The after-life of books : metaphors of reality
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The aim of this article is to discuss various works of literature which deal with the theme of books, looking at how books have taken on symbolic meaning in our culture over the last five centuries. The approach is selective as there are many more instances of literary works (or films) than those mentioned which include references to books or which are based in libraries or bookshops. However, the intention is to point readers to a fascinating tradition of meta-literary writing which identifies books in a rich variety of dramatic roles. In this tradition, books are personified and take on human attributes, while libraries become kingdoms or realms. The article poses the question about what meaning books will have in the future in the face of the technological revolution, the internet and electronic media. It argues that books still have a future. If the internet leads to higher levels of literacy, then there will perhaps be more demand for quality editions, while it will be paperbacks which will be easily replaced by electronic texts. Meanwhile, books will retain their symbolism, their usefulness and their aesthetic value. The article concludes by drawing together the various themes and assessing the ways in which books retain symbolic meaning in our culture.
Pearce, B. 2015. The after-life of books : metaphors of reality. English Academy Review Southern African Journal of English Studies. 32(1): 10-22.