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

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Macmillan, Nov 14, 2006 - Literary Criticism - 251 pages
28 Reviews
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: The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age

User Review  - Megan - Goodreads

It's hard to believe this book was written almost a decade ago, the insights into technology and entertainment are still so fresh. Except he uses the phrase "electronic media" instead of the common ... Read full review

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

User Review  - Scott Johnson - Goodreads

I was absorbed in this book from beginning to end. Birkerts reflects deeply on the way electronic media influence (for ill) our habits of reading. He's concerned about literature, but all he says applies to the reading of Scripture and theology as well. Very persuasive. Read full review

Contents

Introduction to the 2006 Edition
xi
The Reading Wars
3
The Reading Self
9
MahVuhHuhPuh
11
The Paper Chase An Autobiographical Fragment
33
The Owl Has Flown
70
The Woman in the Garden
77
Paging the Self Privacies of Reading
87
Perseus Unbound
134
Close Listening
141
Hypertext Of Mouse and Man
151
Critical Mass Three Meditations
165
The Western Gulf
167
The Death of Literature
183
The Narrowing Ledge
198
The Faustian Pact
210

The Shadow Life of Reading
95
From the Window of a Train
109
The Electronic Millennium
115
Into the Electronic Millennium
117
Afterword to the 2006 Edition
231
Cited Material
251
Copyright

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About the author (2006)

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.

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