Classic. Let us begin first with the matter of semantics. Classic: from the 17th century Latin classicus, meaning, “belonging to a class or division,” and later, “of the highest class.” Classic, as defined by the Apple dictionary, is “a work of art of recognized and established value”; classic as in a piece of literature whose origin are from over centuries ago, classic as in Moby Dick, classic as in Les Miserables, classic as is Tess D’Urbervilles.

Teenagers have an aversion to classic literature, and sadly some many non-teenagers have, too. It may or may not be because of the unorthodox use of words and sentences and punctuations that filled their many pages, may or may not have something to do with English class making classic novels a required reading, may or may not simply be because they did not grow up reading them.

To be fair, reading a classic book requires of its reader a demanding need of time and patience and commitment and research—unless the book is an annotated version, in which case the research had already been done for you and all you have to do is refer to them. The syntax is difficult to follow, the sentences so labyrinthine it does not take much for one to get lost in them. Another reason why the classics are not as appreciated, and one that is truly unfair, is because it is simply, in the minds of the young, “boring” and “tasteless” and “old.”


But they are labeled “classics” for a reason. They are the best of their class. Their values have been established and validated and recognized for centuries. From the classics sprang forth the books that we now have, from Jane Austen to Ernest Hemingway to Doris Lessing to Stephen King to J.K. Rowling. If there are the books people should be read­ing, they are the classics.

What Ruben Toledo did with the deluxe editions of Penguin Classics changes that notoriously flawed perspective so many people have come to associate with the word “clas­sic.” A Filipino fashion illustrator and artist, Toledo has created beautiful makeovers of the much-loved classics.

He has ren­dered the books’ designs with grotesque, cartoonish illustra­tions, with Toledo’s expertise in fashion illustration lending itself into the mix. The covers are stunningly beautiful and fresh and they still have that distinguishing quality each of the book has possessed for hundreds of years. Toledo com­pletely revamped the idea of classic literature with his fresh take on their covers.


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