The book: John Lurz ’03 writes about the death of the book — in a book. He focuses on the work of Marcel Proust, James Joyce, and Virginia Woolf in his book titled The Death of the Book: Modernist Novels and the Time of Reading. Lurz explores how these authors draw attention to the fact that their work is presented in the form of books and how it affects the novels themselves.
Lurz shows how these novels intersect with the world of their readers and create a new conception of literary experience not accounted for by historicist or formalist accounts of the modern period. To give readers a deeper understanding of the way we read in modern times, Lurz unites topics usually treated separately, such as media, meditation, book history, and modern aesthetics, and he investigates a set of twentieth-century considerations of what it means that the texts we read are embodied in and mediated by the object of the book.
The author: Lurz studied English as an undergraduate at Princeton and is now an assistant professor of English at Tufts University.
Opening lines: “In the end this is a book about reading books. Indeed it is about the end of book reading — or, as my title proclaims, about what is so often and so lightly called its ‘death.’ It examines the ways that the experimental novels of Michael Proust, James Joyce, and Virginia Woolf imagine a particular relationship between an embodied readerly subject and the physical object of the book.”
Reviews: Dana Seitler, from the University of Toronto says, “In The Death of the Book, Lurz demonstrates serious intellectual agility, moving between his objects of study with complexity and aplomb… In this account of modernism, readers are treated to a delightful set of close readings of key modernist texts that want to take the book-as-object seriously.”