I think we have done ourselves a disservice by losing the mystery of literature. At least I don’t see news reports about books that have had an enormous impact.
I see the odd headline of a reviewer championing a new title. However, it never registers with me that there is some new movement in literature that has begun. Or that there is a book that will essentially command all of literature.
In addition, the ease of presenting a book (and regardless of commercial success, becoming a professional writer regardless of success) makes it possible for a lot of writers to do so.
There was a time, almost like an epoch, when talented, gifted writers penned insightful and wise works. It just… ended. There must be many reasons why.
Film adaptations may have helped kill the most brilliant era in literary history. Film adaptations of novels are often so well-done that audiences may be enticed to watch them rather than follow through and read the original novel.
The appetite for lower-brow interests, as well, is much stronger than that for intellectual interests, and that has a damaging effect on the book market overall. I think of Stephen King. I have read many of King’s novels and stories, and I know he’s a talented writer, and many people champion him as being among the finest, although even something that has many high points to it, like The Shining kind of is almost on par with a writer of the past like Edgar Allan Poe, or maybe Misery that has sort of, I’m not a critic, postmodernist themes to it, or The Dark Tower (the seven books of his fantasy opus) that are so meta they actually include the character of Stephen King, I understand, in books by Stephen King, but I am not sure he is any match in light of the most notable writers of the past.
I knew a lit grad who I said to that King killed literature. My friend said he wasn’t any different than Charles Dickens. Several years ago, my friend worked in clothing retail as a lit major.
Maybe I would have enjoyed seeing the times when we had Earth-Shattering Writers. It isn’t that hard to imagine, though–you can watch a movie about it.