Saturday, March 21, 2009

DFW: A Traditional Composer in the Twelve-Tone Era?

D. T. Max answers readers' questions about his piece on David Foster Wallace. As part of his response to a question about whether DFW's work will be studied in classrooms in the future, Max throws out this remarkable speculation: 

the vast shift of creative effort from paper to the Web may render the fact that some good novels were written during our time irrelevant. Wallace and others like him may be the equivalent of traditional classical composers in the twelve-tone era.

This seems extreme to me. Has there really been that vast a shift? Aren't books still being published at an incredible rate? Granted, a lot of great stuff is available on the web, but most of the best stuff is still tied to paper publications. And how much of the work that is online only is of comparable quality to stuff published in the traditional manner?

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