Who still stand the test of time to be come a Classic?

Discussion in 'General Books' started by Overread, Feb 25, 2012.

  1. Overread

    Overread Wolfing it up! Staff Member

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    Who still stand the test of time to become a Classic?

    So I was thinking earlier today about what books from the last few decades (in fantasy/scifi) might stand the test of time well enough to last not just decades, but maybe to move up and sit beside such greats as that Shakespear chap and others who's books are reprinted decade after decade after century (failing any massive world war 3 destroying everything).


    So I got to thinking and came up with:
    1) Tolkien's Middle Earth - whilst some of the supporting works might well drift into only the serious collectors bookshelves I feel that The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings and Silmarillion at least will stand the test of time. Not just because its held in a trust, but because his single work sparked not just a whole generation, but generation after generations worth of interest in fantasy. Consider that a vast majority of todays writers are directly or indirectly inspired/prompted by his works.
    I honestly think it would take a lot to push these works out of circulation.

    2) Terry Pratchett's Discworld - immensely popular and insightful writing mixed with a good dose of wit. Although I've a feeling that, popular as they are, its yet to actually peek into being something as culturally recognised as LotR - although a lot of that might just come with time (LotR has had a lot longer to influence). I'd be very surprised if these are not still popular choices in many years to come and I would like to think that the collective works would retain a strong position

    3) A Song of Ice and Fire - its big now and I'd argue one of the biggest of modern times (for fantasy). It also hits back in a generation so Tolkien Inspired with a heavy dose of realistic influences to mix with the fantasy. It also takes things away from that comforting adventure into a much more dynamic and dangerous (if you're a character) tale.
    Of course a big part of this is if it gets finished - though I'd be willing to argue that even if it were to not be finished it might well stand the test of time.



    After that things get a little more tricky, I've a feeling Pern might well last out, though (and this is just a personal feeling) the writing style might well hold it back compared to some of the listed above. Like Discworld its also a lot of books that cover the series and many have argued that it grew weaker nearer the end (esp as her son started to write them). Personally this series might well end up just favoured by the fantasy fanatics of the further







    edit -- darn it can't ---- change ---- title ---- gah!
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2012
  2. Sparrow

    Sparrow Well-Known Member

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    I'm wondering if The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy books by Douglas Adams might stand the test of time.

    Perhaps the humor is too English and might not be appreciated, or even accessible to readers a hundred years from now.

    At anyrate, I'd definitely include The Chronicles of Narnia.
     
  3. AlphaAlex

    AlphaAlex Official Forum Nuisance

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    War of the worlds might and possibly Star Wars.
    Hitchhikers will always be there or abouts. It might be forgotten generally but someone will always remember it. I think Tolkien's work will.. not so sure about ice and fire tho, not to bag it or anything.

    I want to mention a certain book (that I feel is also fantasy) but its in poor taste so I wont.
     
  4. Saeriel

    Saeriel A Paranoid Android

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    I can't honestly think of much other than Tolkien, Douglas Adams, and yeah, maybe Pern (I have yet to meet another person who knows her books IRL, so I'm hesitant to add that one)...

    Do y'all think Potter will be known? I'm curious, considering it garnered such a fanbase.

    You can't just mention a book, then say it's not in good taste, and then not name it -.- That has to be against the rules or something.

    I will be supremely disappointed in our world if things like Twilight and other like books survive the test of time.
     
  5. Sparrow

    Sparrow Well-Known Member

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    I think Alex is intimating a certain *holy* book... shhhhhhh, I won't say it if he doesn't. ;)

    The Harry Potter books, mmmmm, that's difficult to say if they'll be read a hundred years from now. I read the entire series and that I read what's usually considered the best of the lot, HP The Goblet of Fire out of order (first)... it's what got me interested in the Fantasy Genre again. After that book I read Pullman-Gaiman-Barker-Stephenson and others. So I credit Rowling's work with getting me back into fantasy.
     
