I’ve blogged quite a bit over the last few weeks about my love of classic books; It set me thinking about why it is that I find them so appealing. What is it about them?
Is it the escapism of reading something set in a time so far removed from our own? Partly perhaps. Is it because in time of less scientific knowledge, dark lamp lit rooms and sinister shadows, foggy streets where strangers can creep up unseen, there is more scope for atmosphere and chills? I think so, in part.
I suspect though that a big part of the appeal is the language. I know some people say that they struggle with the old fashioned language but I revel in it. Of course, sentences are longer and there are some words that aren’t commonly used now and there are expressions that aren’t used in the same context anymore. All that aside though I find the language so much more descriptive and evocative.
There’s something in the beautifully crafted and sometimes conversational, if formal, tones of classic literature that conjures a more sensory if not vivid image than modern language. That’s not to say that modern literature doesn’t have it’s appeals too but I’m speaking only of language in this instance.
What is it about the style of language that has fallen out of fashion? I suppose the language was formal which reflected society. In theory at least we are much freer now. Has language gone too far though? Obviously language evolves, as it should, new words pop into existence and abbreviations abound but I can’t help wondering if, in our quest for informality, we’ve lost some of the beauty of language; after all language is there to convey meaning, but a cunningly crafted piece of writing can also convey emotion.
Now I’m all for the invention of new words, if it’s good enough for Dickens, Caroll and Shakespeare etc, language has always evolved and always will. This said though classic literature is a treat, you see so many words which have fallen out of common usage. I think it would be lovely, dear reader, if we made a small space in our vocabulary to preserve some of those fabulous words from being confined entirely to history.
For example instead of calling your partner a lying scumbag – which is descriptive enough in its own way – try calling them a mendacious scoundrel 😉