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Sunday, January 03, 2016

Has television and film taken the place of literature?

I confess that I have not read War and Peace. Nor have I ever had any desire to do so. I am though looking forward to the TV adaptation of it tonight and may, as a result search out the novel and read it.

I have never read any Harry Potter either. In this case I have had no inclination to search out the books because I fear that they might sour my appreciation of the films.

The Telegraph (and other papers) seem to think that it is a big deal that members of the cast of tonight's production of War and Peace have never read the book. They say that this is a sad reflection of the narrow cultural background of today's young actors.

It is though also a reflection of the changing nature of our society. We live in a multi-media world in which great works of literature can now be accessed in other ways, whether it is through television, video, on-line streaming, film or even computer games.

Our attention span has diminished so that many of us can no longer spend the time, or even bear to commit the time to read books. Fewer people go to the theatre to see serious drama. People want to be entertained and our idea of what is entertainment has changed markedly from when Tolstoy was committing his thoughts to 1,200 closely typed pages.

But that is why television adaptations are so important. It reintroduces us to these classics and encourages us to explore them for ourselves. 

I do not believe that television and film have replaced literature. They have enhanced it and made it relevant again. That can only be a good thing.
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