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Archive - General > How would you define what a Classic Mystery is?

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message 1: by CMT Moderator (new)

CMT Moderator (cmtmoderator) | 47 comments The Question of the Month included in our monthly polls is...

Would you like to see the group include an additional group read selection that focuses on Classic Mysteries?

Given that "classic" has no standard definition that is something that we will need to suss out.

So, how do you define a classic mystery? Is it a book that is pre-1980, over 50, 75 or 100 years old? Does it have anything or everything to do with when it was written or published? Or do you define a classic in some other way?


message 2: by Jamie, Moderator (new)

Jamie Zaccaria | 153 comments Mod
The obvious answer is anything by Agatha Christie but also its fame and how widespread the publishing is (is it known worldwide, has it stayed popular through the years, etc.)


message 3: by Beth (new)

Beth  (techeditor) | 1005 comments any classic is one that has stood the test of time, that doesn't go out of print.


message 4: by Barbara K (new)

Barbara K | 328 comments Jamie wrote: "The obvious answer is anything by Agatha Christie but also its fame and how widespread the publishing is (is it known worldwide, has it stayed popular through the years, etc.)"

Good observation, Jamie.

Maybe it would make sense to toss around some specific authors/titles to see how the group feels about them. I would like the definition to be broad enough to include Chandler and Hammett and Wolfe, for instance, and not just “golden age” authors.


message 5: by Icewineanne, Moderator (new)

Icewineanne | 654 comments Mod
Classic crime for me means anything written before 1960


message 6: by Madiha Naaz (new)

Madiha Naaz Khan (thegirlmentallyinaustralia) | 2 comments I think according to me, it would be Sherlock Holmes. Though its not exactly fit the term but yeah i think Sherlock Holmes can be a classic crime and another would Agatha christie.


message 7: by Aditya (new)

Aditya | 1865 comments I will say anything pre 1980s could be considered a classic. Thirty years is a long time in the current pop cultural landscape to decide whether any piece of entertainment (art sounds pretentious) has stood the test of time. Just to compare books with other mediums from 1970s, say movies - The Godfathers, One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest or music - Dylan, Rolling Stones and no one will dispute those examples as classics. So 1980 feels appropriate to me, the date can even be brought forward but not back.

An argument can even be made to bring the date forward to 2000 because twenty years is a pretty long time in the internet era to form a consensus about a book. Bringing it up to 2000 will include books like James Ellroy's LA Confidential or Thomas Harris' The Silence of the Lambs - books that I feel a lot of fans consider classics of the genre.


message 8: by Barbara K (new)

Barbara K | 328 comments Aditya wrote: "books that I feel a lot of fans consider classics of the genre."

I was thinking about that issue as well. Is there such a thing as a classic within a genre that transcends a time limit?


message 9: by Laurence (new)

Laurence Giliotti Are we talking about acknowledged "classics" that can be found on any number of lists, or are we looking for the elements that are contained in "traditional" mysteries?


message 10: by Gem , Moderator & Admin (new)

Gem  | 1267 comments Mod
Laurence wrote: "Are we talking about acknowledged "classics" that can be found on any number of lists, or are we looking for the elements that are contained in "traditional" mysteries?"

I want the group to be able to define what the word classic means to us, so we can go forward with including a "classic" mystery read on a monthly basis. I'm totally open to whatever the group consensus it.


message 11: by Gem , Moderator & Admin (last edited Apr 09, 2019 08:59AM) (new)

Gem  | 1267 comments Mod
On a personal note, I have a hard time thinking in terms of a hard timeline. For example, if we say 50 years then half of Agatha Christies' books don't qualify.

I like the pre-1980 idea but I have trouble thinking anything before I was born is a classic but that just because it dates me, lol.

Down the line we can revisit the definition, it doesn't have to be set in stone.


message 12: by Jamie, Moderator (new)

Jamie Zaccaria | 153 comments Mod
I don't think it's the date that determines it so much as the longevity. Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is new but a classic IMO.


message 13: by Barbara K (new)

Barbara K | 328 comments I agree, Jamie. When I commented about within-genres classics regardless of when they were written, I was thinking of GWTDT as a classic Nordic noir.


message 14: by Alex (new)

Alex | 5 comments I think time must be taken into account. Regardless of genre, a classic has always been defined as a book that has stood the test of time. Decidedly different generations have found something worthy in a classic, so it rises above the tastes and attitudes of the moment.


message 15: by Bicky (new)

Bicky | 35 comments Alex wrote: "I think time must be taken into account. Regardless of genre, a classic has always been defined as a book that has stood the test of time. Decidedly different generations have found something worth..."

I completely agree. One cannot have an instant classic. It is like all those award winners which have faded away. The question remains - how much time?


message 16: by Carol (last edited Apr 25, 2019 07:33PM) (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) CMT Moderator wrote: "The Question of the Month included in our monthly polls is...

Would you like to see the group include an additional group read selection that focuses on Classic Mysteries?

Given that "classic" ha..."


The standard threshold for a classic is, published at least 50 years prior. I don’t see any benefit to defining it differently for mysteries. There are many great classic mysteries written by authors other than Christie and Doyle, and many classic mystery authors who aren’t Brits or Americans.


message 17: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen Daly | 142 comments I do agree with Carol and for instance, Mary Shelley and Frankenstein. But being in agreement with whoever said 50 yrs being enough, how about using that as a benchmark but allowing for a consensus on a younger book that we all think will stand the test of time. I was thinking of Silence of the Lambs, but to me that’s a horror story that was based on real events. So we must perhaps think carefully on which younger book is really a mystery story.


message 18: by Bicky (new)

Bicky | 35 comments Kathleen wrote: "Silence of the Lambs, but to me that’s a horror story that was based on real events..."

Can you please elaborate?


message 19: by Bicky (new)

Bicky | 35 comments Carol wrote: "CMT Moderator wrote: "The Question of the Month included in our monthly polls is...

Would you like to see the group include an additional group read selection that focuses on Classic Mysteries?

G..."


50 years sounds to be right.


message 20: by Jess (new)

Jess Penhallow | 10 comments 50 years seems to be the standard definition. I guess the difference with the mystery genre is that it is mainly made up of series. Maybe the definition should be extended to series where the first installment was written more than 50 years ago as the character has stood the test of time by virtue of continued demand for stories featuring them.


message 21: by Barbara K (new)

Barbara K | 328 comments Jess wrote: "50 years seems to be the standard definition. I guess the difference with the mystery genre is that it is mainly made up of series. Maybe the definition should be extended to series where the first installment was written more than 50 years ago as the character has stood the test of time by virtue of continued demand for stories featuring them."

Good point, Jess.


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