Many people today can’t decide whether to read classic literature or not. On the one hand, it seems to be hopelessly outdated. But on the other hand, it can instill in us high ideals, which supposedly no longer exist in modern literature. The writers that create in modern times are blamed for superficial plots, implausible relationships, shallow dialogue, and so on. The problem is that these allegations are based on the books everyone knows, like Fifty Shades of Grey, Twilight, The Hunger Games, and other bestsellers. But modern literature is not limited to these books exclusively.
At Bright Side, we tried to figure out whether or not classic literature really does deserve reverence and modern literature, contempt.
Classic literature doesn’t provide a modern person with what they need.
With rare exceptions, we, our parents, and our children have studied the same literary works at school. Meanwhile, times are changing — now people’s interests are different from the ones people had several decades ago. The classics begin to seem boring because we don’t know the realities described in them. Sometimes it’s difficult for us to understand what’s at stake since we don’t have such experience. However, modern literature describes the reality we live in, which is why many people choose to read it.
Of course, there are eternal themes, like the relationship between parents and children, romance, patriotism, love of nature, animals, and so on. However, even these things change. We don’t address our parents as “sir” or “madam,” we don’t sing serenades under windows, and cats and dogs have become our family members. We really can’t find any of these things in classic literature.
Women are the main buyers of books. The target audience for classics was men.
Women are believed to be the main readers of fiction. According to statistics, men prefer popular science genres and read less in general. The reason for this is the different attitudes toward literature between men and women. For example, women perceive books as a way to escape from reality, while men read them as a manual for furniture assembling, for example.
Since books tend to inspire and support us, it’s not surprising that many people prefer modern literature over the classics:
- The main character in classic novels is usually a man.
- Even if it’s a woman, she’s portrayed as an addition to a man and depends on him for everything.
- There are practically no strong female characters in classic pieces.
It’s quite difficult to think of these classic stories as a form of advice, monitoring, or a way to escape reality. Modern books, on the contrary, offer us an abundance of strong female characters, like the dystopian novel, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood or Zuleikha by Guzel Yakhina (which, by the way, has also been filmed).
Classic novels and stories are usually written in a complicated language while modern texts are quite simple as a rule.
On one hand, the language of classic literature is very difficult. Remember the sentences in Leo Tolstoy’s books that were a whole page long?! But these texts are difficult to read for one more reason: they contain many words, the meaning of which we can no longer understand. These are the names of objects and professions that no longer exist and words that were fashionable at the time of the book’s creation that eventually disappeared.
For example, a modern person has no idea that a yellow ticket was issued to ladies of the oldest profession in the world, while a bustle was a padded undergarment used to add fullness or support to the backs of women’s dresses.
On the other hand, the language of the classics is very rich. It’s here that you’ll have a refined syntax, unusual comparisons, and various metaphors that you will almost never find in modern literature. In addition, classic literature is able to replenish your vocabulary, which is also an undeniable advantage. It can even help improve your critical thinking.
Previously, only people in-the-know could choose the profession of a writer. Nowadays, anyone can become an author.
Currently, you don’t even need to look for a publisher to publish your book — everything can be done for the right amount of money. This freedom leads to a huge number of works being published all the time. As a consequence, an unimaginable amount of literature has been introduced to the market, most of which can be easily deemed terrible.
In addition, many modern writers follow an unspoken rule: you should only write about your own experience. Personal experience is interesting and exciting. But when all books are based on experience, usually including something tragic, like the loss of parents or loved ones; a struggle with various addictions, and so on, you’ll want something fictional, romantic, and versatile. Because no matter what one may say, people’s experiences are more or less similar.
Wonderful novels are published in modern times too. In the past, there were many bad novels, they’ve just been forgotten.
Is modern literature really as bad as everyone thinks? Actually, it depends on what you read. If among the thousands of novels released this year, you come across 2 or 3 books of poor content and quality, it doesn’t mean that the remaining thousands are the same.
The problem is that it’s difficult to find a good book among thousands of others. We usually choose a book based on recommendations and reviews in online shops. Unfortunately, these reviews and recommendations are given to books whose authors have taken care of advertising. But there are many great writers who don’t have the money to do this.
In the past, the book market was, of course, much smaller, but even at that time, there were poor novels and stories. They haven’t stood the test of time and have been forgotten. That’s why it seems that all classic literature is refined and of high quality, while modern literature is not.
Do you read classic or modern literature? What’s your favorite book? Tell us in the comments below.