What is a classic?

The Great Books of the Western World (CC image by rhsmith4)
The Great Books of the Western World (CC image by rdsmith4)

As curators of written works, libraries often want to include classics in their collections. For many centuries, “the classics” referred specifically to Greek and Latin literature, either in their entirety or those by their greatest authors. Sometimes classic implies the best, works deserving the highest praise or possessing extraordinary merit, insight, substance or style. According to Cicero, a classic is like good wine, getting better with age. Alternately, “classic” can used as an antithesis to “romantic,” where classical refers to grounded in reason, whereas romantic is based on emotion, such as the categorization of Classical versus Romantic periods in instrumental music. Continue reading