This week’s question is:
What makes a contemporary novel a classic?
Discuss a book which you think fits the category of ‘modern classics’ and explain why.
A very interesting question because it is very subjective question and is dependent on what readers view as being a modern classic. What one may think is a modern classic, another may think its not a modern classic. But what I think makes a contemporary novel a classic is that it is a work that has something of value to say that is able to draw attention to human problems and that condemn or applaud certain points of view. It also has effective language that is suitable to the message that the author is trying to convey and allows the reader to believe that what happened to the characters was inevitable and could not have been prevented. The story should also have a universal appeal; that is, the story should hold meaning or appeal to a wide variety of readers and have lasting interest to readers long beyond the initial appeal of the book.
One book that I think may qualify as a modern classic is Atonement by Ian McEwan. First of all, it draws attention to the issue of atonement and what is the nature of atonement. While the novel doesn’t say how one should go about atoning for wrongly accusing somebody of something as serious as rape, it does look at how a person may carry around the guilt of accusing a person for such an act and how it can affect future behaviour. The language in the book allows one to engage with the book in the sense that you can feel the guilt that Briony feels for her actions towards Robbie Turner and how that then affects her future behaviour and you also get the sense that Briony’s accusation would have happened and there would have been nothing to prevent it from happening. McEwan’s language is such that you feel the anguish that Briony feels for her accusation against Robbie, even though she knows the truth and refuses to acknowledge it. I suppose that it doesn’t hurt that the book takes place during war-time and the epic feel of Robbie’s journey to the shores of Dunkirk make it a novel that will appeal to people in the future.
While I am trying to say what I think why the book could be considered to be a modern classic, it doesn’t seem to want to get out and is basically just a pile of mush inside my head. I hope I made at least some sense and that you know what I was aiming at.