The Gutenberg Elegies
Sven Birkerts. The Gutenberg Elegies. New York: faber & faber, 2006 (1994).
Dean Blobaum’s review cogently summarizes many of the problems with Birkerts’ book, most notably:
Birkerts’s musings on reading were quite different; they were apparently the product of intense introspection, vibrant with experience and reflection. He got at what he wanted to get at – the act reading. When he turns to electronic media however, he mostly turns away from the act of engagement with these media. Birkerts’s take on electronic media follows a well-trodden path – a rehash of media theory and broad generalizations about the effects of electronic media, making it the whipping boy for the ills of western society – the decline in education, literacy, and literate culture; the financial straits of publishers; postmodernism in the arts; and the fight over the canon in literature. His thoughts on electronic media lack focus and originality.