Barth decries those readers, “the lobotomized masses,” who cling to “middle class realism.” His impulse is nothing new; Mircea Eliade, writing of the reader of Finnegan’s Wake and other challenging modernist classics, recognizes that the central precept of the literary elitist, writer or reader, is revulsion for the bulk of humanity. The true appeal of difficult works, she states, is that they represent “closed worlds, hermetic universes that cannot be entered except through overcoming immense difficulties like the initiatory ordeals of the archaic or traditional societies.” The ultimate aim is “to proclaim to the ‘others’ (i.e. the ‘mass’) that one belongs to a select minority,” the latter opposed to “both official values and the traditional churches.”1 But if the impulse is nothing new, shifts in the status of both novel and novelist over recent decades have widened the divisions.