OPINION: Classical Lit is Trash

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Corey Hevel

William Golding’s Lord of The Flies put where it belongs

Classical literature. The genre of writing that all modern literature has grown from. These books range from Old Yeller to Lord of the Flies. From To Kill a Mockingbird to In Cold Blood. Classics have been a huge part of our history; they are a monument to our past. But sometimes the past should stay in the past. They were building blocks, nothing more. They do not deserve to be remembered. They are not classics. They are the written form of watching paint dry.
This form of literature, if it can even be called that, is flawed for many reasons. It is honestly a surprise to me that they are the only books taught in schools’ English curriculum. I get that they can be good at teaching metaphors and other figurative language, but these books are severely outdated. Some are downright offensive. These books are so old they were written in times where language was entirely different. What was said then often isn’t allowed now. About half of the classics we teach in school contain the N word, several times in a demeaning context. When it was written that was the norm, but it isn’t now. That alone should remove it from our school curriculum. A prime example of this is Huckleberry Finn, where the main character constantly refers to his friend with said word. I get that some people can look past that and understand the time period it was written, but that doesn’t make it okay, especially not in a learning environment.
Comparatively, these books also are completely uncreative. The majority of them are just main characters who live during a specific time period and do typical things for that time period and have typical experiences. The only classic I can think of that even has a semi-interesting concept is Lord of the Flies, where school children find themselves stranded on an island and have to survive. All of the others are far from unique, being plots that are so normal or average that it makes you wonder why the story is focusing on this character. This is exactly the case with To Kill a Mockingbird. It’s just a young child realizing racism is a thing in a Great Depression timeline. Meanwhile they just live the typical lifestyle of that time period, along with a small subplot about a guy having a disability and being locked up for it. All are events that would be happening all over the South in that time period, not just around the main character. I don’t see how a story like that could be interesting, when it’s not telling a unique story. It is just a day in the life of a regular person, nothing special to make it grab your attention.
Just in case even the concept of a classic was interesting, they’re all ruined anyway with the pacing. These books are so slow paced they become the cure for insomnia. They take so long to get to the point and when they do, it has no payoff. For example, in To Kill a Mockingbird, there’s practically an entire chapter about a wild dog in the street. It spends about 90% of the chapter describing the dog menacingly standing in the street and the main characters just talking about how dangerous it is. Then another character comes out to kill the dog. It takes multiple pages just to build suspense about the danger of this dog and how scary it is, then one paragraph or two later the guy just raises a gun and shoots it a single time, with the chapter ending shortly after. It took about seven or eight pages just to say there was a dog with rabies on the street, he was dangerous, so this guy walked up and casually shot it. That summarization does not leave out any important details. That chapter should have won an award for that fluff writing, except for the fact that basically every classic does it. They all take so long to describe everything and get to the point, and when it does, there’s nothing to show for it. Just an anticlimactic end to a lengthy, boring setup within an even more boring story.
There should be no reason we worship classics as much as we do. They’re slow, boring, unoriginal, outdated, and in some cases offensive. The amount of metaphors an author can cram in there doesn’t matter. Classical literature has shaped the modern literature we have today, but only because it showed us what not to do. So now that we know how to create actually decent stories, we can toss them into the trash and move on.

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