Sure, Twilight may be all the rage, but most modern novels don't reach nearly that level of success, and for good reason: they're too weighty and dull, argues The Telegraph's Harry Mount. "There just aren't enough enjoyable ones around," Mount explains. "It's as if, to be taken seriously, you've got to be at least a bit boring." He's got a very interesting argument for why that's so:
Too much respect for the novel is part of the problem. In an age of literary festivals in every provincial town, and writing courses at every red-brick university, everyone is encouraged to be a writer, and writing is considered a sacred art. Well, if everyone writes, there'll be more bad novels. And if writing is thought sacred, they will become more boring.
All this, of course, leads him to a striking conclusion for those still caught up in the question of whether the Internet will hurt literature. Mount thinks that the Internet is a "threat to novels"—but just the bad and tedious ones. "The web should be a wake-up call to novelists - to try to be funnier, sadder or more interesting. ... A brilliant novelist would only be helped by the internet. If another Evelyn Waugh or F Scott Fitzgerald turned up tomorrow, they would be read by millions, online and on the page."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.