Royce Gregerson’s article questions the literary nature of Wabash College’s curriculum, asking “where did all the great books go?” He furthers his complaint by pondering “"who even knows who Susan Gubar, Derek Walcott, Nabokov, Szymborska, and Murakami are? Who could possibly say that these represent some of the greatest books ever written?" These are very prominent authors, albeit recent ones. This dramatically argues, what is a classic?
To me, a classic is a timeless book, which I can read at any moment and feel the same spark as the first time I ever read it. Granted, there are many books written by the old masters (Shakespeare, Baudelaire, Thoreau), that I do not enjoy upon a second reading, yet these still retain their “classic” status. Based on a historic value, these authors must be “classic,” as their writing signifies a hallmark of literature in terms of literary tropes, content, and manipulation of form. The problem with this is the counter-question: does a “classic” only refer to an old book, written by someone long passed? Can there be no new classic books? There must be, as several of the “new” authors on the list above are heralded as revolutionary, and have garnered many awards. Besides, how is an author to gain the notoriety and elevated status as the Shakespeare’s of yesteryear, without being compared to them? For a class that revolves around various degrees of prominent literature, the reading list should consist of several different authors and genres, so as to get a broad spectrum of what the term “classic” really means.