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

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Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Nov 14, 2006 - Literary Criticism - 251 pages
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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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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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