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The Revival of Classic Literature

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Time and time again we are told of the millennial generation’s lack of knowledge. From history to literature, millions of millennials rely on soundbites provided by YouTubers to formulate any opinions and viewpoints about the world in which they live. True education, which involves expansive thought and critique, has been stolen from them, as they have been placed within the walls of indoctrination stations.

This sounds like the beginning of deeply harrowing story, but how would a millennial even know this, for they no longer read classic literature. Well, that is not quite true.

Thankfully, all is not lost. There exist among us millennials going against the grain, utilizing the books of yesteryear, and daring to read and learn from said books that make up the Western canon.

In a time when classic literature is under attack (Cambridge and Yale to Remove Classical ‘White’ Authors and Shakespeare Removed From Penn), it is refreshing and encouraging to find any proponent. One such voice of reason is Ashlee Doherty, the creator and owner of Coffee and a Classic. Doherty found a way to create enthusiasm for reading classic literature through making subscription boxes that include themed items to be paired with a novel. Every month customers order a box that is delivered to their doorstep. They know the box will include a classic novel and a package of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate. There will also be several “bookish” items which range from coffee mugs to bookmarks to snacks. But they do not know which novel it will be, and that is half of the fun.

“I was thinking of my favorite things and how I wanted to not only spend my time in terms of what I enjoy to do in my leisure time, but how to translate that into something that I could do for work,” said Doherty, whose company is based in Portland, Maine. “And coffee and books are two of my favorite things.”

Doherty epitomizes the entrepreneurial spirit, in direct contrast to many of her millennial peers who choose to complain rather than take action. She encourages a better understanding of the authors of yesteryear because they still serve fundamental purposes, centuries after their ideas were put to paper.

“The theories behind these books are so timeless and have been around for so many years because they speak to some underlying sense of society or characters that we can all relate to,” Doherty said. “The ones that last speak to something big and something personal at the same time.”

Doherty’s company is unique in its focus on classic literature, as opposed to the abundantly available young adult literature, much of which is becoming the materials in the classrooms. In creating a business during the attack on the classics, Doherty has discovered that the novels appeal to the masses.

“Originally, I thought I had a certain age range for this subscription, but it spans anywhere from 20 years old to 65 years old,” Doherty said. “The older generation really feels a connection to these stories and want to share it with their children and grandchildren. I have a lot of younger subscribers that are English majors in college that want to start building the collection of books.”

The thirst for knowledge is present in today’s society, and rather than discard the classics because they predominantly are comprised of “old, dead, white guys,” open the books and see what they say. In our hypersensitive world, people must be compelled to seek what is right and honest. Classics are classics because of their transcendence through time, reaching above politics and into the morality of our souls. To suggest they are anything but demonstrates a real need to open their pages to find the truth.