Classics You Can't Believe Are Classics

Short post today since I'm a-summer-homeworking. I'm currently reading and taking notes on THE LONG FUSE: AN INTERPRETATION OF THE ORIGINS OF WORLD WAR I. If the title didn't put you the sleep already, the writing will. The content's interesting, but I can never understand the convoluted structuring and wording of these in-depth historical explorations. I didn't need to know Cecil Rhodes was "half-educated, half-genius, half-maniac, and all English" to know he was the British god of imperialism. Just saying.

But onto the topic at hand. Summer homework also mean I've recently waded through some classics, namely DEATH IN VENICE and MADAME BOVARY.

One sentence summary time, just in case:

DEATH IN VENICE by Thomas Mann -- An aging, famous, yet unattractive author goes to Venice to find inspiration and instead discovers his pedophilia and stalker tendencies with a beautiful, god-like, yet sickly young Polish boy. (The translation I read.)

MADAME BOVARY by Gustave Flaubert -- Throughout her life of infidelity and frivolousness, Emma Bovary continually strives for and fails to realize her romantic ideals, which ultimately leads to her corruption and her appalling corruption of others. (The translation I read.)

I can appreciate MADAME BOVARY for Flaubert's clever references, as in both allusions and repeated symbols and events within the story, and unique characterization, even though I wasn't at all impressed until Madame Bovary starts her little trysts. But DEATH IN VENICE... I'm still left with the feeling of WHY, OH WHY IS THIS BOOK A CLASSIC. I'm not adverse to pedophilia in literature, but the endless Greek allusions and descriptions almost bored me to tears. DEATH IN VENICE's underlying themes might be profound but the layers and layers of obsession and depression just weren't for me.

(If you're interested in all things pedophilia, I've heard that the plot is comparable to LOLITA by Vladimir Nabokov, though I can't personally attest to that since I haven't read LOLITA.)

my last impression of DIV: old man suntanning // source

Have you ever questioned why a "classic" is a classic? If so, which one(s)?