Visiting Risa’s blog and attending my last lessons on Caribbean literature, I came across the following question:
What is a classic and who tells us what to read?
There is a bunch a titles in English literature that seem to have read by almost everyone, at least, that is the popular perception. However, when asking people not too many have actually read them. I am talking about Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Great Expectations, Oliver Twist, The Woman in White, A Room of One’s Own and the likes.
Studying literature in college should assure me to read a good number of them, but it is not so. One Dickens’, one Brontë and Collins, one Fitzgerald, one Hemingway (as you see they are almost all men!) if you dare to chose an optional subject in your last year. Despite their literary relevance -I would swear The Woman in White has more influence in nowadays detective literature as Sherlock Holmes does- we do not really get to them.
It is in our teachers’ hands to choose not only what to read, but also who and when. Asking first years to read Dickens may not be a good idea so, which author is good for a starting point? When is it the moment to introduce students to novels that need a background research/history and philosophy knowledge?
What’s your story regarding classics and reading? How do you choose what and who to read?
I must admit I read almost every compulsory reading in college and then I try to read another kind of literature in my free time: from bestsellers to another classics not included in my programms, I shift from one quality to another. Sometimes, I need a rest from deep ideas and buy a New York Post bestseller’s list and others, I do my own research. There are lots of fields I do not study at college: Southern authors, some “classics”, Irish authors and feminist literature among others. I try to cover them all as much as I can.