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Eric
15-Aug-2011, 12:39
The two references that Sevastafo gave in #92 and #93 make interesting reading, but I didn't spot whether they plump for a poet or novelist before creating a shortlist. This could be difficult as many people write poetry, prose, essays, and plays. For example, Milosz certainly did the first three.

I think that on the strength of recommendations, the committee looks at individuals, taking all their work into consideration, whatever the genre. But that is sheer guesswork on my part.

anchomal
15-Aug-2011, 13:00
This could be difficult as many people write poetry, prose, essays, and plays. For example, Milosz certainly did the first three.

You are right, of course, there are plenty who move between disciplines. Usually, though, they tend to be known primarily for one or the other. I am just curious to know if this is a consideration. If it is, we could imagine a shortlist of writers who work most notably in prose, a different shortlist for those known mainly for poetry, etc.

Rumpelstilzchen
15-Aug-2011, 13:22
I also have no information on this apart from what is written on the Nobel webpage, i.e. nothing at all, but Eric's guess sounds very reasonable, i.e. that they concentrate on individuals. It would be contraproductive and somehow arbitrary (how do you decide if an author is "mainly" a poet??) to constrain oneself to prose, poetry etc., therefore and also to maximize their freedom I cannot believe that they are doing anything like it. Also it would diminish the work of authors, who are at home in all of the disciplines, with respect to authors only writing poetry for example.

anchomal
15-Aug-2011, 14:14
I am not talking strictly in black and white. My point is that, while someone like, for example, Margaret Atwood, writes both poetry and prose, she is unlikely to win the Nobel Prize on the strength of her poetry. Or take Seamus Heaney, who has written his share of prose but his real strength as a writer lies in his poetry. I don't see why it would be difficult to decide that he is 'mainly' a poet, and this is almost certainly what the Nobel committee recognised.

Rumpelstilzchen
15-Aug-2011, 14:29
I am not talking strictly in black and white. My point is that, while someone like, for example, Margaret Atwood, writes both poetry and prose, she is unlikely to win the Nobel Prize on the strength of her poetry. Or take Seamus Heaney, who has written his share of prose but his real strength as a writer lies in his poetry. I don't see why it would be difficult to decide that he is 'mainly' a poet, and this is almost certainly what the Nobel committee recognised.

Well the problem is that there are writers, whose strenghts are equally distributed among all of the disciplines. Or to put it differently, whose strength is exactly their combination of different disciplines. It would be a bad idea to simply put them then into one of the pots. Take Brecht for example, for his contributions to drama alone he is very important, but what many people outside of German speaking countries do not know is that he was also a great poet.

Daniel del Real
15-Aug-2011, 20:23
I think Daniel's idea of the 5-book acquaintance with prospective Nobel laureates is a noble one (pun intended). But it will no doubt help this thread to dry up as not many of us will have read five books by the people who we've been speculating about.

Intuition does come into it, and even if you have only read one or two books, or several collections of poetry, you may already be convinced. I think the only one I've mentioned that I have read enough of by Daniel's criterion is Jaan Kaplinski, who could win it for his poetry. Although if he wins, as with Milosz, there would be a rush to publish his prose, as publishers assume that prose sells faster. When Milosz won in 1980, there were books of his essays and "The Issa Valley" published in no time at all here in Sweden in translation.

Well, the 5 book reference it's only a parameter, but of course it can be less. I agree with Apfelwurm that sometimes a single book can make us an admirer of an author. However this only should be the lift of the spirit we need to keep on searching for more of that writer's stuff and read it. It can be the case the author has only written one or two books and the rest doesn't stand as high as his good books. Sure it can be two, three, whatever books you like and make you feel he/she can be a serious contender based on quality.

anchomal
17-Aug-2011, 13:56
Nadas and Krasznahorkai have both been flagged here in recent weeks as serious Nobel contenders. I have read some Nadas and he is without doubt a major talent. I'll get to Krasznahorkai soon. But has anyone read any of Peter Esterhazy? I looked on amazon and his books seem very interesting. Is he a serious challenger? Or is it possible that these three might cancel one another out? (I know, I know, nationality has nothing to do with it etc. etc.)

