The Battle of the Books
In the long history of the book, the mass-produced volumes of our time constitute only a single chapter. More remain to be written.
In 1704, Jonathan Swift imagined a literary contest for the ages, in the form of a “battle of the books” between the Ancients and the Moderns in the royal library at St. James, where the works of Aristotle, Virgil, and other classical giants were struggling to maintain their place on the shelves against a barbarous onslaught of new books, pamphlets, journals, and other literary ephemera. Almost 300 years before the first Web browser appeared, Swift seems to have anticipated the age of information overload.