Friday, April 2, 2010

Is literature relevant?

New York Times best selling author David Shields' latest novel attempts to deliver a message to authors and readers alike: In order for literature to progress into the 21st century, it is necessary to rethink traditional forms, genres and styles by essentially blurring the line between fiction and nonfiction.

"In the highly simulated society that we live in, we have an insatiable hunger for reality, and that's not being met in these old and desiccated forms of literature," Shields said. "As creative artists trying to stay alive in this century, the answer isn't to retreat into a 19th century form of writing, but rather to strive to adapt and progress."

In order for that progression to occur, Shields suggests re-examining current ideas of plagiarism, citation and appropriation.

"If art is going to stay alive in the 21st century, artists have to have the freedoms they've had for centuries," he said. "The history of art has to do with artists endlessly remaking others' works to achieve greater levels of discovery and meaning," he said.

Artists of all forms — from composers to authors — have been reworking the ideas and works of those that have come before them, Shields said.

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