What is a Classic?

"Perhaps a classic is a work that one imagines should be common knowledge, but more and more often isn't."
W. S. Merwin in Lost Classics, ed. Michael Ondatje et al. (New York: Anchor, 2000) 143.

"A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say."
Italo Calvino Definition 5 in "Why Read the Classics?" in The Uses of Literature, tr. Patrick Creagh (San Diego, New York, London: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1986) 128.



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