Part of it comes with our Classics Club member cards. Being a Classics Clubber seems to involve thinking about the classics - about what makes a classic classic, about our relationship with these books and why they still have the power to affect us - quite a lot. We know we're not alone in this because we've read a handful of very insightful posts on this topic lately, all from fellow Classics Clubbers. And this is the part that makes us grateful that we have the classics, that, no matter their faults, they still have something good and beautiful to give.
Part of it is the discomforting realization that our map has a lot of uncharted territories in it. Like a medieval map, it is full of "Here be dragons," "Here be lions," "Here be writers we never heard of." We had this feeling reading Martina's excellent post about Polish literature. We have it every time we read a book that seems to have slipped through the cracks of the Western Canon. We even have it reading less known works from famous authors. It's like a feeling of vertigo. It's not that we had missed something - we will never read all the famous works, anyway - it's that no one told us there was something to miss. And this is the part that makes us crave more than the Western Canon, that makes us want to discover new books and new authors.
And, finally, part of it comes from an occasional desire to throw away maps altogether. There was this paragraph recently on Electric Literature's tumblr that made us nod in approval. It's from Michael Cunningham recommending a neglected classic:
I’m urging you to experience something like what I did, in consenting to read an obscure novel, an experience that involved not only the discovery of the novel itself but the attendant realization that the world is host to such novels—call them the “invisible classics.” Call them “Canon B.” It makes for a richer, more fabulous sense of what might be out there, beyond the titles one read (or pretended to have read) in college.
We read this and we thought to ask you: do you know any invisible classics? Do you know any works that should receive more attention than they do? Any works that are from foreign literature and receive little or no attention in Canon A? It doesn't have to be that they are completely neglected (an academic out there is surely writing articles about them as you speak), but that you feel they are not popular enough. I myself wish that more people read Boris Vian and more people read James' The Ambassadors (which, admittedly, doesn't lack for critical acclaim).
So please share your favorite invisible classics with us. We're taking notes and building A Hitchhiker's Guide to Canon B (also known as a to-read list).