Saturday, December 10, 2011


Modern Students

Sven Birkerts, The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age (1994; rpt. New York: Fawcett Columbine, 1995), p. 19, describing his experience teaching Henry James' story Brooksmith to undergraduate students in 1992:
And what emerged was this: that they were not, with a few exceptions, readers—never had been; that they had always occupied themselves with music, TV, and videos; that they had difficulty slowing down enough to concentrate on prose of any density; that they had problems with what they thought of as archaic diction, with allusions, with vocabulary that seemed "pretentious"; that they were especially uncomfortable with indirect or interior passages, indeed with any deviations from straight plot; and that they were put off by an ironic tone, because it flaunted superiority and made them feel they were missing something. The list is partial.
Related post: The Night Closes In.

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