The never ending battle between Classics and Contemporary

booksLove it or hate it, Shakespeare‘s “Romeo and Juliet” has served as a rite of passage for the younger generations for generations now.

In addition to the Bard, teachers all around the world have long relied on Kafka, Socrates and Steinbeck among a lot of other authors whose works earned the distinction of being a classic.

Contemporary literature has a diversity that can be easily grasped by most of us as an ‘innovation in thought flow’, yes. Books of the modern day writers have a more catchy approach to storytelling as well. But weather the contemporary books have more to offer for a reader like you and me, still remains up for debate.

We live in a VERY advanced world today where we have thousands of books available for reading at the touch of a button.

The flick of a switch and the library lights up. There are a hundred shelves on each side and a hundred books on each shelf.

What would a reader do?

Where should he invest his time? Obviously you can’t have it all in the little time you have for reading in your busy schedule!


The question has been analyzed by countless experts around the globe and has affects educational systems and library setups every year. While on one hand, education experts believe that classic literature and books are the pillars of the modern literature, some experts favor the contemporary books more because that’s what the teenagers in schools and the college going students ‘Relate to better’.

It’s mostly about the ‘Target audience’ after all.

It’s the everyday life’s story versus a classic setup in Victorian London where the wind blows cold and the Inns are open.

Needless to say, with all these websites and new ways of marketing and companies and with a writer in every single college in the country, there is a lot more competition for people’s attention than there was in the ’70s.


Whereas you can teach The Hamlet because it is a classic, and you can talk about the plot, the settings and the stylistic details, it is not something that contemporary teenagers can relate to in a straightforward way. So it loses its value.

But then, to provide a counter argument to this, ‘Shakespeare is Shakespeare’. (Not to mention the obvious fact that its adapted almost every year in a Broadway show or a movie or a book, the most recent adaptation been in the Bollywood movie ‘Haider’).

Which brings us to the topics of heat:

‘Old is gold’

‘Behind every contemporary work of art, there is a classical inspiration embedded at its heart’

This being one of the baselines for classic books being constantly recommended by experts, on occasions even over the contemporary work, the appeal of contemporary is at its peak, and rising.

Now let’s have a look at some contemporary books like ‘The fault in our stars’ by John Green or ‘Gone Girl’ by Gillian Flynn (BOTH of which are converted into Hollywood movies, by the way). The popularity is, not just because of the depth of work, but also because that’s what we can relate to the best.

No doubts that we would find a story on Time travel or an Alien invasion far more catching and interesting than the tale of a young prince fighting for power in the Roman Empire.

But our society, its structure, the ways of life have evolved and changed so much from what they used to be a hundred years ago, that every tale of ‘two brothers living in a house by the lake in east London’ triggers the settings of a fantasy world itself.


On one hand we get chills reading about an alien who came to earth and blended in, and on the other hand we can find ourselves with a glass of diet coke in our hands, calling it ‘ale’ after finishing a classic. There is no limit.

Time has blended both of these genres almost perfectly, giving us literally good things to read for a lifetime.

And when that is taken into consideration, comparing both of them is like comparing a six year old kid to a teenager.

The teenager has a better understanding of the world.

The kid has the purest of hearts.

But the teenager was once a kid and if the kid was able to see what a fine young man he is evolving into, he will stop, stare and smile.

About For a book lover, writer, interestingness hunter and a curious mind at large. We are blurring the lines between reality and fiction.

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