The Zits comic strip, starring an eternally 16-year-old teenager, made an especially clever quip about books a short while back. With tongue firmly in cheek, Jeremy tells his mother that the classic novel she’s recommending is so old that it should be disposed of with hazmat equipment.
Joking aside, I think there could be some truth to this. A lot of the works we call classics now weren’t written as literature. Shakespeare, for example, was probably trying to write the sitcom of his day rather than the drama his plays are viewed as. Also, many of the novels by Charles Dickens and Mart Twain have the feel of being written as pop fiction, not some enduring classic.
The langauge in the books is outdated now, so it might make sense to include an expiration date. What do you think?