On Reading the Classics

Sometimes, there is a wall between the reader and a classic novel, and it results on the abandonment of it. On occasion, I have felt disconnected with the story. I have found that it is not the story per se, but a combination of elements: the time when it was written, the culture, and the (old) language that was used during the time. Many times, I have come across a word that I don’t recognize, and I have paused reading to look it up. In a way, it interrupts the flow of the story when reading and becomes a distraction. One can get the gist of it and continue reading, but for some reason something feels missing.

In order to do justice to that classic novel one has to become an archeologist of words. It must be treated as an adventure, a special read, unearthing a world that one does not know well or at all. Viewing it from the point of view of the writer’s times, the period in which it was written, the social/political conditions of the time, the writer’s life, and other considerations of that period, is something that helps the reader appreciate the story more, and understand it as well, finding common ground with it, and giving it a chance to reveal itself, and reconnect with it.

I find that doing light research about the author and the times prior to reading, helps and enhances the reading experience. Before tossing that classic novel aside, try this; maybe it will help in viewing it with different eyes.

Charmed Again and Again

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway – published by Scribners in 1952

That is one classic that I can read more than once with much enjoyment. Although written long time ago, it still reads fresh. I love Hemingway’s word rhythm and the way he paints a picture in my mind. He transports you through time and place, and plays with your senses.

I was able to find an old copy sometime ago, and it is one of my forever books. It is missing the dust jacket, but I love it just the same. It might appear as a first edition, but it isn’t. It is missing the Scribners seal and the letter A on the copyright page. It is valuable to me. I know I will keep reading it from time to time, and probably on an August or September afternoon; it seems a perfect read then.

If you have not read this classic, I invite you to read it. Maybe you can try it for this summer. You will not be disappointed.

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