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Classics are classical works, authors , topoi or products.

"Classic" in the general linguistic sense is something that combines typical features in a generally accepted pure form and is therefore considered to be perfectly shaped and harmonious. The classic thus forms the timeless counterpoint to time-dependent fashion . Example: the classic "Greek" nose or the "classic" 100 m race track. Colloquially, it is now often a synonym for typical (e.g. "making the classic beginner's mistake").

Features of a classic

The following can be regarded as typical characteristics of a classic, although it must be pointed out that not all characteristics have to apply to make a work a classic:

  • Long national awareness (often also across generations)
  • Certain traditional value
  • High recognition value
  • High quality is granted
  • Innovation potential, novelty
  • Influence on culture
  • Timelessness of the topics, in fiction for example love, hate & anger, family, adventure, resistance & adaptation


The word originally comes from the first class citizens (classis) in ancient Rome , where a wealthy citizen was referred to as classicus . Since the 2nd century the word has been used figuratively for excellent writers (first with Aulus Gellius ).


In the cultural-historical sense, classics are works u. a. the music , the painting , the art of film u. s. f. of paramount, generally recognized importance. Examples:

Classic in literature

In a narrower sense, the ancient Greek or Latin writers , whose works are still important today, are called classics. In literary history , “German classics” refer to the poets of the heyday of German literature at the time of Goethe , Schiller and Hölderlin , in the narrower sense as “ Weimar classicsWieland , Herder , Goethe and Schiller.

Artists and their works belonging to the generally recognized literary or art canon of recent or present times are referred to as “ classics of modernity ” . In German literature there are the novels Der Process , Das Schloss , Buddenbrooks , Der Zauberberg , Berlin Alexanderplatz or The Man without Qualities , among the poems the Rilkes , Benns or Brechts . Also James Joyce Ulysses , Louis-Ferdinand Céline Journey to the End of the Night , William Faulkner Schall und Wahn or Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita . To the presence of classic novels are Homo Faber and The Tin Drum counted, plays such as The visit of the old lady and the physicists , as well as the poetry of Paul Celan and Ingeborg Bachmann .

In addition, works formed in the genre literature that have achieved greater awareness and within individual genres became models for subsequent novels. In crime fiction, there are novels like The Hound of Baskerville or The Talented Mr. Ripley . Children's book classics, according to Pippi Longstocking , Emil and the detectives or Struwwelpeter . While classics of high literature have to meet stylistic characteristics, e.g. B. the consistent adherence to the inner monologue in Arthur Schnitzler's novella Leutnant Gustl , which ultimately justifies its status, in genre literature the familiarity and above all the formulaic character of the work suffice.

Classics in art and music

In the fine and applied arts as well as in architecture , so-called Classical Modernism includes artists and works from the interwar period . The best-known example is the Bauhaus art, design and architecture school .

The “classical” composers Joseph Haydn , Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart , Ludwig van Beethoven and others who worked in Vienna between approx. 1781 and 1827 are considered in the history of music as Viennese classics . a. to call.

The classics of popular music such as jazz , swing , rock or pop are, for example, In the Mood by Glenn Miller , Satisfaction by The Rolling Stones , Imagine by John Lennon or Billie Jean by Michael Jackson .


Classics of philosophy are z. B. Plato's Dialogues or Immanuel Kant's Critique of Pure Reason .

Social sciences

In sociology are such a classic. B. Karl Marx ( Capital ) , Émile Durkheim (De la division du travail social) , Vilfredo Pareto (Trattato di sociologia generale) , Max Weber ( The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism ) or Ferdinand Tonnies ( Community and Society ) to call.

In economics , authors of classical economics such as Adam Smith and Joseph Schumpeter are named as classics.

In business administration , works such as Administrative Behavior ( Herbert A. Simon ), Toyota Production System ( Taiichi Ohno ) and The Practice of Management ( Peter Drucker ) are classics.

Forest science

Within forest science , a number of important personalities who, as encyclopedists at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th century, made decisive contributions to the development and establishment of this scientific discipline are referred to as "forest classics". These are Georg Ludwig Hartig , Heinrich Cotta , Friedrich Wilhelm Leopold Pfeil , Johann Christian Hundeshagen , Carl Justus Heyer and Gottlob König . They were able to grasp and influence the entire forest knowledge of their time.

Industrial products

Derived from the aforementioned use, often also for industrial products that have distinguished themselves through avant-garde design and are (in part) still produced today. Examples:

Classic in sports

In sports coverage, special events that became famous because of their outstanding position, examples:

See also


Dr. Björn Stüwe: product classics . Quintessences of consumer culture. Ed .: Sigfried Vögele Institute. Gabler Verlag, 2009, ISBN 978-3-8349-0919-0 , pp. 193 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Classics  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. a b cf. Christian Brabänder, Maximilian Lukesch: A plea for the classics: A food for thought on the importance of classical contributions in business administration. In: The business economist - management in science and practice. Vol. 57, 2017, pp. 22–26.
  2. Paul-Ludwig Weinacht : Topicality of classics of political thought. In: Würzburger medical history reports 24, 2005, pp. 474–496, here: pp. 478 f.
  3. cf. z. B. Karl Hasel , Ekkehard Schwartz : Forest history. A floor plan for study and practice . Kessel, Remagen 2002, ISBN 3-935638-26-4 , p. 333ff.