I don't often think about the so-called "Literary Cannon." It's a useful reference for sure and no doubt fun to debate. However, it's not anything that would really occupy my mindspace despite the fact I deal with literature on a daily basis.
Anyway, I was asked on two different occasions today what books were being added to the Great Books/Literary Cannon. I can only assume there was some kind of debate online about it, so I answered the curious minds as best I could.
I said that I am no expert on it and absolutely have no say on the matter. Therefore, my opinion is not particularly valid. Pressed, I told each inquirer that my observations tell me that books written in the 1960's were currently entering the cannon.
I pointed out that novels and stories from the 50's such as The Lord of the Flies, The Lord of the Rings, Fahrenheit 451, Atlas Shrugged, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Old Man and the Sea, and Things Fall Apart are widely regarded as great classics. In fact, some are even cliché at this point.
One of my interrogators wanted to know which books specifically from the 1960's I felt were being added. I shrugged and said if I were forced to give my own guess I would say:
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
- A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
- One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
- The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan
- The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
- Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou