Perhaps in the end it's just ridiculous, the high opinion we have of books, of literature. Perhaps it's just a collective spell of self-regard, self-congratulations, the way the jurors of the literary prize are so dumb pleased with themselves when they invite their new hero to the podium. Do books, after all, change anything? for all their proverbial liberalism, do they make the world more liberal? Or have they offered the fig leaf that allows us to go on us we were, liberal in our reading and conservative and in our living. Perhaps art is more a part of the problem and the solution; we may be going to hell, but look how well we write about it, look at our paintings and operas and tragedies.
It is not, after all, but we have to worry about the survival of literature. There's never been so much of it. But maybe it's time that the beast carried a health warning.
Tim Parks, Where I'm reading from