By Mario Vargas Llosa
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 transformationâ€•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. Eliotâ€•whose essay “Notes Toward a Definition of Culture” is a touchstone precisely because the culture Eliot aimed to describe has since vanishedâ€•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.