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Garth Hallberg/Why Write Novels at All?

January 20, 2012

Last spring I wrote about what seems to be the inevitable demise of the literary novel--at least as we know the novel to be now. The novel simply can't compete with where technology is taking the human race. This is a problem more with the written language than anything else; I envision a world where written communication is no longer necessary, and we're at the formative curvatures of that wave. In that past post, I come to some different conclusions about the role of the writer and reader in this "no written word" scenario, and so in my mind, the novel will follow technology and evolve into a new kind of artform.  It's not really ending; the novel will change into something that potentially lives more fully in our imaginations.

 

In a recent NY Times article, it seems forgone that the novel is on its way out of human culture. Garth Hallberg, the author of the article, questions how well the contemporary novel is telling us about the inner world of the people around us, and names this as one of the reasons why the novel is losing relevancy as a genre.  I don't see the loss of the novel as a negative, just as I don't see the loss of the written word as a negative. Rather I see the time of no written language as an era of less boundaries between human beings--a possible answer to the problems Hallberg raises.  In my view, the novel in this world without written language still has a place for authorship, though I think eventually technology will make authorship an ambiguous, if not meaningless, concept.

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