  6. Overread

    Overread Wolfing it up! Staff Member

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    Ahh I neglected Narnia and Hitchhikers and I can certainly agree that I would be very surprised if both of those didn't make it long term - though I can agree that Adams books might well only remain mainstream in the fantasy genre.


    Harry Potter - I also agree its hard to say if they will stand the test of time. They came to popularity very fast and very recently so its difficult to judge if they've the power to last a long time or if they will simply quieten down into background noise. They might just be a shorter term generation influence or they might well retain a strong position as a series (most likely aimed at younger/teen readers).
     
  7. Emelie

    Emelie Queen of darkness

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    Tolkien for sure, he's already been around for so long
    Other than that I'm really uncertain. I would like to say harry potter, and also George Martin.
    I agree with the Narnia books, although im not a big fan... But I think that Wheel of time might be one of those series that people will try and read over and over again throughout the years.
     
  8. Firiath

    Firiath Halfling barbarian

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    Actually, I already regarded the War of the Worlds as a classic. And personally, I'm quite sure The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy will also soon reach that status.

    Concerning fantasy everything I came up with has already been mentioned. In addition, I haven't read enough of the popular fantasy series to be able to judge them. :(
     
  9. LyannaWolfBlood

    LyannaWolfBlood Ella Dictadora

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    About LOTR, how popular was that in the '80's and '90's? I would certainly never have read it if it hadn't been for the films, but I was only 11 when the first one came out so it's hard for me to judge the effect the films have had on its popularity.

    Much as I hate to admit it, I think a substantial amount of the stuff I read and love will not become classics. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is awesome, but I think it's peaked in terms of popularity among the general public. It'll be a cult sci-fi classic for a long time but IMO no more than that. Harry Potter is interesting because it's so well-known - I'd bet a fair number of people who've never read the books, nor seen the films, could give me a basic outline of the story from sheer osmosis. I'm sure it'll be resurrected when the generation who grew up with it have their own kids and maybe again for their grandkids but I don't see it lasting longer than that. I think ASOIAF might make it, but it's probably dependent on how successful the t.v. series turns out to be because, like it or not, far more people have seen the series than have read the books. LOTR and Star Wars have already been around a good while and I think they'll continue to be.

    I think this is a really interesting thread and it begs the question, what makes something become a classic? Because I think it's more than simply quality of writing, although that helps. It has to be a story that people are able to keep identifying with across generations, and IMO it has to be a story that's open to being adapted and even re-imagined. I think a lot of Shakespeare's appeal is that he wrote plays, not novels, and that really gives directors the licence to play up the aspects that a modern audience can identify with. Another good example would be Arthur Conan Doyle - Sherlock Holmes is one of the most-dramatised characters ever, I think. For a work of fiction to stand the test of time it needs to seep into the public consciousness so even people who haven't read it understand references to it and even feel as if they know it. Like I mentioned above, I think Harry Potter is sort of at that stage now, but that may not last.

    Ender's Game is the only thing that hasn't been mentioned yet that I think might become a classic, although like Hitchhiker's it'll probably only be so within the sci-fi genre. It's old enough now to be hitting its second generation of readers and I've definitely heard it mentioned a couple of times as the kind of thing that parents who themselves read it as kids will give to their own children.
     
  10. Sparrow

    Sparrow Well-Known Member

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    LotR was more of a guy thing in the '70's-'80's-'90's... some of us, believe it or not, were introduced to Tolkien's work via Led Zeppelin... and then we read the books. Some classic literature fall in and out of favor; being almost dead one decade and suddenly having a second life in the next. For all the criticism Disney gets they're responsible for bringing back some great classics... Tom Sawyer & Huck Finn, Chronicles of Narnia, Treasure Island, and of course several fairy tales.

    I think Ender's Game will only be a 'classic' within the SF genre.
    Books like War of the Worlds and Nineteen Eighty-Four are pretty much broken free of genre, and are simply literary classics.
     
