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article imageOp-Ed: Decline in reading classic literature: Too hard too old

By Jesse Rutigliano     Nov 24, 2011 in Entertainment
The decline in students reading classic literature is becoming a problem in the UK, with literacy levels falling behind other European countries.
The decline in students reading classic literature is becoming a problem in the UK, with literacy levels falling behind other European countries.
Books like Wuthering Heights and How to Kill a Mocking Bird being pushed aside for less difficult reads such as The Harry Potter series and The Twilight series. Firstly, what constitutes classic literature? When the words are spoken, the majority will conjure up thoughts of Dickens, Joyce, Homer, Tolstoy, Eliot, Conrad, and the list continues.
The Oxford dictionary describes literature as:
1) written works, especially those considered of superior or lasting artistic merit: a great work of literature

2) books and writings published on a particular subject: the literature on environmental epidemiology

3) leaflets and other printed matter used to advertise products or give advice: advertising and promotional literature
The first definition would certainly be the one that past generational views of classics. The complexity that these ‘great works of literature’ (classics) are based on is immense. If you understand such books as James Joyce’s Ulysses, Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita or Goethe’s Faust upon first reading, then you’d be well advised to take another look. The multitude of levels that can be deciphered is overwhelming at times. Take Ulysses for example. James Joyce writes with the stream of consciousness technique, there by, the book has erratic changes in pace and thought. One moment your following the adventure of characters such as Stephen Dedalus and Leopold Bloom, and the next you’re deep inside their conscious thought, being bombarded with their opinions and views in a sequence that can only be described as poetic fluidity.
Not all classic literature is complex, and you should by no means be put of by the possibility of profound allegories, difficult enigmas, or elusive dialogue. An example of simplistic classic literature is the writing of Ernest Hemingway. His simple words and lack of abbreviations makes for an incredibly easy read. He wrote how he spoke, very slow, clear and unambiguous.
Classic literature is prodigiously important for a students development, there is a reason these works are labeled ‘classics’, that’s because they’re timeless, effortless, full of rich vivid words put together in exactly the right order so to create majestic images in the readers mind. Those who take the time to read some classic literature will benefit in many ways. Firstly, it will undoubtedly expand your vocabulary, bring forth new and exciting was of thinking, give you a greater understanding of history and improve your writing skills.
The UK school system would do well to make classics compulsory, the result would be a smarter generation with a great understanding of historical trends.
Some recommendations on classic literature:
Charles Dickens – The Tale of Two Cities
Homer – The Odyssey & The Iliad
James Joyce – Ulysses
Shakespeare – Hamlet
Aldous Huxley – Brave New World
Albert Camus – The Outsider (also know as The Stranger)
George Elliot – Middlemarch
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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