Classics, are called classics for a reason. They’re timeless works of art that have stood the test of time, and manage to stay relevant no matter the zeitgeist and historical context. Apart from the fact that classics freeze time and distil it into an ever-static fossil which is extremely valuable to literary historians, classics also act as ancestors of sorts for us. They pass down collective wisdom through generations and teach us more about life than universities ever could. On that note, here’s a list of our favourite 6 classics that deserve a place on everyone’s bookshelf.
6 Classics Everyone Should Read Once In Their Lifetime:
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
This book is the mother of all classics. In over 800 pages, Tolstoy brings to life imperial Russia of the late 19th century. He does this through the beautiful Anna, innocent Kitty, rustic Levin and lively Vronsky. As Anna, at the height of her beauty, falls in love with a man outside her marriage to a boring, uninspiring man, a scandal erupts. Meanwhile, the simple and rural-ling Levin experiences the joys and tumults of first love. Anna Karenina is an ontological inquiry into life, love, loss and a pack of wisdom and beautiful language.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
On the face, this is a Romantic period masterpiece, telling the story of a strong willed woman who falls for a man who looks arrogant but is a sweetheart. But this book is so much more than a love story. It’s the story of womanhood, of family, of resilience and of possibility. With precise observations about life standing out like gems in the prose, and the lively cadence of an exquisite romance flowing through its veins, this book is a must read.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
This book follows an orphan, Jane Eyre who gets employment as a governess at Thornfield Hall, the home of the mysterious Rochester. Over the course of their lives, Rochester and Jane fall irrevocably in love with each other. But Rochester is hiding a deep, dark secret within the walls of his home, and it threatens to spill out, on the eve of their wedding. With beautiful, engaging prose and a steady plot, this book is one to be devoured.
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
This story of adventure, conviction and revenge follows an innocent man who gets arrested on the brink of his engagement. Through rotten years in prison, a friendship with a madman and years of hard work, he escapes the deadly prison. When he returns with a new identity, he is no longer the naïve and idealistic youth he used to be. He is a seeker and exacter of a deadly revenge, and possessor of a treasure.
1984 by George Orwell
In this dystopian allegory to the communist regime, Orwell constructs a fictional world where the Big Brother monitors everyone. Here, language influences the collective psyche. Plus, the obliteration of words like ‘love’ from the language serves to obliterate them from memory, thought and existence itself. Amidst this, we follow a singular man who dares to love, but in the end succumbs to the Big Brother – a symbolic defeat of mankind.
The Scarlet Pimpernel by Emmuska Orczy
One of the lesser known classics, this book unfolds in the backdrop of the French Revolution against the aristocrats. Orczy tells the story of a mysterious Englishman who is notorious for rescuing French aristocrats and bringing them to England and safety. Meanwhile, we follow a beautiful Frenchwoman, Marguerite married to a dandy (the Scarlet Pimpernel in disguise). There is also a French cop, Chauvelin who preys on Marguerite’s nationalistic sentiments to help her betray the Scarlet Pimpernel. She unwittingly does this, and what ensues is a saga of romance, both terror and love.