In a review of The Gutenberg Elegies, Amazon3131 writes:
Were any of the rest of you forced to attempt Chaucer’s Tales in the transliterated, but still semi-original Middle English? Did you find it difficult? The literary difference between Chaucer and 1900 is approximately the same difference between 1800 and now.
For example, have any of you slaughtered an animal for meat, or even watched someone else do it? Have any of you used an outhouse every day of every year because there wasn’t an alternative? Have you lived in a culture wherein a woman taking a walk at night, or traveling unaccompanied, was assumed to be having illicit sex? All of that was once normal. It’s not anymore. Our books have changed along with our culture.
And just as I struggled through Chaucer, Sven Birkerts says that younger students are struggling through older classics like The Scarlet Letter, not because the Internet has made us stupid, but because our notions of acceptable sexual behavior and gender roles and family roles and all of the other things that make up “normal” have changed so dramatically that the situations and character responses no longer seem plausible to the modern ear.