The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Culture

Sven Birkerts, Author Faber & Faber $22.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-571-19849-8
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, 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. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 11/28/1994
Release date: 12/01/1994
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 231 pages - 978-0-449-91009-2
Ebook - 256 pages - 978-1-4299-2394-1
Paperback - 251 pages - 978-0-86547-957-9
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