16 februar 2013

Philip Roth har (fortsatt) ikke så stor tro på litteraturens fremtid.

A serious reader of fiction is an adult who reads, let's say, two or more hours a night, three or four nights a week, and by the end of two or three weeks he has read the book. A serious reader is not someone who reads for half an hour at a time and then picks the book up again on the beach a week later. While reading, serious readers aren't distracted by anything else. They put the kids to bed, and then they read. They don't watch TV intermittently or stop off and on to shop on-line or to talk on the phone. There is, indisputably, a rapidly diminishing number of serious readers, certainly in America. Of course, the cause is something more than just the multitudinous distractions of contemporary life. One must acknowledge the triumph the screen. Reading, whether serious or frivolous, doesn't stand a chance against the screen: first, the movie screen, then the television screen, now the proliferating computer screen, one in your pocket, one on your desk, one in your hand, and soon one imbedded between your eyes.

Why can't serious reading compete? Because the gratifications of the screen are far more immediate, graspable, gigantically gripping. Alas, the screen is not only fantastically useful, it's fun, and what beats fun? There was never a Golden Age of Serious Reading in America but I don't remember ever in my lifetime the situation being as sad for books – with all the steady focus and uninterrupted concentration they require – as it is today. And it will be worse tomorrow and even worse the day after. My prediction is that in thirty years, if not sooner, there will be just as many people reading serious fiction in America as now read Latin poetry. A percentage do. But the number of people who find in literature a highly desirable source of sustaining pleasure and mental stimulation is sadly diminished.

Fra dette intervjuet i Le Monde Diplomatique - verdt å lese i sin helhet.

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