The hallmark of great literature is its ability to stand the test of time. In many instances literature that survives centuries or even millennia and is still pertinent to audiences last because of its universal themes, ideas, or appeals to the human heart. If we look at two works considered to be great literature - Franz Kafka's (1948) The Metamorphosis and Plato's (1956) Apology - it is readily apparent that these works are highly relevant to contemporary life in Atlanta Georgia because of their eternal themes and ideas.
In Franz Kafka's (1948) The Metamorphosis, Gregor Samsa "awoke one morning from uneasy dreams" and "found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect" (p. 67). An unhappy and unfulfilled traveling salesman, Gregor's condition worsens and he becomes hideous and repulsive even to his own mother and father. Even Gregor's beloved sister Grete ultimately turns on Gregor to spare her parents the pain his condition causes them. Though Gregor is disabled in a particularly repulsive manner, he remains the same loving person he was before his transformation. As we are told, "He thought of his family with tenderness and love" (Kafka, 1948, p. 127).
We see that Gregor's condition is highly applicable to contemporary life. We might view Gregor as someone afflicted with AIDS. When AIDS first occurred, those who suffered from its repulsive physical symptoms were often isolated and alienated much like Gregor. Fear and repulsion made even those loved ones closest to many AIDS patients reject them as surely as Gregor is rejected by his family. In this sense, we empathize with Gregor's vulnerability and see his family is more transformed than he is by his illness for they lose their humanity while he retains his.
In Plato's (1956) Apology we see that the ideas addressed in the dialogue are as relevant to contemporary life in Atlanta, Georgia, as they were in Socrates' time...