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  1. #1

    Question Why do teens in general dislike classic literature?

    I don't get it. I'm 16 and I absolutely love classic literature. Why do teens tend to put classic lit below more modern lit? Or am I just completely wrong?

    Also, please don't just say "It's boring!" I'd prefer more in depth answers. I thought The Scarlet Letter was the most boring books ever, yet I still think it's excellent.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2008
    One reason my be that the classics are the ones most often assigned as school assignments, which tends to make them more of a chore or an imposition than anything else. I know that I took a course in Shakespeare in high school and hated it. Since I've been out of school I've gone back and read many of Shakespeare's plays and have really enjoyed them.

    A dreamer is one who can only find
    his way by moonlight, and his

    punishment is that he sees the dawn
    before the rest of the world.
    ~ Oscar Wilde

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Florida/Virginia, USA
    One of the heartening things about this forum is the number of teens here! And not just from the U.S. - so, you may have trouble finding teens of a like mind where you are, but there are many here (I'm not one of them - although I did love many classics as a teen, Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, Mark Twain, Dickens, Tolstoy, etc etc etc)!

    Why not introduce yourself in our Introductions thread?

    ...For miracles, gravitating
    To earth, know just where people will be waiting,
    And eagerly will find the right address
    And tenant, even in a wilderness.

    -Joseph Brodsky

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2006
    british Columbia , Canada.
    I think that it has a lot to do with one's family and whether the parents and other adults or older siblings were exposed to the classics, like them and introduce their children tto them.
    I know there are execeptions to that, but with television seemingly searching for the lowest common denominator and flooding the world with it, everything fast food in mentallity, it might be hard for a teen to settle down and dig into something he or she cannot share with friends, with important peers.
    And just the common language of the 'masses' seems to have disintigrated to such a valley low that it seems an effort for all ages to use any language formations that are lovely to hear or of a higher level is quite the chore.
    When , in the space of a ten minute conversation between many many many teens and adults, and a lot of very small children these days, you hear the f word or worse every second word , it is nothing to wonder at that the rythmn and beauty of speech found in say Jane Austen or even the colorful speach of Mark Twain would be quite boring to many.
    Also, the number of teens that cannot even read above primary grade level with understanding in North America is frightening and appalling. For if someone can not read with understanding, the country will ultimately suffer, for enemies, or opportunists who did take the time to learn well can take over our countries and we would not even know until the fireworks were over.
    So, I think it is a societal thing that begins at home. If the family, after a hard day at school and work prefers to sit in their sweats watching reality teli or wrestling while loading their bodies with unhealthful fare, it is an uphill climb to convince even one in said family to sit down to a great book and get swept away.
    Except for the Harry Potter thing because interest in occult things, things that promise power and instant gratifications by use of that power has always been hot and I don't see any immediate end to it soon.
    Contrast that with reading just one chapter of Austen's Mansfield Park in which Mrs. Norris takes three pages to get her idea across and you pretty well know which book will win out with teens.(Unless he or she is a hopeless romantic and loves Victorian things.
    I have been formed a comely person;although I am but little, I am highly gifted;Into a dark leathern bag I was thrown, And on a boundless sea I was sent adrift. From seas and from mountians God brings wealth to the fortunate man."Taliesin

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Starachowice (Poland)
    In my oppinion, the classic literature is too old-fashioned for young people. They don't understand the language of narrator/characters and the background of the stories. I know many young people who think that the classic literature is "unmodern" and "strange" for them. Two days ago my friend said that she hates historical novels...

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2009


    I have also once made the false notion that classic literature is boring. It has not been long ago when I started to like reading such kind of novels. Before, I would tend to choose modern/contemporary works than classics. I guess many teens have not gotten into reading classic because they think it is too much for them. I mean sometimes, words are very much esoteric and the events are very much out of their grasps. Some would also think that classic novels are stuck in the past, I mean, why choose something that is very much obscure when there are other modern choices of books that they can easily relate.
    Not all that Glitters is gold; not all those who wander are lost

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Miami suburbs
    I am 14, I love classical literature more than myself, I am also, a "Nerd".
    My group of intellectual friends are the ones I talk abut that sort of thing with.

