Classics are books that have stood the test of time. These can be from any genre, and share one thing in common: an enduring quality and appeal to a large number of readers.
A classic is a book accepted as being exemplary or noteworthy, for example through an imprimatur such as being listed in a list of great books, or through a reader’s personal opinion. Although the term is often associated with the Western canon, it can be applied to works of literature from all traditions, such as the Chinese classics or the Indian Vedas.
What makes a book “classic” is a concern that has occurred to various authors ranging from Italo Calvino to Mark Twain and the related questions of “Why Read the Classics?” and “What Is a Classic?” have been essayed by authors from different genres and eras (including Calvino, T. S. Eliot, Charles Augustin Sainte-Beuve). The ability of a classic book to be reinterpreted, to seemingly be renewed in the interests of generations of readers succeeding its creation, is a theme that is seen in the writings of literary critics including Michael Dirda, Ezra Pound, and Sainte-Beuve.
The terms “classic book” and “Western canon” are closely related concepts, but they are not necessarily synonymous. A “canon” refers to a list of books considered to be “essential” and is presented in a variety of ways. It can be published as a collection (such as Great Books of the Western World, Modern Library, or Penguin Classics), presented as a list with an academic’s imprimatur (such as Harold Bloom’s) or be the official reading list of an institution of higher learning (such as “The Reading List” at St. John’s College or Rutgers University.
Many classics are in the public domain and therefore open to being republished. Spectrum has a few favorites that we plan to produce.
Our current and upcoming classics publications include: