For many people all around the world, reading literature is an enjoyable and at the same time self-cultivating experience. Reading provides a form of escape from reality while also reaching deep into a person's inner self, making them experience a wide variety of emotions and thoughts. Like most things, literature has also changed throughout the years, many books remain known as classics that a person has to read at least once in their lifetime, and new books are published daily that gain popularity very quickly, thanks to them being written in the modern age of technology. While the change in literature is noticeable, have the people also changed and adapted with the times? Or do they still prefer to read classics that they consider timeless?
Photo taken by Salome Kobiashvili
In an anonymous survey that was sent to the students of GZAAT on January 24th, 35% said that they preferred modern literature, while a very close 37% preferred Classical literature, with the rest of the 28% preferring to stay in the happy middle. The survey also asked the students to provide reasoning for their taste, a recurring theme that the people on the modern literature side said is summed up by this response: “Classical books are more complicated and difficult to understand while modern books have more understandable, relatable topics and humor.” Another argument that was brought up was that : “It is better to know what happens now and in the modern world.”
On the other hand, what are people on the opposite side of the spectrum saying? Here's a response that touches on something a lot of people said, how Classical literature is able to withstand time: “I read more Classical books in general because books are kind of like wine - they have to age - if they age well they are valid, if not well then they aren't substantial. Time shouldn't be a problem for a good book because the conflicts in the book should always exist no matter the time.” Others chose to point out the flaws they see in modern literature, as provided by this answer: “Modern literature does not make sense half of the time. Not everyone can write; some people are not made for writing literature. The topics chosen are not really that interesting to read about. They try to make it into ‘psychological writing’ but without having any experience in the field, it sounds lame and dumb. Thus, writing books that do not make any sense.”
While the majority of students chose to give a straightforward answer on which form of literature is the best, others saw the bright side to both modern and Classical literature. This student points out how modern literature can build off of the “traditions'' that were set by the books before them: “I like classic fantasy books because they are great stories such a Tolkien's work and they are the source of everything that comes after, however modern fantasy takes those ideas and builds upon them and still makes something recognizable and fun to read such as George R.R Martin.”. Another common theme in the middle was that some of these students don't care whether a book is considered a classic or not, as long as the book is interesting: “ It doesn't really matter to me as long as the book itself is good.”
Some other things that the survey demonstrated is that romance and fantasy books are the two most popular genres among the students with some frequently mentioned favorite authors being Jane Austen, Franz Kafka and Oscar Wilde, as well as two contrasting answers: “anyone except Colleen Hoover” and “definitely Colleen Hoover.”
So as it seems, Classical literature's presence is still strong in the lives of teenagers today, while modern literature also gets its time to thrive. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter if a book is considered a classic, or a cheesy sell-out, as long as it provides its readers with whatever they are looking for.
Edited by Anna-Maria Kand