A new month means a new meme question for The Classics Club. I was slack on these in 2014 but I would really like to get back into doing them regularly in 2015. This month’s question is:
What about modern classics? Pick a book published since 2000 and say why you think it will be considered as a “classic” in the future. Contributed by Teresa.
When I first saw this month’s question I thought interesting but hard however when I sat down to write this post one book came to mind straight away; The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon. A British novel published in 2003 with an unusual and eye-catching title (which is actually a quote of Sherlock Holmes from one of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s short stories).
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time tells the tale of Christopher a young man with a behavioural disorder. Who is amazing at mathematics, obsessive about order and routine, and struggles to form and maintain relationships. Christopher is shaken from is obsessive routine with the murder of his neighbour’s dog as he goes out into the world to discover the truth. This is beautiful book about a fascinating character; that alone could be a reason for this to become a classic. It also I feel, like many classics do, portrays the society and culture of its time and discusses the universal issues of difference and exclusion.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time has been a best-selling novel read by adults and younger readers a like. It has been adapted into a highly successful play and there are plans to make it into a film too. Also in a BBC survey for World Book Night it was voted one of “the top five happy endings” with the industrious company of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë and Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. All of which I’ve read and are now classics.
What novel published since 2000 do you think will become a classic?
I decided in January to try to always have a classic novel or short story collection on the go, alongside one fiction and non-fiction. Starting as I mean to go on after finishing Shirley by Charlotte Brontë I picked up Tender is the Night by F Scott Fitzgerald.
Tender is the Night takes us to the beautiful south of France in the summer of 1925. Wealthy, American couple Dick and Nicole Diver, and their social clique are enjoying the sun, sea and beach from their villa on the French Riviera. The equilibrium is to be altered with the arrival of the young movie star Rosemary Hoyt and her mother. This new friendship will go on to reveal the cracks in the Divers’ friendships and even their own marriage. I love the 1920’s world of Fitzgerald’s novels; the clothes, parties and glamour while in this novel the beautiful French setting was an extra bonus.
While the setting is intoxicating I often find the society, outlook and opinions of the age unattractive and in turn so are the characters in Fitzgerald’s novels. In Tender is the Night Rosemary and many of the Divers’ other friends and family are over privileged, aloof, shallow and live with no thought of consequence. When we first meet the Divers they too come across like this however when you come to the middle of the novel we are taken back in time to when they first met. Nicole was in a mental illness institute and Dick a young doctor. Knowing the hardships they have been through and the love and need they once had for each other did make me soften to them.
Tender is the Night is the third novel I have read by F Scott Fitzgerald, the previous being The Great Gatsby and The Beautiful and the Damned. I find Fitzgerald’s writing to be detailed, eloquent, but quite meandering. Fitzgerald is certainly not a direct writer. Rather than this annoying me though I find this style adds to the precocious, aloof, and flamboyant mood of the age and setting. Again it particularly works in this novel because of the mind sets of the Divers. Dick is a man who is coming to think too much while Nicole has her mental illness to come to terms with. Again not sure this style would work for me in anything but a Fitzgerald novel.
Tender is the Night is a glitzy and gritty look into the lives of 1920’s American socialites in Europe. I recommend to those interested in the 1920’s and classic American literature. This is my 28th read off my Classics Club list. Okay read.
Have you read this? Or another of Fitzgerald’s novels?