Is it impossible for serious writers to emerge in our corporatized publishing world, which favors novels-by-number and bite-sized histories that readers can chuck when the plane ride is over? By giving the public what it supposedly wants, has the modern-day publisher jettisoned literature, abandoning a commitment to transcendent works in favor of celebrity memoirs, celebrity novels and celebrity children’s books, most of them ghost-written in the first place? And given the needs of these corporations, whose often-foreign overseers demand high returns-on-investment to pay off loans, has the the editor been superseded by the marketing manager and the publicist, desperate to place an author on “Oprah” or “The Today Show” to ensure a book’s mass success?

Robert Weil, six years ago, questioning if we are indeed enmeshed in different circumstances than those characterized by the damned mob of scribblers that Hawthorne complained about in the 1850’s: WP.