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A Summary of “Hidden Within Technology’s Empire, a Republic of Letters”

The essay “Hidden Within Technology’s Empire, a Republic ofLetters” by Saul Bellow appears in Writers on Writing: Collected Essays from New York Times, published in 2002. The essay asserts that technology hasbecome prevalent in our world and that the novel is slowly dying out, becoming replaced by movies and other media. The author was introduced to this truth asearly as the 1930’s, when a neighbor of his, whose occupation was to be a writer, let him know that most people did not consider writing to be a realjob. According to Bellow, some authors, such as Oswald Spengler and Terry Teachout, confirmed the belief that the love for the novel is dying and promotedthe notion that young people should avoid literature and concentrate on the technological advancement of this century. Bellow believes that Teachoutaccurately predicts that movies will quickly replace novels as the principal means of storytelling. According to Teachout, the evidence is overwhelming: theviewers of a single episode of a television show outnumber the number of copies of a book by a popular author sold by 42 to 1. However, it is Bellow’sopinion that there are still many readers out there, whose passion for the novel has not yet disappeared. To support this, Bellow and a friend of hisstarted a magazine, The Republic of Letters, which aims to unite readers and writers and to remind people of the beauty and importance of the written word.
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