Modernity and the Classic

“The modern work is condemned to become dated unless, by achieving the status of a classic, it manages to free itself from the fluctuations of taste and critical opinion… Literarily speaking, a classic is a work that rises above competition and so escapes the bidding of time. Only in this way can a modern work be rescued from aging, by being declared timeless and immortal.” (92)

Casanova, Pascale. The World Republic of Letters. Translated by M. B. DeBevoise. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004.

Whereas the modern author tries desperately to be as modern and contemporary as possible, his real success, paradoxically, is creating something that is timeless and classic – and by doing so, defining what it is to be literature.