There seems to be some common consensus that it isn’t just the old and familiar books that can be heralded as classics. For example, Time Magazine rated the top 100 novels of our time and included the excellent graphic novel Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. I wholeheartedly agree that this book needs to be added to the canon. It’s an unconventional choice since it is essentially a comic book but it just goes to show that great stories can be told in a variety of mediums.
I don’t have a problem with the canon as it stands but I do believe that newer work needs to be added to it. Louis Sachal’s Holes, Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game, and Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist, among others, could easily and justifiably be added to the list.
According to Arthur N. Applebee, the top 7 full-length works studied in school are,
Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare
Macbeth by Shakespeare
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Twain
To Kill a Mockingbird by Lee
Julius Caesar by Shakespeare
The Pearl by Steinbeck
The Scarlett Letter by Hawthorne
I studied four of the above works in high school and one in university. That is 5 out of 7 for me. How about you?
I believe that these works deserve to be in the canon and that students should be exposed to them. I believe that the work of Shakespeare is invaluable and that its inclusion in the canon cannot be disputed on any rational level.
I also believe that most readers can appreciate what makes a literary work great. We all understand the basic tenants of story and desire to have good stories told to us. The study of literature gives us the language and objective evaluation tools to merit what work should be heralded as classic.
I believe that modern, popular work is starting to get more recognition from literary circles. The Time magazine article, for example also includes Judy Blume’s Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret. I know this list is debatable but I also believe that many of the people in the literary circle will agree on most of the selections included. It’s nice to see modern, popular work being considered in the same category of the old, tried and true works that most people associate with the canon.