Reading the classics

Today sees the start of my new blog, which is designed to express views and opin­ions about writ­ing and pub­lish­ing.

Reading the clas­sics’ is one of those things that every writer knows he must do but can’t seem to find the time to do it. My own list of clas­sics is fero­ciously long and, like some amor­ous dog, seems reluct­ant to let go of my leg until the aim of the exer­cise is com­plete. What is the aim? I guess the writer wants to have Shakespeare, Proust, Updike, Bronte et al. at his fin­ger­tips – some­how the clas­sics will become mixed with the work that the writer pro­duces. Dead authors will speak out yet (sorry, John).

What’s a clas­sic? No idea. But to this glor­i­ous end, I’ve been read­ing a couple of clas­sics of late. Wuthering Heights is one such – and a crack­ing read it is too. By turns stodgy, ath­let­ic, poet­ic and plain irrit­at­ing, I can fully appre­ci­ate why this book is regarded as a clas­sic. (Nice, too, to see an esteemed book break­ing a num­ber of the ‘rules’ put for­ward by cre­at­ive writ­ing courses; made to be broken by Bronte.) Another choice, which many will find con­tro­ver­sial, per­haps, is Breakfast at Triffany’s by Truman Capote. This author was an old spar­ring part­ner of Norman Mailer, and his verbal jig­gery-pokery is fully evid­ent in this won­der­ful story. I haven’t seen the film, but may yet; for the time being, the writ­ing of Capote is Technicolor enough. A fine, fine writer. Classic? No idea.

Must dig out my Madame Bovary

Author: Ian Hocking

Writer and psychologist.

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