Kindle and the Academy


I finally got mine.

It was interesting--getting it, I took a long time to open it, charge it, and figure out precisely how to care for it to assure that it would last for some time to come. Rumor has it that they are fragile--not the body, but the face, the electronic paper. So much thought was given as to how to preserve this space. And in the reengineering, it is to be hoped that Amazon gives a good deal of thought about how to better protect the valuable reading surface.

I am not Amazon's ideal Kindle owner. While I'm fascinated by the fact that I can buy at will, my real reason for owning a Kindle has to do with what I already own. I have a great many crumbling, valueless books mouldering away on shelves in my back rooms. The Kindle will allow me a permanent (as much as anything can be permanent) library of classic books.

The first books I loaded onto the Kindle came from Gutenberg--as will the majority--the Moncrieff translation of Swann's Way, To the Lighthouse and Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, The Ambassadors and Wings of the Dove by Henry James, Ulysses, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and Dubliners by James Joyce. That's because these books were either in my present reading list or on the radar for reading. I intend to add Dickens, H. Rider Haggard, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Austen, Fielding, Trollope, Thackery, and so on to my Kindle as time allows. (The preparation of the Docs to meet my specifications takes a little while.)

I also went to the point of getting the Mobipocket book converter as the Kindle will read unprotected PRCs generated by this program (which allows a more controlled conversion of HTML into a kindle-friendly format). Additionally, they can be read on a Palm as well. Such conversion allows me to control, to some extent the styling and division in the text to make a more readable e-book experience.

The Kindle will mean for me a new set of possibilities in reading and a new way to engage in dialog with the books I love. It may also help me focus on "only the best."

Which leads me to a point about the Swedish Academy which is noted as saying that American literature is hardly literature as it is too insular and protected from outside influence. I would say rather that since the academy and modern European post-structuralist theory, the majority of literature is no longer literature--instead being a series of precious experiments with words that will cease to resonate almost before they have finished being read or spoken. It is difficult to find a modern work that compares with Joyce or Hardy or Dickens or, most especially, James. We work hard to make what we read difficult, obscure, experimental, almost without purpose. Such literature will rightly die the death it has so willingly brought upon itself and what is worthy will continue forward despite book award committees and Academies.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on October 6, 2008 8:08 AM.

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