Classics are stupid

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Janine Wood at The Christian Science Monitor wonders why no one reads the classics anymore – especially Dickens.

“Classics are stupid,” said one 13-year-old girl, whose desperate mother had tried paying her to read Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women.” “I’d have to buy my son 17 North Face jackets before he’d look at a classic,” said another mother.

“Do you want chick lit, a page-turner, or a romance?” the saleswoman asked. Oh, how I wish she had asked, “Do you want Charles Dickens, Emily Brontë, or the latest translation of ‘The Iliad’?” I felt as though I were at Wal-Mart instead of the bookstore, and that prompted me to wonder what other adults were reading. I asked around at the bookstore’s cafe. Nobody had read Dickens since college and even then it was a chore. “I hated all that detail,” one woman complained.

This is embarrassing. I haven’t read any Dickens either. I haven’t even tried. Not even A Christmas Carol. I just look at those thick, English, things, my eyes get foggy, and eventually I find myself looking at something else in an entirely different room wondering how I got there. I think I might have a problem.

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