The end of literature

Earlier this week we learnt that blue eyes are the sole indicator of intelligence. Enough of that frivolity. There’s much more serious news in Tuesday’s telegraph. I have deleted the appropriate word for sarcastic effect:

But another, sadder thought occurs to me. This attack on basic liberty, which was allowed through without any significant protest, might mark the end not merely of [removed], but of literature.

Oh crap. What have we missed? Did the government ban adverbs? No, literature could survive, melancholily, without adverbs. Verbs, then? Punctuation marks? Serifs? Line breaks?

The true answer is, of course, smoking. The ban on smoking in public places might mark the end of literature.

Well, that’s certainly a bold claim. Let us examine the evidence behind it:

I have been racking my brains to find a single non-smoker among the great English poets or novelists of the 17th, 18th, 19th or 20th centuries. Possibly, Keats had to lay off the pipe tobacco a bit after he developed tuberculosis.

Don’t think Jane Austen smoked. Not sure Ian McEwan does. Just saying. Otherwise, convincing case. The standard of newspaper columns has certainly already fallen.