Add Kertesz to the mix and the Hungarians are most definitely holding their own in literary terms...

Daniel del Real
17-Aug-2011, 22:46
What do you think of Arto Paasilinna as a serious contender for the Nobel. He is probably the best known Finnish writer worldwide and although most of his works haven't been translated he is a very profilic author. I appreciate his efforts to bring to the rest of the world a closer look of Finland, with very beautiful depictions of the woods and the country lands. Besides, his characters are always within an internal debate and multiple voices talking at one time and that makes them really interesting and complex at a time. So far I've only read two of his books (The Howling Miller and The Forest of the Hanged Foxes) and I'm about to start The Year of the Hare that many people here recommended.
A long time has passed by since Sillanpaa won it for Finland and with this writer, I think they should have possibilities.

Eric
18-Aug-2011, 00:28
I'm one of those people outside the German-speaking countries who knows that Brecht was a poet, because I had to retranslate a few of his poems for the postmodernist Estonian novel I was translating into English at the time. And I went to the German originals, looked at other people's translations into English, and then did my own, mainly to avoid the extra copyright problems of tracing the translators and publishers, not because the original translations were bad. Suhrkamp were very helpful in helping me find the original pooems which were guesswork, as all I had to go on was the Estonian translations by the author, who had died by then.

Most of the visibility of Hungarian writers in English translation seems to be thanks to the Brit George Szirtes who has translated a lot. But the Nobel people can presumably also read German and, of course, Swedish, to get an idea of what is going on in Hungary. I would have thought that Nádas stands a better chance than Krasznahorkai, because the former has been publishing significant works of literature that have been translated for around 20 years. I remember trying a few pages by Nádas in the the early 1990s, but my German wasn't up to it. But it was a German translation, that much I remember.

Eric
18-Aug-2011, 00:31
I've only read one Paasilinna, the famous hare one, and it was a beautiful book. Whether he is a broad enough author, or whether he has rung the changes on the same basic theme I do not know. But I get the feeling he is not as multi-talented as those who write in a variety of genres. Just a hunch, though.

Eric
18-Aug-2011, 00:37
As for Péter Esterházy, he was dealt quite a blow when he found out that his revered dad, whom he thought to be an aristocratic dissident (the Eszterházy / Esterházy family is nobility material), was in fact an informer to the Hungarian secret police. This evidently makes the son's work interesting, because he wrote a novel praising his dad, then an adjustment to it later on. Whether this would affect his chances for the Nobel is yet another mystery.

Mr. Search
18-Aug-2011, 04:29
I am suggesting a couple of names...Italian novelist Aldo Busi and Portuguese António Lobo Antunes (If I remember well Daniel mentioned him in the past).

Stiffelio
18-Aug-2011, 05:36
I've only read one Paasilinna, the famous hare one, and it was a beautiful book. Whether he is a broad enough author, or whether he has rung the changes on the same basic theme I do not know. But I get the feeling he is not as multi-talented as those who write in a variety of genres. Just a hunch, though.


There could be a sentimental factor in favour of Paasilinna. He had a stroke about a year ago; he's slowly recovering but apparently he won't be able to write any longer.

Eric
18-Aug-2011, 13:07
I doubt if sentimentality of that sort would come into play, but I've never asked anyone on the Nobel committee. I had in fact forgotten that Paasilinna had had a stroke. As Stiffelio suggests, his writing days are over, but he has an impressive number of novels to his name.

I still get the feeling that a Nobel winner must be more than a productive novelist, but a bit of an all-rounder, with thirty or forty years of writing to his or her name.

Sevastefo
18-Aug-2011, 18:48
I've just seen that some speculations in internet point out Vijaydan Detha, a indian writer, among condenders for nobel prize...I've never heart of him before...someone know him or it is like Amarilla last year...

JTolle
19-Aug-2011, 01:33
Based on age alone I'd say he's definitely not an Amarilla. At 84 years, and with a massive body of work, Detha does seem like a possible candidate. Obviously don't know about quality, but at least three volumes of short stories are available in English. His wiki page (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vijaydan_Detha).

