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Talent and technology

Will virtual reality spell the end of the literary imagination? George Steiner argues that new technologies will destroy the point of the novel-its permanence. This is no tragedy. Talent has already been draining away into other media or into science. Genres rise and genres fall

By George Steiner   May 1996

I imagine many of you will already have seen it, so I apologise. The current issue of that key journal of comparative papyrology of the Romanian Academy has an enormously interesting fragment, recently deciphered. It appears to be a conversation from 5th century BC Corinth about the first public readings of the Iliad and the Odyssey. It is quite clear from the conversation that these are judged to have no future whatsoever. The issue is whether to waste expensive sheep skin-and a great many sheep-on transcription when the story is so manifestly too long, too repetitive, full of endless formulas,…

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