  11. Saeriel

    Saeriel A Paranoid Android

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    Oh >.<

    xD I feel smart now.
     
  12. Herald Of Woe

    Herald Of Woe Scourge of the seven seas

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    Tolkien and Pratchett are a given (at least in my opinion), Gormenghast by Mervyn Peake, I can see A Song of Ice and Fire becoming a classic one day and maybe even Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time and David Gemmell's Drenai Saga will too. I think also Stephen King's Dark Tower series may one day be considered a classic.
     
  13. Overread

    Overread Wolfing it up! Staff Member

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    Another interesting thing to consider is how many books might become classics because the film associated with them becomes a classic in its own right. Whilst most films are quite separate from books, any film that stands the test of time will surely have associated material with it also pulled along.

    I could well see the Harry Potter books (for example) maybe not standing the test of time, but the films (or remakes) easily standing the test and thus keeping the books classics as well.

    Also I wonder if Pullman's The Northern Lights and others will stand up against time. It's certainly considered quite a provocative work and is quite unique in that its not a pure "pro/anti" religious work but rather focuses more on the people involved and on the organisations themselves.
     
  14. Turambar

    Turambar Harebrained Staff Member

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    Re: Who still stand the test of time to become a Classic?

    To be honest, I think Pratchett will have quite a hard time being remembered, I'm afraid. I'm sure the chances are there, but there's a few things to take into account.

    Pratchett writes marvelous, hilarious fantasy. But, I think it works so splendidly because it is in a way an exact mirror of our own society. It's like Alice in Wonderland. Yes, Carroll's work survived more than a century. But it now takes a very heft annoted edition to fully appreciate the puns and twists he played on Victorian society. I severly doubt Pratchett will work as well when taken out of the context of late 20/early 21's century...
     
  15. Overread

    Overread Wolfing it up! Staff Member

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    Maybe, but I always thought the strength was more that it was playing more with the mentalities of people than with the full social structure. Heck much of discworld isn't even based fully on modern structure, but on a few generations before (consider that discworld only recently got stamps and printed money or even newspapers).

    It's more that its a nearer part of our history that its based upon rather than being fully contemporary. Thus I suspect it might well be able to stand the test of time provided that human minds don't change too much ;)
     
  16. LyannaWolfBlood

    LyannaWolfBlood Ella Dictadora

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    I think you've both got a point on Pratchett - later audiences may miss the finer points of the parody, but I think his characters will ring true for longer. Plus, a lot of the archetypes he plays with aren't exactly modern (Carrot as the "true king" for example) and I think those will remain familiar as long as people keep reading fairytales (or, indeed, fantasy).

    I think this is definitely true, particularly of the LOTR films which really opened up the series to a new audience (Thanks to Sparrow for answering my question about that above BTW :)).
     
  17. Calidore

    Calidore New Member

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    Haven't read the later ones, but Ursula LeGuin's original Earthsea trilogy deserves to be considered literature.
     
  18. Indigo Orchid

    Indigo Orchid Caveo Discipulo

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    LOTR is a classic.

    I predict Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell will be a classic in the future.
     
  19. anonymous

    anonymous the king

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    Well, I could say that Patrick Rothfuss - the kingkiller, and like ASoIaF; but it`s really hard to say, and I think maybe King`s Dark Tower.
     
  20. Midnattblod

    Midnattblod Ranger of Shadow

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    I would have to agree with LotR becoming classics in the future. I will also add that I forsee that the Malazan Book of the Fallen will at least reach a cult classic level.

    I think, as mentioned above, that the Harry Potter series is difficult to say yay or nay, it honestly depends on if the kids that my generation have love them as much as we did, and also how far into the future the movies go. I do think it will have a following for generations, but how large I can't say, because they've only been around for 2 decades there abouts. I read the first one when I was 8, and it was already paperback, so I guess just shy of 2 decades. I think the biggest bets are the ones previously mentioned.