Darcy, death and the literary discussion

Death Comes to Pemberley sparked a literary discussion chez Bookwitch, and doesn’t that make us sound ‘intellectual?’ The Grandmother had read the book by P D James, and didn’t think much of it. She was keen to see what they’d done to it on television, though, and I am under the impression we all liked it.

That’s the thing with quality. A good book can be ruined on the screen and vice versa. You just never know. Daughter objected at first that we weren’t getting the 1995 cast from Pride and Prejudice, but warmed fairly quickly to this new Darcy. I didn’t know what to think of dear Wickham, because I need to dislike him, and I happen to like Matthew Goode…

But anyway, it made us talk books for a while (because we never ever mention the wretched things at any other time!)

Who counts as an author of classics? Jane Austen obviously does. Her books are really old. Victorians count. They too are old. But after that my ‘misguided’ companions wanted to put the classic label on all sorts of books by all sorts of recent writers!

I realise that classic-ness is a moving feast. What wasn’t a classic before, will become one at some point. My own gut measure is somewhere around the 100 years mark. If someone alive today was also alive when a novel was written, it becomes questionable. I know that the 1950s was a long time ago, but I happen to have personal experience of part of that decade and the people who wrote books then are not at all old, thank you very much!

So I’m not ready to consider Astrid Lindgren a writer of classic books, whereas I feel that Selma Lagerlöf might have been too recent fifty years ago, but is now definitely to be considered a writer of classics.

On the other hand, I see the flaws in this. Someone younger than me will share that same 100-year-old, but will also see Astrid Lindgren as dreadfully ancient. Is there a right way?

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7 responses to “Darcy, death and the literary discussion

  1. I don’t know, but I’m with Grandmother when it comes to Death Comes to Pemberly. doesn’t mean I won’t watch it.

  2. I understand that a classic is any book which is of outstanding excellence, any book which has qualities which stand above current trends.

  3. For me a classic is a book that is enjoyed by and has relevance for successive generations, so it is possible to have contemporary classics – outstanding excellence goes without saying! As for Death comes to Pemberley – book a bit disappointing, but am impressed by and enjoying TV adaptation.

  4. I was disappointed in the book, but am glad to hear the adaptation is enjoyable. Interestingly, I just wrote a post about adaptions too (https://medinger.wordpress.com/2013/12/27/movies-involving-childrens-stories-and-their-creators/). Wasn’t thinking classics, but both movies I’m writing about refer to them.

  5. I thought the book was absolutely dire – so much so that it put me off watching the series, but I may fire up ‘on demand’ and give it a go..

  6. I think I thought the idea of the book sounded interesting when I first heard of it, but something, can’t remember what, put me off.

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