That’s how Alison Flood in the Guardian characterizes Philip Roth’s thoughts about the future of the novel. (The adjective is redundant, isn’t it? I mean, doesn’t “cult” — in that use of the term — imply “minority”? Also, Flood calls this Roth’s “prophesy” when she means “prophecy.” But enough picking of nits.)
Asked whether the Kindle and other e-readers might help the novel survive as a pastime with a few more adherents than Latin poetry, Roth replied, “The book can’t compete with the screen. It couldn’t compete [in the] beginning with the movie screen. It couldn’t compete with the television screen, and it can’t compete with the computer screen . . . Now we have all those screens, so against all those screens a book couldn’t measure up.”
But isn’t Roth confusing the future of the book — that is, the codex — and the future of the novel? He doesn’t seem to have noted that the interesting thing about e-readers is that they are screens with novels on on them.
And I might also ask this: if the book couldn’t compete with the movie screen or the television screen, how does he explain his own very successful and very lucrative career?
October 27, 2009