E.L. Doctorow's Accepts the 2013 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters

Posted on November 26, 2013

E.L. Doctorow was awarded the 2013 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters at the National Book Awards on November 20, 2013. The ceremony and benefit dinner was held at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City. Here, Doctorow accepts his award. He gives a speech about the internet which he refers to "ubiquitous and loomingly present in everything we do."

Doctorow discusses how the Internet pervades all of our lives. He discusses the virtual world and notes that "Like all worlds, the virtual comes with its heaven and its hell."

Doctorow also discussed how language has been changed forever by the web. "Text is now a verb. More radically, a search engine is not an engine. A platform is not a platform. A bookmark is not a bookmark. An eBook is not a book. A cookie is not a chocolate cookie. A cloud may be in the sky, but it is not there to produce weather. Language has been stolen or metamorphosized. We in this room have to appreciate metaphor. When was the last time in hearing the word mouse that you thought of a small rodent or heard the word web and thought of a spider?"

Doctorow also warned about a report from Pen America about how authors are censoring what they say and write due to fears of surveillance and how important free speech is. Take a look:

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