“They cannot read ‘Middlemarch.’ They cannot read William James or Henry James,” Wolf said. “I can’t tell you how many people have written to me about this phenomenon. The students no longer will or are perhaps incapable of dealing with the convoluted syntax and construction of George Eliot and Henry James.”
Simply not true. I’ve been reading more and more with a Kindle, and I spend 8 hours a day reading articles online and writing emails at my job. While I absolutely, 100% prefer real books with real paper, reading on a Kindle has mostly been an enjoyable experience, and my tech habits certainly have not been detrimental to my reading habits. I just read a slew of Henry James’ novels, in addition to two of Trollope’s, on a Kindle. Didn’t notice any change at all in my comprehension. But let’s be real, most people in America couldn’t get through a print version of Trollope, and I think that problem predates the Big Bad Internet That’s Ruining Everything.
If you’re trained as a reader (and as a writer), you’ll stay a reader, no matter how often you’re on twitter. To say “students are having trouble reading the classics” and then blaming it on our tech habits is way too vague. Don’t blame it on millennials, blame it on our inability to teach them how to read properly.