The general perception is no, but the truth is yes. There are aficionados that stand by classics, un-swayed by the onslaught of the likes of Fifty Shades of Grey.
Among the books on the racks in Landmark, marked new arrivals, you will find a book called Seduce. If you are “seduced”, then be ready to Surrender and then Satisfy. If you arrange these books in order, their covers will give you the complete picture: a woman lying on a couch with her head thrown back with her lover at her feet, “at work”.
Since the gigantic success of Fifty shades of Grey, bookstores have been stashed with similar books and justifiably so because of the steady sale. If you can see beyond the hysteria set off by books of erotica and sensuality, then next place on the podium of popularity, at least here in Hyderabad, is taken by books such as I too have a love story, Oh Shit, Not Again! and She Broke Up, I Didn’t!… I Just Kissed Someone Else!
And somewhere tucked away in a corner of a bookstore, quiet and sombre like a chapel, you will find the section “Classics”. It’s extraordinary if you find a soul browsing the collection there on a week day.
Works of Shakespeare, Joyce, Hardy and Austen lie there uncomplaining, though these are doyens and it is the sheer class of their work that has given them eternal life.
So, do people read classics today? The general perception is no, but the truth is yes. There are still aficionados that stand by classics, un-swayed by the onslaught of the likes of Fifty Shades of Grey.
“Of course, if you consider the sales, classics are way behind in comparison with bestsellers,” Siju Joy, who works with Landmark. “But there’s a steady, loyal bunch which come on Saturdays and Sundays and pick an old favourite.”
Siju says when they had an offer on classics, the section was teeming with people. “There were people from all age groups,” said Siju and added that he remembers a guy who had come three days in a row and gone back with “basketful of books”.Otherwise, it’s mostly college students and the mature crowd that come for classics.
“Pride and Prejudice of Jane Austen is a great favourite,” said Siju. “So are works of Charles Dickens. Youngsters who are with theatre groups come looking for works of Chekov and Shaw. I remember a senior citizen asking for Homer’s Odyssey.”“There are even takers for Shakespeare.”
There is a newfound interest in classics when they are made into movies. “There was demand for Christmas Carol and Alice in Wonderland when these were made into movies,” said Ramesh M, who is with Crosswords.
Sunayana Sen, who works with Facebook, said of her love for works of Tagore. “I don’t read much of English classics, but I read a lot of Tagore. I have read Merchant of Venice and Tempest, as I wanted to check out what’s the hype about Shakespeare.”
Kovuuri Ganapathy Reddy, who works with the AP information centre in Delhi, recalled fond memories of reading Wuthering Heights. “That’s a dark and intense book.”Ganapathy Reddy said the essence of classics is it has everlasting life.“Classics stand the test of time. You can go back to it and re-read anytime and it still fascinates you.”