Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Literary Classics: Alive and Thriving in my Computer

It has been said that great readers make great writers; I would somewhat agree with this statement however, not all book lovers aspire to write. Unfortunately, in a world of digital electronics and advancing technology, the English language has been sacrificed. Transmission of the written word via email, texting and twitter has pretty much butchered the language into 4 letter words sans vowels, punctuation, and proper sentence structure.

Last year, I decided to take it upon myself to revisit the classics and read the great literary works of Leo Tolstoy, Charles Dickens, and Mark Twain.  Somewhere along the way, I missed reading them in high school; perhaps I found the smoking area more interesting!

So throughout 2010, I tackled Leo Tolstoy's, Anna Karenina - all 850 pages of it. Next I read, Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte and will soon immerse myself in D. H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover. Currently I am making my way through the free online version of Great Expectation by Charles Dickens. Many of the classics are available online for free because their copyright has expired. A copyright expires after 100 years and the content becomes public domain thus Google and a few other sites offer the classics for all to read. I am not exactly sure how it got there, but my online version of Great Expectation is stored nicely within the confines of my gmail.com email account. When I visit my 'books', it comes up automatically to the last page that I read. How cool is that?!

Although I have somewhat veered off topic, the point I am trying to make is that the classics are beautifully written; the sentences are long, flowing, dramatic and descriptive. However, in this modern environmentally conscious and digital era, it is a distinct possibility that some of the classics would have been passed over by the traditional publishers for being too wordy, long and drawn out and too costly to produce. Likewise, if the book was written for exclusively for the web, the writing is too 'loose' and rambling and would not hold the reader's attention for long because writing for the web differs greatly than writing for print. Studies have proven that Internet surfers only read the first few paragraphs of a body of text that is posted online and do not read each word but rather scan down the screen picking up words and ideas.  Web writing is written in a very tight and concise manner to pack as much into a paragraph as possible to accommodate the Internet surfer's online reading behavior.

When my sister found out that I was ploughing through the classics, her first question was 'why'?  As I explained to her, for whatever reason, I missed reading the majority of them the first time around in high school and to be great writer, one must be a great reader of the literary giants. I wanted to absorb myself in the prose of previous eras and literary works that differ so greatly from the great authors of present day.

If you are interested in reading the classics, visit these sites:

Google Books

Project Gutenberg

*Note: Some sites offer the books in a variety of formats suitable for various portable readers.

Until next time...happy reading...

1 comment:

  1. Well I read every word of this blog article. Great insight on past and present.
    I dont have the time to read them currently but I will see if my daughter is interested in some of these works. thanks for links.