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The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age
The Gutenberg Elegies The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age Author:Sven Birkerts In this engaging, cautionary look at the impact of modern technology on literary tradition, critic Birkerts warns that the information superhighway poses dire challenges to the vitality of literary criticism. In 15 original essays on the art of reading and the rise of electronic communication, he contends that emerging information technologies, ... more »such as the Internet and interactive TV, will result in the erosion of language, a diminishing interest in sustained critical thought and a negligence of the traditional humanities. He explores the pleasures offered by the traditional printed page and debunks the hype surrounding new products like multimedia, audiobooks and hypertext. Birckerts writes lapidary sentences, yet his argument is idiosyncratic, often digressing from larger questions about technology's effect on the reader to personal anecdotes, lists of books he admires and difficult aesthetic ideas. In the debate over the fate of book-publishing in the information age, he offers a useful jeremiad for what he sees as a vanishing literary culture; yet his study's appeal will rest mainly with literary critics. Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.« less
The chapters about reading text in print are the best I've ever seen about the process of reading: how does reading as kids affect us, as teenagers? whether we live in an age of vertical reading (one book many times) or horizontal reading (many books, few re-read). The later chapters about the effect of the Internet on reading are less valuable.