Classics such as the Chronicles of Narnia, Anne of Green Gables, Little Women, Lord of the Rings, and Pride and Prejudice have long been cherished by mankind. The question I ask today is why? Such tales of love, war, peace, deceit, and far away worlds should (and the key term here is “should”) have disintegrated into the mesh of novels and novellas from the past. Yet they have endured. Why is this so?
What follows is my own, and simply my own, opinion on why classical tales have continued to survive in our world of literature.
One of the most curious things that pops to my mind when I think of classical books is the style of English used in the writing. Foremost, one can see the long scenes describing inanimate objects and sensations, and then there are the large words that have lost their meaning these days in our own literature of the 21st century (Chronicles of Narnia is exempt from this section of discussion).
I remember during my journey through LOTR I stumbled quite heavily through the long, monotonous sections of Tolkien’s descriptions. In fact, I cannot get two chapters into the Silmarillion or any other Tolkien history-based book due to the continuously boring tone used. I have tried hard to appreciate this diversity and unique usage of my language, yet for some reason that emotion never wells up inside me. It simply is not there.
Descriptive scenes are important in fantasy novels, particularly to create an image in the reader’s mind that shows them what your world that you’ve created looks like. Yet if such descriptions are long then I become terribly bored and may even shut the book and never open it again (I almost did this with Uncle Tom’s Cabin, unfortunately I had to finish the book for school). On the other hand, the descriptive scenes in C.S. Lewis’s Perelandra have captured my heart and I would love to see more books written in that tone (although the theological debates of the tale are quite tedious).
I therefore must come to the conclusion that it is the way the author introduces the scene and how they tell of what is going on that captures the reader and holds them. Too many large words and precise grammatical sequences tire the reader and turn them off. On the other hand, too many simple words and imprecise grammatical sequences cause the reader to disrespect the writer and their knowledge of the English language.
That leads me to my next point; how the writer treats their language. English is so beautiful yet so very complicated. In fact, I do believe it is one, if not THE, most complicated languages to learn. As a writer myself, I find everyday when I write my sessions are becoming more and more like competitions. I race to tell the story yet, when I re-read my work, I find that I have used the simplest English terms available and those terms are perhaps not even the best to describe what I am trying to convey to the reader. My grammar, too, tends to wobble on the brink of good and not-so-good. Because of this, I fear that if I were to publish anything it would be lost in the rubble heaps of the publishing houses. My readers would not respect my writing talent, although they might enjoy the story it would not stick with them for the rest of their lives.
Tolkien, Lewis, and other such authors have gained the respect of the public because of their ability to wield language as a weapon as well as a thoughtful touch. They know how to manipulate the words so that they dance across the pages and filter into ones very soul. Overall, it is an enchanting effect.
Although there are plenty more reasons as to why classical books and their authors continue to be cherished, I will stop here; you should have plenty of food for thought :)