Classic literature, often referred to as the classics, includes well-known literary works with origins from the days of ancient Rome and Greece. Widely considered as the birthplace of modern society and advanced human ideology and thought, the literature from that era includes epics such as the Iliad and the Odyssey which focus on metaphorical and heroic journeys. Even though classic literature traditionally means such works, a less formal definition includes much later titles such as 1984 by George Orwell or Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin among others. In other words, the definition is widened to encompass works considered to have enduring and/or outstanding qualities. In today’s world, discussion of classic literature features widely studied books that have had a tremendous impact on the world’s literary discourse and canon. These works have served as benchmarks for specific eras or events in the history of the world.
Classics are studied in modern institutions because they contain precious references to events in world history which undoubtedly have had a profound effect in shaping current cultural,political and social systems. Reading literature from those times allows modern society gain a well-rounded insight on how events at the time affected ordinary folk. Studying classic literature is essential and useful since modern society can extract values, themes, motifs and morals that are still very relevant and current today. For instance, the racism theme that ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ explores is still very relevant today despite the increased inter-racial culture and society we live in and the clichéd notions of ethnic melting pots in most countries. It is increasingly apparent that modern society, to a certain extent, still values teaching classic literature just like ancient times. This classical literature is commonly meshed with contemporary literature to foster well-rounded comprehension of modern trends and their origins.
Reading classic literature is reading history-they can be considered as keys to past humankind experiences. In English novels by luminaries such as Shakespeare or Jane Austen, the history of the English language is recorded-as well as history of ideas and sentiments pertaining to the era the play or novel was written. For instance Shakespeare is famous for penning commonly-used phrases used today. Examples include ‘Break the Ice’ and ‘it is Greek to me’. Movies such as Dracula,Romeo and Juliet, Harry Porter or even The Lord of the Rings all explore themes founded on classic literature. Common classic literature themes include voyage and return,rebirth, conquest or tragedy. In world literature, we learn about the philosophies of past cultures. Classical literature features universal themes, imparting moral lessons and providing crucial insights into human nature. Even rereading classics can provide a person with a new apprehension of themes not experience during the initial reading. Without a doubt, the importance and relevance of classic literature in today’s world is immeasurable.