Yes, I’ve read and taught it before, but I had an excuse to read it again, as a reader, and I relished it. As I read it, I thought about a question that we should ask repeatedly – what makes a book a classic? I will try not to spend much time repeating the obvious about timeless themes, though they are present here, and how much we should judge the writer by choices they made that are veiwed through a very different lens by a modern reader.
This time, for me, it was the new details that stood out – things I’d never noticed or considered before. And it was the sentences. I just enjoyed their deliberate and elegant precision. Finally, it was the book’s compactness. I could find no scene to remove, no moment that I skimmed. It is all engaging; it all matters. It is, in my mind, a classic.