Standing the Test of Time

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Standing the Test of Time

Postby inca » Thu Apr 14, 2011 12:39 pm

I have split the following post from The Last Continent Discussion to this dedicated thread as I think this is a topic worth discussing.

Tony.
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raisindot wrote:With a few exceptions (such as Pterry), English-language writing has been in decline for decades, keeping pace with the declining literary IQ of readers in general.


On the other hand, you are breaking up the time period in much smaller steps (decades for the 1900's, centuries before that). Limit it to 100-year periods and you can come up with 3 writers that will be 'classical'.

We just haven't had that great filter of a few hundred years to judge.
There's lots of rubbish out there, sure enough, because there is just a whole lot of books out there. And I for one find it easier to give classical writers some leeway on writing. If Romeo and Juliet were written today, I'm not sure if I would have appreciated it the same (especially the language. It may be powerful but it is also not something to read relaxingly), and part of its power is in that it is something we can still relate to today.
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Postby Dotsie » Thu Apr 14, 2011 1:55 pm

There has been an almighty amount of crap written throughout the centuries. The only reason that we might think writing was better hundreds of years ago is that only the good stuff survived.

Certainly the written language has evolved, but like biological evolution, it's neither better nor worse, just different.
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Postby Tonyblack » Thu Apr 14, 2011 2:22 pm

Dotsie wrote:There has been an almighty amount of crap written throughout the centuries. The only reason that we might think writing was better hundreds of years ago is that only the good stuff survived.

Certainly the written language has evolved, but like biological evolution, it's neither better nor worse, just different.
Amen to that! There's nothing like the test of time to sort out the rubbish! :lol:

Somehow I really think that Terry's books will survive the test of time and people will still be reading them in decades, maybe even centuries to come.

Some of his books will, I think survive better than others. I'm not sure about Last Continent. Maybe people will read it in the future and wonder what the hell he's going on about. :lol:
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Postby Willem » Thu Apr 14, 2011 2:32 pm

Tonyblack wrote:

Somehow I really think that Terry's books will survive the test of time and people will still be reading them in decades, maybe even centuries to come.


That's an interesting thought. Which would you consider to be the 'timeless' books? We can probably count out Moving Pictures and Soul Music - too many contemperary references. Small Gods seems a likely (and maybe the only) candidate.
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Postby poohcarrot » Thu Apr 14, 2011 2:34 pm

Pyramids! :lol:
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Postby Willem » Thu Apr 14, 2011 2:37 pm

Nah the Egypt pyramids will have disappeared by then, there's this bird that keeps flying to it and sharpen it's beak on them each year. Shouldn't take long before it's ground down. Meaning even fewer will understand this book then than they do now :)
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Postby Penfold » Thu Apr 14, 2011 3:26 pm

Tonyblack wrote:Somehow I really think that Terry's books will survive the test of time and people will still be reading them in decades, maybe even centuries to come.

I was thinking along similar lines that in 500 years time or so would kids, towing their hover satchels, be going into school complaining about having 'double Pratchett' like the way some of my friends used to complain about double periods of Shakespeare? And would a couple of kids in the class be inspired to read other 'old classics' as a result? :D
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Postby Tonyblack » Thu Apr 14, 2011 3:38 pm

The thing about Terry's work is that he writes primarily about people and the way the act and react. I don't think people change that much over the years, which makes the books relevant.
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Postby pip » Thu Apr 14, 2011 4:05 pm

Its a curious question. I agree with Tony though. Good character writing bridge gaps of time so characters like vimes and granny would still be interesting in the future giving this books a chance at timelessness. Vorbis and Pteppic won't :wink:
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Postby raisindot » Thu Apr 14, 2011 4:41 pm

Tonyblack wrote:Somehow I really think that Terry's books will survive the test of time and people will still be reading them in decades, maybe even centuries to come.


Dunno about that. Much as I love PTerry, I don't see the books having significant 'lasting' power. Partly I think it's because, as others have said, they have too many contemporary references that no one will remember a hundred years from now.

Also, I think being in the SF/fantasy genre also hurts its longevity. I mean, how many fantasy or fantastical books written a hundred years ago are still widely read today? The only reason anyone reads Frank Baum's Wizard of Oz series or the Peter Pan series or even Burrough's Tarzan series is because people read the books after seeing the movies. But you don't find huge numbers of people outside certain SF groups reading or discussing HP Lovecraft's books, as influential as they were at the time.

If DW books continued to be widely read a hundred years from now it will mainly be because of their accessibility; being online, you'll never need to find an out of print hardcover and they'll be rediscovered through searches and online discussions. But I think they'll remembered as pieces of their time, rather than as 'timeless classics.'
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Postby spideyGirl » Thu Apr 14, 2011 4:49 pm

Penfold wrote:
Tonyblack wrote:Somehow I really think that Terry's books will survive the test of time and people will still be reading them in decades, maybe even centuries to come.

I was thinking along similar lines that in 500 years time or so would kids, towing their hover satchels, be going into school complaining about having 'double Pratchett' like the way some of my friends used to complain about double periods of Shakespeare? And would a couple of kids in the class be inspired to read other 'old classics' as a result? :D


I've always thought there were similarities between Shakespeare and Pratchett, afterall he was a playwright writing for the people, to entertain them in his own time.
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Postby Tonyblack » Thu Apr 14, 2011 4:56 pm

Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift was a fantastical book written much more than 100 years ago. It was full of satire based on contemporary references and yet it's still widely read and relevant.

Swift, like Terry, wrote about the human condition. I couldn't believe how much Gulliver's Travels still had a lot to say to the 21st Century when I read it. :)
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Postby inca » Thu Apr 14, 2011 6:25 pm

I think most of the discworld-books can stand the test of time for quite a while. The lighter parody books with lots of reference go out of date relatively quickly (although... not even that fast, because while I can't relate directly to most of the actual references in for example Moving Pictures, lots of the cliches have moved into the general domain and continue to live on through many more parodies and references.)

But Small Gods, Thief of Time, the Watch-books, I think they will continue to be liked for a long time, lots of themes are timeless (like wars, conquering land, killing people. I'm sure humans will continue to relate to that for a looooong time to come...)
Certain things will probably go out of style: I can imagine the running Disorganiser-jokes will not be as funny in a hundred years. And I'm also sure we're missing such subtleties in older stories as well. But that doesn't matter, does it?

I liked Gulliver's travels as well. (That's one I'm sure we don't grasp all subtleties but where it also doesn't matter if you miss a few.)
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Postby Tonyblack » Thu Apr 14, 2011 6:41 pm

pip wrote:Its a curious question. I agree with Tony though. Good character writing bridge gaps of time so characters like vimes and granny would still be interesting in the future giving this books a chance at timelessness. Vorbis and Pteppic won't :wink:
I think you mean Dios. :wink:

Actually, even Pyramids will, I feel, stand the test of time far more than Moving Pictures or, to a degree, Soul Music. Pyramids is about a country that almost destroys itself by sticking rigidly to tradition. Somehow I don't think that will ever go out of fashion.
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Postby poohcarrot » Thu Apr 14, 2011 10:01 pm

So pip doesn't like Pyramids AND Small Gods. :lol:
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