By Ryanne Co
April 07, 2021
Classic literature is filled with rich stories of death-defying adventure, exciting romance, and heartwarming friendship. Take a look at some classic novels listed here so you may wander in their pages too (if you haven’t already)
Classic literature is a little misunderstood; they’re not as talked-about as pop culture picks, and their use of language can be a little archaic. Nevertheless, these books are classic for a reason: they imbibe an everlasting sense of humanity that can be appreciated throughout multiple generations. If you haven’t yet, perhaps now is the time to give these books the chance they deserve. You might be surprised at how much these timeless tales have inspired some of your favourite shows or movies!
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein sits at the top of the list because much like the classic literary genre, Frankenstein himself quite misunderstood. Modern myth portrays Frankenstein as nothing more than a dumb ogre, but reality couldn’t be further from the truth. The literary perspective itself is almost ironic; while Victor Frankenstein does his best to portray the “monster” as antagonistic, Frankenstein’s eloquence allows readers to empathise with him. Philosophical as much as it is literary, Frankenstein explores the themes of responsibility, societal rejection, and even physical beauty and deformity.
The book Dracula has inspired generations of horror, and it’s is as popular today as it was in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Bram Stoker’s masterpiece has birthed horror writer progenitors, but none can fully capture the Gothic horror of the original Dracula. Some people might scoff at classic novels as boring, but trust us when we say that Dracula is as horrific and as exciting as it gets—perfect for a Halloween read!
Why is it wrong to kill a mockingbird? The answer to this literary question lies in the pages of Harper Lee’s 1960 masterpiece, To Kill A Mockingbird. In the novel, race relations are explored, alongside the ethical dilemmas that come with murder and good intention.
Feminism has come a long way since the time of Hester Prynne, The Scarlet Letter‘s main protagonist. Yet this novel, which has been identified as a “moral study“, is a wonderful look at the patriarchal system which has so often oppressed both men and women. There’s also the ever-present theme of love—what does it justify? what is it worth?—and religion, alongside a subtle yet existing psychological and societal repression that was often a trademark of the Puritan times.
Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World is a dystopian novel written between the First and Second World Wars. This was a time when technological optimism was at its peak, yet Huxley’s novel chose to criticise the characters’ reliance on technology (viewing it as a silver bullet for problems caused by war and disease). Though the novel has been particularly provocative—having been censored by libraries and schools around the world—the plot itself continues to resonate with readers to this day, and its philosophical implications still remain relevant.
Poverty is a universal theme, and most books that centre on it portray the plight in all its devastating seriousness. Yet, George Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London paints a humorous yet honest view of something plenty still experience today. Though this isn’t Orwell’s most famous work (having often been eclipsed by 1984), it provides an insightful look into the writer’s life before having written his magnum opus. In a way, it’s a wonderful preamble into Orwellian literature, though its merit doesn’t merely lie in its semi-autobiographical nature, but also in its entertaining and very sincere account of life in London and Paris.
Mark Twain has always been known as a humorous writer. Most often praised for The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Twain was also a prolific travel and political writer. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court is a colourful reimagining of time travel when a “modern day” man is transported into medieval times. Of course, this comes with the usual trove of funny characters that include witches, wizards, and a loyal sidekick. Yet, there’s also much deeper social commentary present in the book, much of it used to point out the absurdities of contemporary governance, which is relatable even to people from outside Connecticut.