Do you ever have that dream where you're taking a final exam for one class or another, and when you sit down to go to work you realize you haven't done any of the reading, or attended any of the classes, and don't have even the slightest idea how to answer any of the questions? Well, I haven't had it in quite a while, although it used to be one of my recurring nightmares. And that feeling of panic and frustration that accompanies the dream? Well, that's exactly how I felt when I read this week's Booking Through Thursday topic.
Here's the question: Do you think any current author is of the same caliber as Dickens, Austen, Bronte, or any of the classic authors? If so, who, and why do you think so? If not, why not? What books from this era might be read 100 years from now?
I feel like I've stumbled into English Lit 101, and you know what? I'm just not ready for this!
So I'll just say that, if I felt qualified to answer it, my response to the first part of this question would be a definite maybe. See, I'm not a big Dickens fan – never have understood the adulation there. And as for the Brontes – well, they wrote a couple of great books (Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre), but I really don't think the rest of their output comes up to that level. I can't help thinking that they're actually remembered more for their interesting life stories than for their literary achievements. Jane Austen, on the other hand, is truly one of the greats and no, I don't think there's really anyone writing today who's in her class.
I do believe there is some very fine writing around today – worth reading and remembering and passing on to posterity. But with the future of the book and the future of reading as we know it being debated and researched and pondered in every university, publishing house, book store, and literary or educational establishment on the planet right now, I would not dare make any predictions about what or who will be read a hundred years from now. Let's just hope the human life forms who are still around in 2109 will still be able to read for pure enjoyment or personal enlightenment. And that they'll still have that same passion for reading. But right now, it's hard to be optimistic.