I was perusing Pinterest this afternoon and came across this nifty picture. Seeing that it included classic books, I stopped my mindless scrolling, looked through it, and nearly shouted aloud.
No!!! No. No. NO. N.O. No.
What was so frustrating about this pin? Well, first of all is the fact that it lists Nicholas Sparks alongside Shakespeare, which is like creating a playlist of music that includes Miley Cyrus and Beethoven; it is not okay. (Nobody wants to be interrupted by “Wrecking Ball” between movements of “Sonata Pathetique”!)
Secondly, many of these books are not love stories! Aside from Nicholas Sparks and several others which I have not read, these books, although they center on romantic relationships, were not written to be advertised as “The Greatest Love Stories of All Time”! Rather, their authors used romantic relationships, usually FAILED romantic relationships at that, to communicate other concepts. I have serious doubts as to whether the creator of this pin read anything beyond the synopsis paragraphs, and if he/she did, I am begging him/her to reread them with a little more mental effort. Please, for the sake of literature nerds everywhere and for the authors who are turning over in their graves as I write. Sure, these novels may appear to be love stories, but…
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell: Failed loved triangle, lust wins over love, the only true love comes from a dying woman whose husband is nearly unfaithful to her. Also romantic gold.
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy: Anna commits adultery, abandons her husband and child, and ultimately throws herself under a train in a realization of her guilt. Practically flowers and chocolate.
Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare: Two angsty teenagers kill themselves after a forbidden
marriage. I don’t even have a snarky comment. This is tragedy, pure and simple.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald: Gatsby’s love for Daisy is a representation of his desire for acceptance by the “Old Money” of society, so if wealth and envy are synonymous with love, then certainly this is a love story. Who cares if the lovers actually end up together, right?
Okay, so now that I have relieved myself through sarcasm, I will admit that this list is not completely wrong. Some of these books are quite adorable and “loverly.” Jane Eyre had a warm, fuzzy resolution, The Princess Bride is a romantic romp, and I can’t deny that Pride and Prejudice is delightful. (Who doesn’t love Mr. Darcy?) However, I wish that readers would exercise more discernment; a pair (or triangle) of lovers does not imply a romance, just as a death does not mean a tragedy. Books are much more than an “adventure” or “mystery” or, in this case, a “love story” and we have a duty as readers to study the masterpieces of these authors with a mind that can see beyond the surface and ponder the deeper implications of the seemingly straight-forward plots.
Granted, even if it isn’t a love story, I’d venture to say that it’s still a better love story than Twilight.
Apologies if you liked Twilight. I haven’t read it, but it was such a fitting end to this post! 😉