The Class by Erich Segal – book review

A bright and exciting saga of the famous American writer Erich Segal about the fate of five Harvard graduates in 1958. Their story begins on the first day of school, when the characters are young and full of hope, and ends after twenty-five years at the traditional gathering of graduates, where everyone sums up their eventful lives. They had the greatest success, but they also knew the bitterness of defeat. There were women in their lives whom they loved and who loved them. For some, family life brought only disappointments, while others experienced true family happiness. And Harvard always stayed with them…

Erich Segal is the” knight of the sad image “in American literature, who has not heard of his “Love Story“? As a student, I cried over her more than once. The film based on the book, however, turned out to be so-so, but the great music is admirable, especially my favorite “The Long Walk Home”.For 45 years, millions of lovers around the world have been dreaming about the enchanting sounds of this melody.… But today I would like to dwell in more detail on the final novel of this author – “Classmates”.

Eight US presidents, forty-nine Nobel Prize winners, David Rockefeller, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg-can you guess what connects all these people? All of them are graduates of one of the most famous universities in the United States and around the world, Harvard. Of course, success doesn’t come to every graduate, and no one has written about it better than Erich Segal.

To understand what this novel is about, you do not need to be a genius or a Harvard graduate, as the author himself and as the characters of the book, but it is more than desirable to read at least briefly the biography of Segal himself before or after reading it. You will have a pleasant time reading, but with this knowledge, you will understand why a highly educated Harvard graduate, a professor, spends his precious (in the literal sense of the word)time to write fiction. After all, he does not just write, what he knows firsthand, he writes about himself.

The characters of the novel are connected, first of all, by the fact that they are all graduates of Harvard in 1958, and also, in each of them, there is something from the author himself. For example, the immaculate description of lectures and discussions on the subject of antiquity in the book led me to believe that the author is an expert in this field, as it turned out, he is a specialist in ancient literature. In the book, this is Ted Lambros, a teacher and Harvard graduate, like Erich himself. But this character is of Greek origin, and the author himself was born in the family of a rabbi, that is, he had Jewish roots. But the novel reflects this fact, the handsome and daredevil Jason Gilbert, whose parents are from the holy land. This hero, moreover, is endowed by the author with many excellent qualities, which, in my deep conviction, he would like to possess himself. The character of Dr. Segal is most accurately reflected in one of the representatives of the aristocracy in the novel – Andrew Eliot, and unfulfilled ambitions in the political field – in George Keller, Assistant Secretary of State. As you can see, there are quite a lot of autobiographical elements and it is unlikely that this is an accident.

In addition to the autobiographical value, in my opinion, this book touches on many topical topics about humanity, friendship, youth problems, midlife crisis, national identity, and, of course, love for their Alma Mater, which some carry through their entire lives, sometimes admitting to themselves that these were the best years of their lives.