Eric
19-Aug-2011, 15:26
The Wikipedia page shows that he writes in both Hindi and the local language Rajasthani. So are his works in English translations, and if so by himself or others?

Two stories of his are available online here:

http://wordswithoutborders.org/contributor/vijay-dan-detha/

Those two stories were translated by Christi A. Merrill.

Rumpelstilzchen
25-Aug-2011, 14:01
The nominess for next years Neustadt International Prize for Literature are the following:

Aleksandar Hemon (Bosnia)
(http://www.aleksandarhemon.com/)Zoë Wicomb (South Africa)
Elena Poniatowska (Mexico)
Bob Dylan (US)
Diamela Eltit (Chile)
Vénus Khoury-Ghata (Lebanon)
John Banville (Ireland)
Tahar Ben Jelloun (Morocco)
Rohinton Mistry (India/Canada)

Is anyone familiar with them? Could some of them be serious contenders for the Nobel prize? To my shame I have to admit to have never heard of all of them up to Dylan, Banville and Ben Jelloun.

Eric
25-Aug-2011, 16:18
I've heard of Alexandar Hemon because he is the editor of an annual anthology published with The Dalkey Archive Press, for which I translated Elo Viiding's story "Foreign Women". However, I have never read any of Hemon's own novels.

I've also heard of Zöe Wicomb, but I would have to Google for more detail.

And I've heard the name Diamela Eltit, which I remember for scabrous reasons but again, know nothing about.

Daniel del Real
25-Aug-2011, 22:44
I've read Aleksandar Hemon's The Lazarus Project and it is an amazing novel. Even though this guy learnt English very late, when he was almost thirty, he writes beautifully with a very crafted prose and integrating present and past stories into the novel. He often has been criticized for creating very "cold" characters; In Lazarus Project's case, it was necessary to create this type of character in order to reflect the bleak story and transfer it to modern days.
Now, regarding the Latin American side, it's so sad to see a writer that poor, mediocre and boring as Elena Poniatowska. I have no idea why, but she has managed to receive some of the most important prizes awarded in Latin America. It has to be because of her connections with the literary establishment besides that she is a very charismatic person, because her writings are really really bad.
About Eltit, I haven't read anything from her, but I haven't heard many good things about her. Bolańo had some issues with her, not as bad as with Isabel Allende, as he describes her as a very conceited woman who was/is married to a big name in the politics world and that represented the middle class turned to the aristocracy.
With so many interesting names in Latin America I haven no idea who the hell thought of these two writers representative of the Spanish language. I really really hope none of them to win.

anchomal
25-Aug-2011, 23:37
Surely this sort of award is a bit premature for the likes of Hemon and Mistry, though both are excellent writers. Banville won the Kafka Award this year, and he is Ireland's heavyweight (with an ego to match). If memory serves, Jelinek hoovered up a few big awards leading up to the Nobel, so could Banville follow suit?

Liam
26-Aug-2011, 01:50
Banville is Ireland's heavyweight (with an ego to match).I can think of any number of things more criminally heinous than a talented man taking himself seriously.

Eric
26-Aug-2011, 02:52
Anchomal: sure, most of the people tossed up into the air like juggler's balls (do not misunderstand me) are too young, or have written too few books. But we who are not party to the secret whisperings of the coven in Stockholm, find it an amusing sport to speculate. Not with millions of dollars on the bourses, like old Shorosh, but with names.

I think that the ideal candidate could be:

1) About 60 years old at the youngest.

2) Have written books in at least a couple of genres.

3) Have written at least about 15 book-length texts.

4) Be reasonably level-headed politically.

5) Not to have had too murky a past in Komsomol, Hitlerjugend, Fans of Pol Pot (Skull-Stacking Division), Uncle Muammar Club, or other proscribed organisations.

6) Not be related to anyone that qualifies for 5)

7) Have a tranquil, but not sycophant disposition.

adaorardor
26-Aug-2011, 04:06
Anchomal: sure, most of the people tossed up into the air like juggler's balls (do not misunderstand me) are too young, or have written too few books. But we who are not party to the secret whisperings of the coven in Stockholm, find it an amusing sport to speculate. Not with millions of dollars on the bourses, like old Shorosh, but with names.

