Friday, February 19, 2010

Modern Classics..!

Winds of Change...

Blowing around me...
Makes me feel archaic
Renders me outdated

These were the few lines iterating my mind at a city book store one evening.....“This was the first novel I’ve read”, quipped a young lady, seemed like a decade old girl, standing next to me. I just turned around and saw ‘5 point someone’ in her credulous hands. It zapped me for a moment...!!

I remember when I started was in the company of the Hardy siblings...Huckleberry Finn...Sherlock Holmes...! I was-and-still-am absolutely floored by these classics. I could even read it today with the same glint in my eyes. Charles Dickens, Robert Louis Stevenson’s and Mark Twain’s of the world were the one I grew up with. My first source of books was my school library which had a collection of all cases of Hardy Boys...Three Investigators and the World Famous series. I am highly indebted to my grand-dad who inculcated this habit in me. He used to get such books from his friends and would narrate them until I dozed off.

The very essence of these classics were that it clearly sends across a message of morality...goodness...evilness and many more learning’s by demarcating them with each other. These books are the best tutors one can have especially at such a tender age. I remember being sympathetic to Oliver Twist when he was refused another loaf of bread....being a part of Lemuel Gulliver in his efforts to befriend the Lilliputians as also in the company of Phileas Fogg in his trip around the world in a quite cramped up schedule of eighty days (hehehe). They are still fresh in my memories.

I believe these books are termed classics for a reason...! But they seem to be losing its sheen.

Coming back to the 10 year old girl with a Chetan Bhagat book in her hand....can you imagine such young and naive minds inculcating book reading with a novel where students screw up their first class quiz...casually use profane language and one of the protagonist has sex with the professors daughter...I know all of this is mentioned in the lighter sense (I personally loved the book...and am a great Bhagat fan :-))... but what is more important is what young readers take out from this...! There a host of such books available in the market off late ready to gobble up young readers. Are Chetan Bhagat’s books or many such IIM/IIT-studs-turned-storytellers’ books modern day classics? (I must admit here I have no personal grudge against the writer). We read such books as a light hearted humour....will a first time reader be able to make the same sense of such books? a million dollar question...!

Are these the new classics? Or am I acting like an orthodox who wants readers the same books as I did? Has the new generation left me gasping for breath in an attempt to catch up..? Is my vintage thinking a victim of the Dinosaur which refuses to adapt???

Sure had a lot of unanswered questions as I made my way out of that store...and yes I really mean the four lines mentioned at the start...!


  1. :) :) (nostalgia set in ) those have all been classics for a reason.. 5 point can never come close.. sympathies for the little girl who wasn't given an "alice in wonderland".. about feeling archaic, even when our grandchildren become grandparents I dont think black beauty or huckleberry finn will ever become archaic

  2. Hectic life keeps away from blogging but still like to read your good blogs ..keep it up adi :P

  3. The moment I read about a 'decade-old girl reading Five Point Someone...', I was like 'WTF! She's not the right age to read that! What are her @#$! parents doing?' Thankfully, you have broached that angle too further down in your blog...albeit in a more refined manner.

    To be really frank, I think you answered your own question - "Am I acting like an orthodox who wants readers the same books as I did". I will give you another example - You and I both know that there is some amazing music being composed nowadays. Yet I have an 80-yr old friend who just fails to draw the same pleasure from the current day music as he is able to draw from the one composed during the 50s-70s...

  4. Why did you not take the books written by J.K.Rowling - the dud called as Harry Potter - I could muster up courage to read one page of it. Yipeeeeeeeeeeee I never went past para one. My question is similar to yours "will a first time reader be able to make the same sense of such books?" which are full of ridiculous lines and statements which mean nothing.
    Atleast Chetan gives a glimpse of realtiy (lil bit augmented at times but passable) unlike Potter which is too much to digest.
    As your grandfather used to read books to you, I am sure you will read Tom Sawyer to your grandchildren until they grow up to understand Bhagat.

  5. Not just the books, even the tv series which kids are watching these days are something not really meant for them..

    I wonder whats going on with the parents community ?? Too Busy with their work or party circle that they are neglecting their responsibility :( sigh !!

    I am so glad that I grew up in the company of great books :-) cheers :-)