    One of them said to me a while ago, "It's just because everyone else is stupid", but he is probably the biggest elitist I have ever known so he should probably not be listened to in this matter.
    In my opinion, its just a matter of taste, and "There is no accounting for taste".

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2006
    british Columbia , Canada.
    Taste is of course prime in the choosing of what one will read, but also exposure, don't you think? If a child never sees anyone in their family read the classics for example or even watch period movies, then that whole thing is like another language that they have no idea of , and don't feel comfortable with. It does take a certain amount of 'brain work' to get into the language of another time, and for those raised in the fast food era, an era where one does not have to wait for just about anything, slogging through Shakespeare or Tolstoy or whomever can be tiring and rather daunting.
    I think in this world of 'things' we adults have rather let the younger ones down in the area of good reading. That is why I spend so much time with Hasia, she loves Tolstoy's Anna Karenina for example, and we just went through Gulliver's travels and she was enchanted. So she can switch from Barbie and Walt Disney to a classic such as Tale of Two Cities and not bat an eyelash. But that did not come naturally to her.
    I have been formed a comely person;although I am but little, I am highly gifted;Into a dark leathern bag I was thrown, And on a boundless sea I was sent adrift. From seas and from mountians God brings wealth to the fortunate man."Taliesin

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    I was always one who loved the classics. I tried to read Dickins' A Tale of Two Cities when I was in primary school. I didn't understand it, but at the same time I was fascinated by the strange world and the adventure. I think that Dickens allowed me to enter the world of classics proper - before that I only read adaptations of legends like Robin Hood and King Arthur.

    Unfortuately classics seem to have lost this reputation of adventure and intrigue. I've heard teenagers say classics are boring when they haven't read one outside of school. I wonder if there is some disservice being done to these great books in society, in that they are not being recognised as human anymore - have we raised them up to such a high level that they are intimidating and people feel they can't relate to them? At the same time, I think Rachel is right when she says that the world has descended to a fast food mentality. Anything that takes effort seems to be disregarded.

    I think more needs to be done to encourage teenagers to recognise the great variety in classics. It isn't all Shakespeare and Austen - there's Verne, Dumas, Stevenson, so many different authors with exciting stories to share. A lot of classics have the same themes and interests as good modern literature! It's about finding the right genre for the reader.

    I am finding it very enouraging to see many more children coming in to the library where I work and borrowing more classics like Little House on the Prairie and Little Women. It's a step towards a healthy appetite for books in later years!

    A hand rules pity as a hand rules heaven;
    Hands have no tears to flow.
    Dylan Thomas

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Bristol, England
    A lot of people only start reading at all in their teenage years and so, they need to get used to it first with books that are easily accessible and don't carry any oppressive associations with schools and 'learning'. Once they've adapted to that and have moved on from the school mentality, they can start appreciating the subtleties of reading and eventially see why exactly the classics are so classic. I think it's mainly to do with the context of the teenager's life as well as their connection with and knowledge of the context of the novel.

    I don't see not liking classic literature as a mark of any intellectial defficiency, however - some of the most intelligent and engaging people I know don't read at all - nor do I see liking it as a mark of intellectual prowess. I don't hold any snobbishness towards television or the more mainstream literature of today either. We are living in the present, not the past, so which is more relevant and fascinating? And then there's the 'classic literature' of the future to consider.

    I also agree with Cthulhu that it's a matter of taste: exposure ultimately makes little difference. My mother's favourite musician is Prince and I was exposed to quite a lot of his music growing up. I still hate it. Contrariwise, I'm the only person in my family who reads (though my younger sister is slowly coming around to my way of seeing things) and I'm quite into Orwell, Tolstoy, Robert Louis Stevenson, HP Lovecraft and Shakespeare. Not all classic literature... but I don't have to pretend to like The Importance of Being Earnest - give me Prince, swine flu, anything but that - in order to see its academic value.

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