Apr. 27, 2010

Sven Birkerts: “the Internet and the novel are opposites”

Sven Birkerts on reading in a digital age in which “the novel is the vital antidote to the mentality that the Internet promotes”:

We always hear arguments about how the original time-passing function of the triple-decker novel has been rendered obsolete by competing media. What we hear less is the idea that the novel serves and embodies a certain interior pace, and that this has been shouted down (but not eliminated) by the transformations of modern life.

The essay takes a while to find its feet, in part because Birkerts seems to be thinking through the problem as he writes, but also because the subject is so damn complicated — how do we read novels now, and why bother?

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