The Enemies of Promise

If, as is very often suggested in book-trade journals, our own literary world is in the middle of a revolution – the revolution of the online bargain bin and the Amazon reviewer, the falling income and the squeeze on arts journalism – then it is worth asking exactly on whose behalf this insurrection is being carried out.

But whether he, or she, teaches at a university, works for an advertising agency, or juggles various kinds of increasingly badly paid journalism, the contemporary writer is fated to discover that most of the conditions that attend his or her professional life – from the modes of modern publishing to the vengeful ghosts of the technological machine – are enemies of promise. As for their cumulative effect, this can only be to inhibit the writer’s ability to say the things that people do not wish to hear – which might be defined as one of the main functions of literature, in this or any other age.

From the Guardian.


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