What is a literary classic and why are these classic works important to the world?
A literary classic is a work of the highest excellence that has something important to say about life and/or the human condition and says it with great artistry. A classic, through its enduring presence, has withstood the test of time and is not bound by time, place, or customs. It speaks to us today as forcefully as it spoke to people one hundred or more years ago, and as forcefully as it will speak to people of future generations. For this reason, a classic is said to have universality.
Lewis Carroll is the pseudonym of the English writer and mathematician Charles Lutwidge Dodgson. Carroll was born in Cheshire, England, on Jan. 27, 1832. As a young boy, puzzles, logic, and mathematics fascinated him, and this interest continued throughout his life. His pen name, in fact, is an anglicized form of the Latin translation of his first and middle names, “Carolus Lodovicus.”
In 1855, while working toward becoming a priest, Carroll met Henry Liddell and his family, which included Alice Liddell, the young girl who provided the inspiration for both Alice In Wonderland and its sequel, Through The Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There. By 1861, Lewis Carroll had already published a few volumes on mathematics and some short poetry. However, his most famous works were still ahead of him. He conceived of the Alice stories during a few boat rides with the Liddell children, when he would actually tell the stories aloud, making them up on the journey.
In 1865, Alice's Adventures In Wonderland was printed, and it immediately became quite popular, providing Carroll with a substantial income. Six years later he published Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There.
Over the next thirty years, Lewis Carroll wrote numerous other books, including The Hunting of the Snark and Sylvie And Bruno, in addition to some discourses on mathematics and logic, but none ever quite matched the appeal and popularity that his stories of Alice did.
Carroll died on Jan. 14, 1898, from complications of either bronchitis or pneumonia.