Classic

Classic refers not only to texts but to ideals and aspirations. As Deborah Stevenson says of Lewis Carroll’s Alice: “Eventually, a children’s literature classic masters being beloved without actually being read . . . you do not have to read Alice, but you will be deemed culturally illiterate should you not acknowledge it as a children’s literature classic” (1997, 126). The classic is imagined variously as a gift, a bribe, a promise, a legacy, and a contract. Classic stands for the past but claims relevance for and demands accommodation to the present. It claims continuity across translation in language or form. The classic represents selectivity but circulates widely. The classic binds together time and timelessness, the exceptional and the typical, the historical and the contemporary, the organic and the manufactured, the universal and the personal.

Classic is also a Western construction with particular Anglo-European inflection. It shores up

This essay may be found on page 44 of the printed volume.

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