I think that the ideal candidate could be:

1) About 60 years old at the youngest.

2) Have written books in at least a couple of genres.

3) Have written at least about 15 book-length texts.

4) Be reasonably level-headed politically.

5) Not to have had too murky a past in Komsomol, Hitlerjugend, Fans of Pol Pot (Skull-Stacking Division), Uncle Muammar Club, or other proscribed organisations.

6) Not be related to anyone that qualifies for 5)

7) Have a tranquil, but not sycophant disposition.

So you're going to punish writers for the political affiliations of their RELATIVES, Eric? Great idea.

adaorardor
26-Aug-2011, 05:09
I've read Aleksandar Hemon's The Lazarus Project and it is an amazing novel. Even though this guy learnt English very late, when he was almost thirty, he writes beautifully with a very crafted prose and integrating present and past stories into the novel. He often has been criticized for creating very "cold" characters; In Lazarus Project's case, it was necessary to create this type of character in order to reflect the bleak story and transfer it to modern days.
Now, regarding the Latin American side, it's so sad to see a writer that poor, mediocre and boring as Elena Poniatowska. I have no idea why, but she has managed to receive some of the most important prizes awarded in Latin America. It has to be because of her connections with the literary establishment besides that she is a very charismatic person, because her writings are really really bad.
About Eltit, I haven't read anything from her, but I haven't heard many good things about her. Bolańo had some issues with her, not as bad as with Isabel Allende, as he describes her as a very conceited woman who was/is married to a big name in the politics world and that represented the middle class turned to the aristocracy.
With so many interesting names in Latin America I haven no idea who the hell thought of these two writers representative of the Spanish language. I really really hope none of them to win.

The composition of the Neustadt committee changes for each award, and the shortlist is formed by allowing each writer on th committee to nominate one candidate. Here are the writers who nominated each candidate this time around:

Aleksandar Hemon // Bosnia // English // Rabih Alameddine
Zoë Wicomb // South Africa // English // Gabeba Baderoon
Elena Poniatowska // Mexico // Spanish // Norma Cantu
Bob Dylan // US // English // Andrea De Carlo
Diamela Eltit // Chile // Spanish // Nathalie Handal
Vénus Khoury-Ghata // Lebanon // French // Ilya Kaminsky
John Banville // Ireland // English // Yahia Lababidi
Tahar Ben Jelloun // Morocco // French // Miguel Syjuco
Rohinton Mistry // India/Canada // English // Samrat Upadhyay

http://www.ou.edu/wlt/news-2012neustadtjurors.html

Stiffelio
26-Aug-2011, 05:36
About Eltit, I haven't read anything from her, but I haven't heard many good things about her. Bolańo had some issues with her, not as bad as with Isabel Allende, as he describes her as a very conceited woman who was/is married to a big name in the politics world and that represented the middle class turned to the aristocracy.


You should not always trust Bolańo, at least not when he is not writing fiction!! Damiela Eltit is the far opposite to Isabel Allende, in literary terms. She writes rather innovative, often difficult to read post-modern literature, mostly dealing with marginal people and situations, and she approaches her books with an unorthodox structure. She's very higly regarded by everybody in the literary establishment and is considered one of Chile's greatest writers from the new generation. You also have things wrong about her social background. While she is very well educated, Eltit is certainly no aristocrat. She is a socialist and is married to Jorge Arrate, the socialist presidential candidate in the 2009 elections.

Eric
26-Aug-2011, 15:56
One thing I like about the Neustadt is the fact that the jury changes. So does the Nobel committee as people die off and are replaced, but this is a slower process. But you can, of course, argue that if the jury of the Neustadt may not be fair to some author, as he or she would have stood a better chance the previous year, or similar.

Another question: why is Bolańo specifically used as a kind of expert, as opposed to just one critic among many? If he wrote good fiction, this doesn't necessarily mean that his critical opinions are either good or bad. The analysis of other people's work requires different talents to those needed to write your own.

adaorardor
26-Aug-2011, 16:50
One thing I like about the Neustadt is the fact that the jury changes. So does the Nobel committee as people die off and are replaced, but this is a slower process. But you can, of course, argue that if the jury of the Neustadt may not be fair to some author, as he or she would have stood a better chance the previous year, or similar.

