Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Something all English Teacher's should know and proclaim

LitLine: A Website for the Independent Literary Community

Quality literature is now at that point where it must be sustained by subsidy or it will become less and less available to present and future generations. Art lovers should understand that a collection of poems or a literary translation or an innovative novel is as different from a Hollywood biography or a new diet book or a best-selling novel as Bach is from U2. More generally, art lovers should recognize the difference between a commercial publisher driven by the market and a nonprofit publisher existing to serve a cultural function. While the first is self-supporting and may make large amounts of money, the second is devoted to literary art and requires subsidy to stay in business just like the art museum or the symphony orchestra or the ballet company or serious theater.

The publishing industry has always had economic and cultural agendas and a sense of its societal function generally at odds with those of serious authors. The result is that, despite some notable exceptions, the commercial publishing industry has for over 200 years privileged profit over art and has served literature well only when it could do so while making money.


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