|Giorgio de Chirico, The Return of Ulysses|
The “classical” is something raised above the vicissitudes of changing times and changing tastes. It is immediately accessible, not through that shock of recognition, as it were, that sometimes characterizes a work of art for its contemporaries and in which the beholder experiences a fulfilled apprehension of meaning that surpasses all conscious expectations. Rather, when we call something classical, there is a consciousness of something enduring, of significance that cannot be lost and that is independent of all the circumstances of time—a kind of timeless present that is contemporaneous with every other present.
I have this stupid habit of jotting down quotes I want to discuss in posts along with cryptic comments on them, and then never write those posts and forget what I was going to say and what those comments meant. In this case, I think I wanted to take advantage of the fact that, by his own admission later in the text, Gadamer's criterion applies to any kind of classic, not just those of the classical antiquity, and talk about the tension between being timeless and being historically bound in classic literature.
But I am unlikely to write such a post because I'm a. lazy and b. much more interested in "that shock of recognition" that Gadamer claims we get with contemporary literature (and how it applies beyond that), so... enjoy this rather nice quote about what makes a classic on its own.