Another question: why is Bolańo specifically used as a kind of expert, as opposed to just one critic among many? If he wrote good fiction, this doesn't necessarily mean that his critical opinions are either good or bad. The analysis of other people's work requires different talents to those needed to write your own.

I think for commercial reasons, unfortunately...he was such a success sales-wise in the US that publishers think the only Latin American fiction they cal sell nowadays is fiction that they can put a "blurb" by Bolano on the back of. So we're getting a lot of Castellanos Moya's books, which are to my mind good but by no means brilliant or anything, but nothing by authors of greater reputations in the region itself, like Alberto Laiseca or Marcelo Cohen...Luckily we WILL be getting an English translation of Daniel Sada next year, who sounds really interesting, so the Bolano fixation will reap some benefits. And I wish we'd get Mantra by Rodrigo Fresan because the one book of his in English, Kensington Gardens, is not the one that interested me.

Daniel del Real
26-Aug-2011, 19:26
You should not always trust Bolańo, at least not when he is not writing fiction!! Damiela Eltit is the far opposite to Isabel Allende, in literary terms. She writes rather innovative, often difficult to read post-modern literature, mostly dealing with marginal people and situations, and she approaches her books with an unorthodox structure. She's very higly regarded by everybody in the literary establishment and is considered one of Chile's greatest writers from the new generation. You also have things wrong about her social background. While she is very well educated, Eltit is certainly no aristocrat. She is a socialist and is married to Jorge Arrate, the socialist presidential candidate in the 2009 elections.

I'm not comparing Eltit with Allende. I couldn't do that since I haven't read Eltit, and with that premise I would do no such harm to a human being. What I am saying is that Bolańo had trouble with both of them, that's it (Yeah, I know that he had trouble with almost everyone from the literary establishment). I'm only pointing the references I had about this woman, nothing else.
Now that you want to talk out loud Stiffekio, please tell us more about this lady besides she is a po-mo and highly appreciated figure in her country.

Daniel del Real
26-Aug-2011, 20:12
What are your thoughts on the chances of A.B. Yehoshua for the Nobel. I mean, he has all the characteristics that Eric mentions above (though 50 other writers with that specifications come to my mind). I've never read him, but yesterday I watched a book of him I'd have bought if it wasn't that fucking expensive. The title of the book is A Woman in Jerusalem. Here's the plot:


Israel's master novelist (Mr. Mani) tells a spellbinding tale about a spellbinding woman whose luminous smile, swan's neck and Tatar eyes are so beguiling that even in death she can lead a man to fall in love with her. The woman is Yulia Ragayev, a Slavic immigrant to Israel who has been killed in a terrorist bombing and whose corpse lies unidentified in a morgue for a week. The man (who, like everyone in the novel except Yulia, remains nameless) is the human resources manager at the commercial bakery where Yulia worked as a cleaning woman. A muckraking article forces the bakery's owner to discover her identity and take action to restore her dignity. The owner orders the HR director to return Yulia's body to her son and mother in her native land for burial—a journey that turns into an opportunity for moral redemption for him after a series of stunning reversals. Throughout, Yulia remains a mystery: why did she come to, and cling to, Jerusalem when she wasn't Jewish? Questions of morality, dignity, identity, nationality and belonging are subtly explored in sometimes hallucinatory prose, fluently translated by Halkin. This short novel's layers reveal themselves only gradually and, once revealed, continue to compel and provoke

Has anyone read this or other Yehoshua books?

alik-vit
26-Aug-2011, 20:44
What are your thoughts on the chances of A.B. Yehoshua for the Nobel. I mean, he has all the characteristics that Eric mentions above (though 50 other writers with that specifications come to my mind). I've never read him, but yesterday I watched a book of him I'd have bought if it wasn't that fucking expensive. The title of the book is A Woman in Jerusalem. Here's the plot:



Has anyone read this or other Yehoshua books?


