From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
|"What is Classical is healthy; what is Romantic is sick." --Goethe.|
The word classic means something that is a perfect example of a particular style, something of lasting worth or with a timeless quality. The word can be an adjective (a classic car) or a noun (a classic of English literature). It denotes a particular quality in art, architecture, literature and other cultural artifacts. In commerce, products are named 'classic' to denote a long standing popular version or model, to distinguish it from a newer variety. Classic is used to describe many major, long-standing sporting events. Colloquially, an everyday occurrence (e.g. a joke or mishap) may be described as 'an absolute classic'.
"Classic" should not be confused with classical, which refers specifically to certain cultural styles, especially in music and architecture: styles generally taking inspiration from the Classical tradition, hence classicism.
Classic may refer to:
The classics are the literature of ancient Greece and Rome, known as classical antiquity. Classics (without the definite article) can refer to the study of the humanities: philosophy, literature, history and the arts, as distinct from technical subjects.
Books, films and music particularly may become a classic, where an equally well-known painting would more likely be called a masterpiece. A classic is often something old that is still popular. Some examples would be the book The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain, the 1946 film It's A Wonderful Life, and the song Heartbreak Hotel by Elvis Presley. Lists of classics are long and ranging, and would vary depending on personal opinion. Classic rock is a popular radio format, playing a repertoire of old but familiar recordings.
Contemporary works may be hailed as an instant classic but the criteria for classic status tends to include the test of time. A cult classic may be well known but is only properly appreciated by a minority.
Science and technology
A well known and reliable procedure, such as a demonstration of well-established scientific principle, may be described as classic: e.g. the cartesian diver experiment.
Manufacturers frequently describe their products as classic, to distinguish the original from a new variety, or to imply qualities in the product - although the Ford Consul Classic, a car manufactured 1961–1963, has the "classic" tag for no apparent reason. The iPod classic was simply called the iPod until the sixth generation, when classic was added to the name because other designs were also available - an example of a retronym. Coca-Cola Classic is the name used for the relaunch of Coca-Cola after the failure of the New Coke recipe change.
A classic can be something old that remains prized or valuable (but not an antique). Classic cars, for example, are recognized by various collectors' organisations such as the Classic Car Club of America, who regulate the qualifying attributes that constitute classic status.
- Collective unconscious
- Cultural significance
- High culture
- Popular culture
- Western canon