The Classics

The idea of the “classic,” particularly how a book is elevated to that status, has always fascinated me. I even wrote my master’s thesis on the many cheap reprint editions of “classics” in the twentieth century: Modern Library, Everyman’s Library, Penguin Classics, Puffin Classics, Perennial Classics, Loeb Classical, Oxford’s World’s Classics, Signet Classics, S&S Classic Editions, Verso Classics, Vintage Classics, Washington Square Enriched Classics, Bantam Classics, Barnes & Noble Classics, Cameo Classics, Harvard Classics, Library of America - to name some on my bookshelves. (I will spare you any further description of my thesis.)

So it piques my interest that the New York Review of Books is celebrating the tenth anniversary of its NYRB Classics series this month. There was an event in New York earlier this month, but the event in London next week couldn’t suit me better. Darn it, why wasn’t this one held in New York?

From the NYRB e-newsletter:

Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2009, 6:30 p.m.
The Gallery at Foyles
113-119 Charing Cross Road
London, UK
020 7437 5660

What is a classic? When does a great book become a classic and who decides? Over the past ten years, the NYRB Classics series has explored the boundaries of this enduring but problematic term. Mary Beard, Geoff Dyer, Adam Thirlwell, and the NYRB Classics series editor Edwin Frank will discuss these questions.

Tickets: Free, email events@foyles.co.uk to reserve a place.


I’m sure this event will be lively, as the canon and the classics are heady topics for literary types. If any readers are in London and can attend, we’d love a report.

p.s. NYRB is having an anniversary sale on its classics line through November.
Auction Guide