Greg Pettit's Reviews > Digital Barbarism: A Writer's Manifesto

Digital Barbarism by Mark Helprin
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's review
Jul 10, 2009

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bookshelves: non-fiction, library
Read in July, 2009

Mark Helprin is a novelist who wrote this screed in defense of copyright. His style is excessively erudite and pompous, with almost as many commas as nouns. Unfortunately, I agree with him. It would be so much easier to be turned off by his style and simply dismiss him as an ass.

In arguing for copyright, he branches into other more philosophic ideas like individualism versus collectivism. I found the book to be very interesting, but his voice was off-putting.

Apparently, this book originated from an Op-Ed article he wrote not long ago. It drew such a firestorm of criticism from people from all over the internet that he felt compelled to respond. Sadly, he comes across as a bit of a troll, except instead of responding to his detractors on the internet, he wrote a book about it (so that he can be verbose and get the last word in, I suppose). It amused and somewhat saddened me that an author would bother to quote and reply to some anonymous posters from the web.

In the end, I think the battle for copyright is an important one, and Helprin is literate, intelligent, and stubborn enough to keep up the good fight. I'm just glad I don't have to be in the same room with him while he's doing it.
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