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

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9780865479579: The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age

A reissue of the book that first examined the future of reading and literature in the electronic age, now with a new introduction and Afterword

In our zeal to embrace the wonders of the electronic age, are we sacrificing our literary culture? Renowned critic Sven Birkerts believes the answer is an alarming yes. In The Gutenberg Elegies, he explores the impact of technology on the experience of reading. Drawing on his own passionate, lifelong love of books, Birkerts examines how literature intimately shapes and nourishes the inner life. What does it mean to "hear" a book on audiotape or decipher its words in electronic form on a laptop screen? Can the world created by Henry James exist in an era defined by the work of Bill Gates? Are books as we know them―volumes printed in ink on paper, with pages to be turned as the reading of each page is completed―dead?

At once a celebration of the complex pleasures of reading and a bold challenge to the information technologies of today and tomorrow, The Gutenberg Elegies is an essential volume for anyone who cares about the past and the future of books.

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Review:

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.

From the Inside Flap:

"[A] THOUGHTFUL AND HEARTFELT BOOK...A literary cri de coeur--a lament for literature and everything implicit in it."
--The Washington Post
In our zeal to embrace the wonders of the electronic age, are we sacrificing our literary culture? Renowned critic Sven Birkerts believes the answer is an alarming yes. In The Gutenberg Elegies, he explores the impact of technology on the experience of reading. Drawing on his own passionate, lifelong love of books, Birkerts examines how literature intimately shapes and nourishes the inner life. What does it mean to "hear" a book on audiotape, decipher its words on a screen, or interact with it on CD-ROM? Are books as we know them dead?
At once a celebration of the complex pleasures of reading and a boldly original challenge to the new information technologies, The Gutenberg Elegies is an essential volume for anyone who cares about the past and future of books.
"[A] wise and humane book....He is telling us, in short, nothing less than what reading means and why it matters."
--The Boston Sunday Globe
"Warmly elegiac...A candid and engaging autobiographical account sketches his own almost obsessive trajectory through avid childhood reading....This profoundly reflexive process is skillfully described."
--The New York Times Book Review
"Provocative...Compelling...Powerfully conveys why reading matters, why it is both a delight and a necessity."
--The Harvard Review

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