In the past, culture was a kind of vital consciousness that constantly rejuvenated and revivified everyday reality. Now it is largely a mechanism of distraction and entertainment. Notes on the Death of Culture is an examination and indictment of this transformation—penned by Mario Vargas Llosa, who is not only one of our finest novelists but one of the keenest social critics at work today.
Taking his cues from T. S. Eliot—whose essay “Notes Toward a Definition of Culture” is a touchstone precisely because the culture Eliot aimed to describe has since vanished—Vargas Llosa traces a decline whose ill effects have only just begun to be felt. He mourns, in particular, the figure of the intellectual: for most of the twentieth century, men and women of letters drove political, aesthetic, and moral conversations; today they have all but disappeared from public debate. A necessary gadfly, the Nobel laureate Vargas Llosa provides a tough but essential critique of our time and culture.
“Making Waves is fascinating . . . [It] is a diverse and representative volume that allows us, for the first time, to trace this enigmatic, often brilliant writer's . . . intellectual journey.”—Jay Parini, The New York Times Book Review on Making Waves
“Notes on the Death of Culture is a provocative essay collection on the fast decline of intellectual life, and one that manages the dual feat of shedding light while spreading gloom . . . And yet towards the end of these intelligent, penetrative, rigorous, but sporadically mournful essays we can detect a glimmer of hope.”—Malcolm Forbes, The New Criterion
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