Blogmas #11 | Let’s Talk Bookish: The Writing Style of Classics & Contemporaries
Hello beautiful readers!! ❄️ I hope you have all had a great week and that you can relax now that Friday has finally arrived 😴 Today, I’m doing the weekly tag Let’s Talk Bookish for the first time! Now, I’m really stepping out of my comfort zone here cause I don’t think I’m very well versed on this week’s topic 😅 Still, I’m looking forward to it, and I can’t wait to know all of your opinions as well!! This tag is hosted by Eternity Books and Literary Lion, so if you’re interested in participating head on there.
The Writing Style of Classics & Contemporaries
Do you prefer reading classics or contemporaries?
Unsurprisingly, I prefer reading contemporaries by A LOT. I don’t have anything against classics, but they are often hit or miss with me. However, I do think that this has a lot to do with our culture and how we consume media nowadays. Because of how advanced technology is, we’re used to having all of the information in the world at the tip of our fingers. Anything we want to know we can know in a matter of seconds. I believe that these behavioral and cultural characteristics have deeply impacted the literature that we enjoy as well.
I think that one of the main reasons so many people don’t enjoy classics as much anymore, is because they tend to deviate from the main narrative. At least in my experience, the classics I’ve read are very descriptive and focus on many different topics regarding lifestyle and analysis’ of the societies each are set in. Today, books are much more straightforward and usually don’t stray far from the main problem or topic. With this I don’t mean that modern books are superficial, but most of them don’t consider it necessary to stop and discuss whether or not a specific chair is a suitable place to sit in.
Besides, they also approach topics that we are more interested in reading about because they affect our everyday lives as well, which coincides with what I said before. Classics were so popular at their time because they told stories people could relate to, just like we do now. That is also why these works have transcended through time–many showcase the reality of world civilizations, dating back hundreds of thousands of years. Even though lots of people consider them outdated, a lot of what happens in those books apply to the things that we are currently living through. Having the opportunity to learn from past civilizations gives us the opportunity to be and do better in the future.
What differences do you notice between the two?
First off, the writing. One of my favorite parts about reading are dialogues–which I think are lacking in classics– considering that I’m not the biggest fan of long and detailed descriptions (not even on contemporary books), for that is something that I always struggle with. Another obvious differences would be the vocabulary. Even if the language utilized in a classic is considered colloquial at its time, it most likely won’t be for us.
Why do you think the “classics” have been designated classics and are studied in school?
As I mentioned previously, there are works of literature that have transcended and demonstrated both their worth and influence in literature, history, and culture. Despite our personal opinions on these, we should all make the effort to take into account everyone’s perspectives because it only helps us grow and broaden our minds further. However, this doesn’t mean that classic books should always be prioritized over modern works.
First of all, most of today’s ideologies differ from those of the 1700s or 1800s (for obvious reasons). So, if we are all educated based on those perspectives, even though we learn a great deal from them, we won’t be able to properly direct ourselves in modern interactions and therefore view things as they are now. Consequently, society as whole probably wouldn’t move on from those archaic conceptions, hindering any chance of cultural development that might empower minorities and promote diversity.
There are many books that have been written in the past few decades–and will continue to be written–that discuss important topics and display our generation’s characteristics and way of thinking. But that doesn’t mean that they will coincide with what will come next. Despite this, I don’t think this should diminish the value those books have. Instead, they helps us understand how people thought at the time and how that led us to where we are now.
I would love to know what you all think! Do you prefer classic or contemporary literature? Do you think it’s important to read classics? Are there any contemporary books that remind you or resemble any classics?
15 thoughts on “Blogmas #11 | Let’s Talk Bookish: The Writing Style of Classics & Contemporaries”
Loved this Pilar! Good point on classics usually being very descriptive and sometimes longwinded, as one who reads contemporary mostly as well, classics feel like huge info dumps I have no patience for haha! And definitely, classics are pretty timeless, and as much as I love contemporary for its relatability, I like to think that classics are intriguing in how the past is similar and contrasting to the present. Great discussion!
It is so hard for me too to keep going with classics. Even when they’re short, they feel long because of all the info 😅
I’m glad you liked the post Cherelle!
It’s interesting you mention dialogue. I think you’re right that today’s books have more of it. I actually generally like the writing style in classic though. Not all of them–I can leave Thomas Hardy–but I like a lot of the descriptions and the complexity of the writing. I do think part of it is that it was a different world; it’s hard to imagine many of today’s writers writing detailed descriptions about nature and flowers, etc. because I think…most of us just don’t have that knowledge anymore.
You’re right! Even though I prefer dialogues, I definitely admire the descriptions and the details we see on classics ☺️
I definitely agree with you! I do like classics from time to time, but sometimes they either feel outdated or even problematic (because of the visions they had at the time) to me. I do really like the writing styles though, haha! I’m a big fan of descriptive books!
Many classic are very problematic 😕 I think that is something that should be discussed more often, specially in academic settings.
It’s not that I don’t like descriptions… I just get very tired of them most of the time 😅 Thank you for commenting Alissa!
I’ve never thought this much in depth about classics, but I love how you expressed your ideas!! To me, classics are quite literally living history — they’re like historical fiction but even better in terms of accuracy 😉 But yes a healthy worldview should be forged from a mixture of both the contemporary and classic canons!! Great discussion Pilar ❤️
Thank you Abby ☺️!!
I loved your thoughts on this, Pilar! For me, it’s really hard to make any generalizations: there are classics and contempories I absolutely love, and classics and contemporaries I detest 😁 But I couldn’t imagine giving up either of them! I like having a good mix, I like seeing how intertextual references that came up centuries ago can still be found in books today, and I love learning how literature and how it was distributed has helped shape society. Which is also why I find the question concerning why books became classics so fascinating. There’s a lot more that goes into it than just topics that are timeless. Politics play such a huge role, too! I was actually very shocked to find out how vulgar some of the pre-18th century stuff I had to read for university was – I thought scandalous sexual topics simply weren’t talked about until quite recently, but it turns out the biggest reason why the literature we now consider to be the classical canon doesn’t include them is because back when books were printed, ordinary people couldn’t afford them. Which is why a huge majority of copies were bought by circulating libraries, which were mainly run by a few extremely Puritan families. And they very effectively censored anything from being mass-circulated that they considered sinful, which is why sexual topics all but disappeared in literature and became taboo in society, too. Isn’t that so interesting? You always look at how society shapes literature, but often forget that the opposite is true, too. Which is one reason why I love studying the classics! Though often, the stories are just really great, too 😊
Sorry for the ramble – I guess sometimes my literature degree does decide to show itself 😂
Thank you for sharing that Naemi!! I think it’s so interesting. Many people have told me before that many classic works are bursting with sexual topics, but I’ve never encountered one. So I really appreciate this explanation 😄 And you’re completely right! Even if we don’t realize it at the time, literature has huge effect on us and how we behave as a society.
Currently I prefer contemporary over classics. So many classics that are pushed at us in America are ones that don’t reflect the current state of things and can be racist. I’m looking into more classics from other countries currently to see if I will enjoy those more.
Definitely! I imagine it’s very unpleasant to constantly be pushed to read something so negative and full of unacceptable behavior and concepts 😕 I really hope you find some good international classics!!
I really don’t know= I love the classics and have fallen in love with contemporary.