Will Novels Be Read By A Minority ‘Cult’ in 25 Years?

Alison Flood writes in the Guardian:

Philip Roth’s late run of productivity has long been a source of wonder in the literary world, with his latest novel coming out this week less than a year after the last, and another already complete. But the 76-year-old’s own energy is not, according to him at any rate, any reflection of vibrant life in fiction itself. Roth has long been pessimistic about the survival of the novel in a gaudy, short-attention-span culture, but his latest prophesy is one of his bleakest yet, predicting that the form will dwindle to a “cultic” minority enthusiasm within 25 years.

The author believes that the concentration and focus required to read a novel is becoming less and less prevalent, as potential readers turn instead to computers or to television. “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,” Roth told Tina Brown, editor-in-chief of The Daily Beast.

He said it was “the print that’s the problem, it’s the book, the object itself”. “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,” he said.

More in the Guardian

7 Comments on "Will Novels Be Read By A Minority ‘Cult’ in 25 Years?"

  1. I doubt it, every time i go to barnes and noble it's packed,
    not to mention the world wide freak outs for every new harry potter or twilight tween romance book

  2. tonyviner | Nov 2, 2009 at 5:31 am |

    I own over a million books. I have only read half of them, though.

  3. HotJohnson | Nov 2, 2009 at 5:32 am |

    While I don't think it'll get to the point where it's as bad as the state of latin poetry, I see the point. What disturbs me is the thought of how many stories like “Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?” and “A Confederacy Of Dunces” will get thrown by the wayside in favor of mass market mediocrity like twilight.

    • Monkey's Uncle | Nov 2, 2009 at 8:29 pm |

      Hot Johnson: It's sad, but hey… Most people don't want their views to be pushed. In some ways I wish I wasn't born to push the envelope. It pushes back sometimes.

  4. cittagaze | Nov 2, 2009 at 7:16 am |

    lol Confederacy of Dunces…..this is probably the only place i've ever heard that book mentioned

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