Having finished looking at chap.5 of Leland Ryken’s recent book (A Christian Guide to the Classics; Crossway, 2015), “How Not to Read a Classic,” we can go on to chap.6, where he gets at the positive side of the matter, “How to Read a Classic.”
In this sixth chapter Ryken explains the positive way also under six (6) headings:
- Good Practice #1: Read a classic with respect for the momentousness of what you are doing.
- Good Practice #2: Understand the nature of the reading situation.
- Good Practice #3: Apply what you know about literature generally.
- Good Practice #4: Maintain a keen eye for the obvious.
- Good Practice #5: Be aware that the classics did not escape the effects of the fall.
- Good Practice #6: Be yourself as a Christian reader.
Before looking at some of these points more closely, let’s hear what the author has to say in the “chapter summary” at the end:
As Christian readers of the classics, we need to exercise balance. We need to expect the best of classics (especially in their formal excellence and the writer’s skill in presenting life accurately), but we also need to be critical readers who assess the morality and truth claims of an author. We need to relish the simple appeal of a classic, while also being analytic in our attention to details and our assessment of a work’s viewpoint. We need to value both the form and content of a classic (pp.60-61).