The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age
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In The Gutenberg Elegies, nationally renowned critic Sven Birkerts powerfully argues that we are living in a state of intellectual emergency - an emergency caused by our willingness to embrace new technologies at the expense of the printed word. As we rush to get "on line, " as we make the transition from book to screen, says Birkerts, we are turning against some of the core premises of humanism - indeed, we are putting the idea of individualism itself under threat. The printed page and the circuit driven information technologies are not kindred - for Birkerts they represent fundamentally opposed forces. In their inevitable confrontation our deepest values will be tested. Birkerts begins his exploration from the reader's perspective, first in several highly personal accounts of his own passion for the book, then in a suite of essays that examines what he calls "the ulterior life of reading." Against this, Birkerts sets out the contours of the transformed landscape. In his highly provocative essay "Into the Electronic Millenium" and in meditations on CD-ROM, hypertext, and audio books, he plumbs the impact of emerging technologies on the once stable reader-writer exchange. He follows these with a look at the changing climate of criticism and literary practice. He concludes with a blistering indictment of what he sees as our willingness to strike a Faustian pact with a seductive devil.
Farrar, Strauss & Giroux-3pl
November 14, 2006
5.5 X 8.2 X 0.8 inches | 0.55 pounds
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About the Author
Sven Birkerts is the author of five books of essays and a memoir. Briggs-Copeland Lecturer at Harvard and a member of the core faculty of the Bennington Writing Seminars, he also edits the journal Agni, based at Boston University. He lives in Arlington, Massachusetts.
"Birkerts on reading fiction is like M.F.K. Fisher on eating or Norman Maclean on fly casting. He makes you want to go do it." --The New Yorker