Philip Roth


There is nothing new under the sun.

This Philip Roth interview got me thinking this week. Here he was, a fellow doomsday herald, older, wiser, sure about the eminent irrelevance of his craft.

Novels, he says, are too long, too demanding for the average tweeter consumer.

“I was being optimistic about 25 years really. I think it’s going to be cultic. I think always people will be reading them but it will be a small group of people. Maybe more people than now read Latin poetry, but somewhere in that range(…) To read a novel requires a certain amount of concentration, focus, devotion to the reading. If you read a novel in more than two weeks you don’t read the novel really. So I think that kind of concentration and focus and attentiveness is hard to come by — it’s hard to find huge numbers of people, large numbers of people, significant numbers of people, who have those qualities”

As I wrote this six church bells in the background merged seamlessly with Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto #2 in C Minor coming out of my computer’s speakers. An accumulation of technologies and art forms, rather than a substitution.


Cultural vehicles are in a permanent competition for our attention, morphing themselves into something slightly different with each turn of the wheels to become more attractive, easier, viral.

Books take up a great deal of space and are heavy. An e-book reader is thin and light and can fit thousands of titles. Wikipedia reads like a never ending biography of the world. The novel is not disappearing; it’s shedding its old skin to fit into a new one. If the medium is good it will survive.


Nostalgia is anyway part of the future.



You get to keep your books. And read my blog.



  1. In nomine Pater

    What about the piano? Is it going to disappear as well? Heavy, cumbersome, old fashioned, and yet, nothing electrical sounds exactly like it. A sentence that is read on paper somehow has a different “feel”, than when it is read on an i-pad. It adds something, perhaps the fact that it can not be erased by a click on the delete command. For that reason it seems more thoughtful, just as a letter differs from an e-mail message. It was made to last. Yes, you can write on a computer, but the obituary of your thoughts has to be engraved in wood.

  2. DLA

    “Ich glaube an das Pferd. Das Automobil ist nur eine vorübergehende Erscheinung.”
    Kaiser Wilhelm II

    “I believe in the horse. The automobile is just a temporary phenomenon.”
    Kaiser Wilhelm II

    The dangers of prophecy…
    None of it will disappear. The future is an accumulation of media, sorted in order of popularity. Let’s see what resists.

    Even if you spent your whole life in front of a computer, the obituary of your body is engraved in stone, as were the first words that were ever written.

    Hope to read your comments more often.

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