I read this novel just a few days ago! Such boring book with few references to Faulkner (the plot is version of As I lay dying), to contemporary politics of his state to workers-emigratnts and very very heavy symbolism. It's my second attempt with A.B. Y. The previous one (with The open heart or Return from India) was a kind of disappointment too. It's absolutely shapeless book.

nightwood
26-Aug-2011, 20:47
Daniel, I dont know if you have seen the thread Pesahson has started on Yehoshua ?!
Well, here it is:

http://www.worldliteratureforum.com/forum/showthread.php/43684-A.B.Yehoshua

Daniel del Real
26-Aug-2011, 22:50
Daniel, I dont know if you have seen the thread Pesahson has started on Yehoshua ?!
Well, here it is:

http://www.worldliteratureforum.com/forum/showthread.php/43684-A.B.Yehoshua

Well, the thread is missing some action so I'll try to bring discussion to the plate.

liehtzu
27-Aug-2011, 04:15
Novelists:

Among Israeli contenders I'm not sure why Aharon Appelfeld is rarely mentioned. Oz and Yehoshua get bandied about a lot, but Appelfeld's been around awhile and written some great books, and that they're generally about the holocaust surely also wins him some points.

The fairly obscure Australian writer Gerald Murnane was a surprise addition to one of those betting lists the year before last, sending everyone scrambling to find out who this chap is, thus giving him a brief moment of minor celebrity. I passed up the opportunity to buy one of his novels the other day in Tokyo and am kinda kicking myself, but I really just have way too many books (I caved on Francois Mauriac's Desert of Love, however). But I am intrigued by Mr. Murnane. On the back cover of the book it quotes the author as saying that he's never owned a TV, has never been in an airplane or traveled abroad and has rarely been outside of the Melbourne area, and can't swim. He has, however, taught himself to read Hungarian, go figure.

Duong Thu Huong fulfills a lot of functions on their checklist nicely: female, banned in her own country, from the "Developing World," and war is a steady theme. Some might argue she's not a great enough literary stylist to win (though almost everyone is dependent on the aptitude of translators in her case!), but she's easily the most translated Vietnamese author into English and the French adore her.

Poets:

Tomas Venclova, who I mention every time one of these things starts up. Great poet, been around forever, friend of Milosz and Brodsky, from a small country that hasn't ever got a Nobel - and despite what they say, the jury is still very Euro-centric. Miodrag Pavlovic, the great Serbian poet who's supposedly been nominated a few times, is still around. Kenzaburo Oe has undoubtedly suggested Kim Chi Ha, a poet he admires a great deal, to the academy, and Kim might be a less likely winner from Korea than perennial favorite Ko Un. It is also possible that last year's Neustadt winner Duo Duo has a shot (the prize has preceded three previous winners of the Nobel), as well as Bei Dao - though talk of the latter ("China's first Nobel Literature laureate?") tended to dissipate after the award to Gao Xingjian, he's still surely got a shot.

Liehtzu say: Venclova, with Duong as dark horse. Not gonna win: Bob Dylan, at least not in any sane universe. Or Murakami Haruki. Wouldn't hold my breath on anyone American or Japanese these days, really.

Eric
27-Aug-2011, 14:20
Liehtzu brings an interesting bunch of names to the fore. Once in a while, the Nobel comes up with a name for the winner that "no one has ever heard of". This usually means that all those who cluster incestuously around bestsellers and names that are endlessly hyped in major literary magazines haven't heard of them.

Appelfeld is an interesting name. Whether he has written enough books to beat Oz and Yehoshua to it, if the Nobel people decide on an Israeli, is anyone's guess.

By the way, I've only talked to two people on Liehtzu's list, and one of those for about two minutes. But as I happen to live in Sweden, which country such people visit now and again, this is not impossible.

adaorardor
27-Aug-2011, 15:26
Liehtzu brings an interesting bunch of names to the fore. Once in a while, the Nobel comes up with a name for the winner that "no one has ever heard of". This usually means that all those who cluster incestuously around bestsellers and names that are endlessly hyped in major literary magazines haven't heard of them.

Appelfeld is an interesting name. Whether he has written enough books to beat Oz and Yehoshua to it, if the Nobel people decide on an Israeli, is anyone's guess.

By the way, I've only talked to two people on Liehtzu's list, and one of those for about two minutes. But as I happen to live in Sweden, which country such people visit now and again, this is not impossible.

