Does anyone consider any modern novels as epic?
Or for that matter, how does one determine what is epic?
Epic novels will span the test of time. I think its still too early to see if Harry Potter, Hunger Games, or other highly acclaimed and often read works will make it to Epic Status.
That seems to agree with what a friend recently told me. That epic novels define an age. Think Margaret Mitchell, Tolstoy, Cervantes, Dostoevsky, and others.
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will be Epic! *crosses fingers*
LOL! shameless self-promotion I know. :P
I read somewhere that a novel of 500 pages and above is considered an epic length novel. However in my mind history would decide what novels are epic. Given the numbers of novels now being published thanks to electronic books and self publishing sites, I would have to say that savvy marketing and luck will factor into that as well.
I agree that effective marketing plays a role in the success of today's novels. However it seems that time and reader appreciation might play a larger role over the long term.
Well, to me Epic is as much a matter of scope as it is of plot. An epic story is one that affects a grand number of characters, and has an exciting and momentous story-line, kind of like the old greek epic poems.
Hunger Games, Harry Potter and all that are not epic at all to me. Even if they fit the letter of what I just described
The Malazan Book of the Fallen, Game of Thrones, and novels such as those, are.
A plot that includes a huge cast or spans many generations, whose themes are weighty or universal, and deeply felt, meets the Epic criteria for me. Something where the future of a world or a way of life or a larger-than-life ideal is at stake, that can make readers laugh, cry and gaze into the middle distance, yearning.
The characters in an Epic should be deftly drawn, intricately related and deeply imagined with an eye to context that goes beyond the needs of the story and says as much about the world and human nature as about the plot.
There should also be sweeping vistas - a sense of horizons and possibilities expanded beyond the boundaries of our ordinary daily lives - international or universal implications.
Your thought provoking response has given me a lot to consider. Do you think that time is a factor in seperating the epic from the non-epic? For example if the critics of Tolstoy regard him as epic for his time or did that come later?
I respectfully disagree with those who appear to be using "epic" as a synonym for "classic," as in, a book that stands the test of time.
I agree with those who suggest that the term "epic" is descriptive of a book's structural attributes rather than an evaluation of quality. Epics are lengthy, have many characters, tell stories of considerable scope, etc.
If a work can be defined as an epic based on its parameters regardless of the quality of the execution, it follows that there can be lousy epics. And come to think of it, I've read some.
Lol Brian Aldiss once wrote an epic in haiku :P
won't comment on its literary merits, but it was amusing!
I think there's a confusion here between the modern colloquial use of "Epic" and the literary definition of the term:
So yes, Tolstoy's literary contemporaries would have recognized the epic nature of his work, but they may or may not have recognized it as "impressively great", which is pretty much how it's used most often today.