From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
"The intellectuals could not, of course, actually prevent the masses from attaining literacy. But they could prevent them reading literature by making it too difficult for them to understand—and this is what they did. The early twentieth century saw a determined effort, on the part of the European intelligentsia, to exclude the masses from culture. In England this movement has become known as modernism. --John Carey, The Intellectuals and the Masses, p. 16-17
A text can be considered unreadable for a number of reasons. The vocabulary may be too difficult, see simple English. The frame of reference may be unfamiliar to the reader, which is the case in novels such as Foucault's Pendulum:
- "As readable as The Da Vinci Code was (and according to some critics, of hardly any literary value whatsoever), as unreadable is Foucault's Pendulum. Indeed, after the success of his The Name of the Rose, Eco stated that he endeavoured to make the first 50-60 pages of his novels as difficult as possible, creating an initiatory test for the reader, whereby few who had bought the book succeeded in actually reading the entire book."