Tuesday 26 May 2015

Going Forward

This Future Library project - is it a good idea? An interesting idea? Maybe the latter, but it's a project that's bound to reflect literary fashion rather than quality, and to favour prolific authors who have plenty of stuff to (effectively) discard. Those contributing in the early years will never see their works printed, but the archive is being added to each year, so the later contributors will be alive and (more or less) currently fashionable. It might have been more interesting to make a time capsule of the whole thing by rounding up all the writings now - what would they look like in 100 years? At least they would be of historical interest. Imagine if a literary time capsule from 1915 were opened now - it would probably leave us largely baffled by the state of literary taste and fashion 100 years ago, and things might be rather worse if a 2015 capsule were opened in 2115... The Future Library project seems to be inspired by some notion that literature is forever looking backwards, when it should be looking forward. But surely literature - real literature - goes forward by looking backwards, not by projecting into some notional future. Also very, very few books last 100 years.

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