Sunday, November 13, 2016

Sven Birkerts on the Novel

Frantisek Tavik Simon, Vilma reading on a Sofa, 1912
Frantisek Tavik Simon, Vilma reading on a Sofa, 1912
This idea of the novel is gaining on me: that it is not, except superficially, only a thing to be studied in English classes--that it is a field for thinking, a condensed time-world that is parallel (or adjacent) to ours. That its purpose is less to communicate themes or major recognitions and more to engage the mind, the sensibility, in a process that in its full realization bears upon our living as an ignition to inwardness, which has no larger end, which is the end itself. Enhancement. Deepening. Priming the engines of conjecture. In this way, and for this reason, the novel is the vital antidote to the mentality that the Internet promotes. (Sven Birkerts, "Reading in a Digital Age," in The Edge of the Precipice: Why Read Literature in the Digital Age? edited by Paul Socken, 2013, p. 32)

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