "What is a classic book?"

Writer Italo Calvino had fourteen answers to what makes a book a classic. These are my favourites:

  • The classics are books that exercise a particular influence, both when they imprint themselves on our imagination as unforgettable, and when they hide in the layers of memory disguised as the individual's ... unconscious.
  • A classic is a book which with each rereading offers as much of a sense of discovery as the first reading.
  • Classics are books which, the more we think we know them through hearsay, the more original, unexpected, and innovative we find them when we actually read them.
  • A classic is the term given to any book which comes to represent the whole universe...
  • 'Your' classic is a book to which you cannot remain indifferent, and which helps you define yourself in relation or even in opposition to it.
What are some of your classics? (Regular readers will already know many of mine!]

[Hat tip Alberto Mingardi writing about one of his (and my) classics, Robert Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress]


  1. The Lagoon Joseph Conrad

    1. Only read three of his so far, and enjoyed them all. I might try this one next.

  2. The Forgotten Soldier - Guy Sager.


  3. So not Barry Crump, A good keen man, then

  4. Darkness At Noon - Koestler
    For Whom the Bell Tolls - Hemmingway
    Huckleberry Finn - Twain

  5. Lolita - Nabokov
    Light Years - Salter
    Brideshead Revisited - Waugh
    The Remains of the Day - Ishiguro
    The Great Gatsby - Fitzgerald
    The Magic Mountain - Mann

    1. Brideshead and Gatsby are good reading. Just trying Salter's 'All That Is,' which seems promising. But I never got the appeal of Nabokov, particularly that one. Can you explain it?

  6. "Sailing Alone Around The World" Joshua Slocum
    "Surely You're Joking Mr Feynman? " Richard Feynman
    "The Fountainhead" Ayn Rand
    "Islands In The Stream" Ernest Hemingway.
    "The Short Stories Of Saki" HH Munro
    "On The Road" Jack Keroauc
    The majority of Christopher Hitchens' later works
    ...and there's more.

    Chris Robertson.


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