What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of MarketsBy Michael J. Sandel (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 244 pp., $27) For over thirty years, Harvard undergraduates have packed Sanders Theater for Michael Sandel’s course on justice. PBS has broadcast the lectures and more than three and a half million people have clicked to watch them on YouTube.
Writers write in order to be read. This is obvious. But the speed with which words, once written, are now being read—a speed shaped by technological innovations long before the Internet turned the quick turnaround into the virtually instantaneous turnaround—has set me to thinking about the extent to which writing, for the writer, ought to have a freestanding value, a value apart from the reader. There is too much talk about the literary marketplace, the cultural marketplace, and the marketplace of ideas.