Modern works will be ‘classics’ of the future
I am puzzled by the letter in the March 18 News that questions the use of certain books in high school because they contain “vulgar terms” and “profanities.” The writer urges the use of “classics of years ago” instead of modern works so that “common decency” can be preserved for the students.
While I realize certain modern works tackle subjects that some readers would consider to be objectionable, I’m not sure which “classics” she is using as a comparison. Here are a few I can think of: Geoffrey Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales,” wherein the village friar romps with young maidens in his confessional, then is forced to find husbands for them to hide the results of his “pleasant absolutions”; or William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” a tale of two 14-year-olds who sleep together, disobey their parents by eloping, then commit suicide; or Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter” about a young woman ostracized by her community when she wouldn’t display the proper amount of shame for bearing an illegitimate child.
These works are classics not because they avoid what some view as the vulgarities and profanities of life but because they express them and find love and redemption in spite of them. I would hazard a guess that some of the modern works the letter writer is so disturbed by will become the “classics” of the future because they adhere to the same literary ethic authors of the current crop of “classics” offer.