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The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age Paperback – November 14, 2006
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What hath the inexpensive personal computer, the portable cassette player, and the CD-ROM wrought? Are books as we know them dead? And does--or should--it matter if they are? Birkerts, a renowned critic, examines the practice of reading with an eye to what the future will bring. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
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.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
In his book Birkets book shows us what he means by reading. He interprets and provides a kind of autobiographical record of his own reading experience. This is in one sense the heart of the book, and perhaps experientially and for the reader it is preferable to the main idea of the book.
My own personal view and I speak as one who has loved and been emotionally and spiritually and intellectually helped by books all my life is that the new means of reading given by the Internet also gives new worlds of information, wider and easier access to many different kinds of reading material which once were more difficult to achieve. On the other hand I do feel that there is something ' right ' in Birkets claim that skipping around click by click from one interesting item on the Internet to another cannot really give what sitting alone and 'dialoguing' with a book can. I do feel that there is something ' deeper ' in the book world than in the ' screen world' - at least to this point.
Givcn too human physical structure I do not see at this point anyway any replacement to that kind of dialogue one can have with the book.
As to the replacement/ augmentation question I think each different category of book might be examined in relation to whether the transformation into an electronic form will make the book obsolescent.It seems to reference books, and certain kinds of popular entertainment might go better on screen. But a book like Birkets requiring thought and attention still has to come to us as a book.
This book raises a question that will be with us for some time to come. It is part of the larger question of what it means to be human and what it will mean to be human in generations ahead. This is a book well- worth reading and thinking about , as many Amazon readers apparently already have.