Battle between Books

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Anybody who is nearing the end of their teenage years or are in their mid-twenties, surely understand the joy of reading books. I particularly mentioned this age group, ’cause I believe that we are probably the last generation of people to have enjoyed the company of  actual physical books. The bundles of thin paper that brings immediate joy even now; those handy friends who double up as pillows and last but not the last, are THE birthday gifts. Ranging from the Classics to new-age fiction, reading is a joy. The present generation may not find the Classics as appealing as us, but those thick volumes of endless journeys and descriptions still remain interesting. Of course, there are the serious readers who wouldn’t mind going through thick volumes, but there is always the awareness of a lack of enough time. As I look around at the countless young faces matured by smudged eye-color and painted lips proclaiming their “womanhood”, I wonder whether these kids have ever read “Little Women”, or “Vanity Fair”. They might be fans of “Hunger Games” or “The Twilight Saga”. Modern. Liberated. Classics to them might be like being stuck in the past, with long arduous passages proclaiming how a single room could suffocate an entire family.

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These youngsters might not have even read comics of Batman, Superman and our beloved Tintin. Well, who reads comics? They are for kids. And these youngsters I spot everyday are not “kids”. They are ardent fans of “The Secret life of the American Teenager” and “Awkward” and everything “American”. It’s strange, how children and people in general confuse the trends of one country with modernity and progress.

So as I was saying, with the progress of the times the choice of literature has changed, true, but have the classics lost their appeal?

With the advent of PDF formats along with a host of other options for making books affordable and accessible, classics of any language should be the preferred choice, for they not only reflect the change in the times, but also provide the basics of the present literature.

Some might have the opinion that “old books” restrict progress, though that is a most illogical point to ponder upon. Literature of the bygone era is just a reflection of the trends, the situation, the condition of the society, of the writer’s mind of that particular period.

Looking back to my growing up years, I find myself in a world that would be equal to a deserted village for teens nowadays. I never had fancy gadgets. And the internet belonged to the “privileged classes”, the people who had computers as well as laptops at home. I had dolls to play with and board games like Scrabble, Pictionary and the all-time favorite Ludo. And when I wasn’t busy playing, usually I would read Enid Blyton over and over again. Dickens was always a favorite after Enid and then there was “The Giant Book of Classic Chillers”, side by side with the short stories of O.Henry and of course, “The Diary of a Young Girl”.

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The books mentioned above have now collected a thick pile of dust, mostly because they are very, very old an partly because I haven’t read them in a long while. But I know this much, if I have enough time, I’ll probably start reading them once again. Many youngsters I know haven’t even heard of O.Henry and I remember gifting a collection of his short stories to a teen, which still lies untouched in her bookcase.

The “progressive” generation teases the not-so-tech-savvy for being “old-fashioned” and “slow”. Technology has become the symbol of progress and of modernity and anyone who doesn’t embrace it, becomes a slowpoke. I don’t understand one thing though. Why isn’t the help of technology sought in promoting books? In the promotion of buying hard copies and holding them, reading them, reading out from them and treasuring each and every page of thought. Why aren’t enough measures taken to promote classics of literature? Classics are the backbone of literature. It’s like, you are dependent on your parents and indebted to them forever. You don’t just throw them out or keep them in piles, gathering dust. This is where books merge with human lives.

We are all characters in the same theater and we all have our own stories to talk about. Don’t we love listening to the tales of our grandparents and parents of their days of yore? The numerous stories and tales weaved so perfectly that you don’t even realize when you have drifted into a land of dreams that seem so unlike the world in which you live. They are like classics in the oral tradition. Interestingly enough, if you start writing down these, they’ll probably be really thick volumes as well.

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What I’m trying to say is, the old and the new deserve to be side by side. Just as new authors are given a chance, so shouldn’t the old authors be forgotten, just because they’re old. Their works go beyond the finite borders of time and space and just like the stories told by our elders,  never fail to transcend reality.

 

Believer. Reader. Brooder.