Perhaps the most dominant feature of ‘classic’ works is the presence of a particularly memorable character. Multi-layered, evolving characters enhance the progression of the story, but not in a perfunctory manner, and not simply as a device to move the story forward. Additionally, if a primary character is similarly constructed to the average reader, it legitimizes the plausibility of the work. By offering a portrayal of a character that is grounded in reality connects the reader – who may be able to relate to the character’s plight or triumph – and lends real meaning to the story. For instance, in Melville’s “Bartelby, the Scrivener,” the titular character is thoroughly downcast and displays no fun characteristics, but a great number of people can sympathize with the mis...
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...sic American storytelling, and their prodigious skill should not be overlooked. I would have enjoyed more exposure to African-American literature within the curriculum, as I find it a good deal of it saturated with authenticity and a very approachable (but sophisticated) prose. Although I can admit the inclusion of several prolific and respected female writers was rewarding and enhanced the scope of the course.
Ultimately, enforcing a strict traditional literary canon is logistically implausible, but holding reverence for outstanding literary works should be continued. In some ways, it is the natural progression of a well-rounded education: what sort of high school student should be exempt from reading “The Catcher in the Rye?” If we expanded this discussion to foreign writers, it becomes immeasurably and unflinchingly imperative to maintain a traditional canon.
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