What is a canon?
A special category of literature is the literary canon which takes the concept
of great literature a step further. According to the American Heritage Dictionary
a canon is “a group of works which are authoritative” and “a basis for judgment;
standard; criterion”. When deciding which literary works should be a part
of a literary canon questions that come to mind are who has the authority
to decide; and, also, which criteria shall be used. There are many possible
answers to these questions with the result that there is not just one canon.
Some say that the criteria for being included among canonical works should
be purely aesthetic and not involve morality or the formation of social or
political values in the reader. Others claim that originality of form, content
and perspective, as well as the influence a literary work has had in shaping
the thought of its time are essential for inclusion in the canon. Another
decisive factor could be simply that many people find the book worth reading.
Which books would you include?