Which two people, Eric? I think Appelfeld is certainly a leading contender, there are four leading Israeli contenders (Oz, AB Y, Appelfeld, and Grossman)...it would be a surprise if it went to another Israeli but not if it went to any of those four.

Elie
29-Aug-2011, 00:46
Yes, but why should their morals and your morals be the same? For example: I myself have no trouble believing that life starts at conception which, ipso facto, makes abortion an act of murder; now this would have some feminists out there absolutely LIVID and calling for my head on a silver platter. Obviously a conflict of morals here.

Should I therefore disparage a feminist's work if I happen to be a literary judge? Should she consequently disparage mine if our places are switched? (Provided that the "work" in question is not partisan in nature, of course). See, I would have a real problem with that. If a given writer is worthy of an award based on literary merit alone, then give it to them, no matter what their political/religious convictions or the lack thereof are.

No, I don't think the two sets of morals should necessarily be the same. I think there are many (most? all?) questions of morals where it's unclear what the "right" answer is, if indeed such a thing exists. But when it comes to genocide, ethnic cleansing etc - I think 99.99% of people are going to be on the same page, and I do not personally want to be reading works by people perpetuating or supporting these sorts of crimes. I'd also be sad to see them winning prizes. Regardless of literary merit.

I think this post kind of sums up what I meant:


Well, no, but Handke is a different thing, right? It certainly does not matter for the Nobel if you vote for the Republicans or the Democrats, but supporting a mass murder or at least playing down his crimes is something different, no?

So I'm not banning Tories from winning literary prizes ;-) but equally I'm not going to be buying Nick Griffin's hypothetical literary debut, regardless of how ground-breaking it is, because I find him and his ideology to be completely repugnant to me.

I can kind of see the 'art for art's sake' arguments, by the way, it's just totally not for me.

Eric
29-Aug-2011, 10:43
Being open-minded about writers, if you have to judge them for a literary prize, means you have to recognise that those you don't agree with in political terms are not automatically to be categorised as mass-murderers. Both social-democracy and conservatism are economic and social ways of organising society, not ways of enslaving people like nazism and communism. But even with these ideologies, the individual writer who has flirted with them is not necessarily a monster. Otherwise Hamsun would never be read, or Sholokhov. Many humane and humanist writers have been labelled for an episode in their life (e.g. Hamsun shaking Hitler's hand, or Márquez's friendship with Castro, Céline's antisemitism), but they must have significant literary qualities, or no one would read them.

So those who think that the Nobel should only go to a socialist are being one-sided. Because the usually slightly leftie team at the Nobel prize factory in Stockholm did, after all, give the prize to Llosa recently, who started out life as a communist, but is pretty conservative nowadays. He criticises dictators whatever their political colour. And given the history of South & Central America, this is surely the right thing to do.

Eric
29-Aug-2011, 10:57
Ada or Ardor asks which two I met. The most recent one was Bei Dao in a corridor. He was quite inscrutable and the conversation came to nothing.

The other was at a PEN lunch in Stockholm back in the 1980s, and that was Aharon Appelfeld. I had sat down next to him, having no idea who he was. And I thought at the time: what a nice old man (he wasn't so old), and how suave this East European immigrant to Israel is compared with all those sabra Israelis. They were rather arrogant, though one was speaking about how he was teaching Arabic one minute but was then instantly mobilised in a war situation to fight against those very Arabs whose language he'd been teaching. As a tank commander or similar. But Appelfeld was pleasant and low-key. And I had no idea, until later, when I started reading a book of his ("Badenheim 1939") and looked into his background, that he had suffered horribly as a child, scavenging in the Ukrainian woods to stay alive as a child.

Daniel del Real
29-Aug-2011, 19:50
I'm tossing more names in the discussion and here's one about an author I've bought two books recently, Jean Echenoz. I find him avery amusing and with a very agil way to tell stories. Most of his books are really short, in this way he can be compared with Cesar Aira and Mario Bellatin, with less works of course. However he can build very detailed atmospheres within a few pages and I think this is a very advantageous in these modern days with little time to read. Probably he one of the major literary figures France has to offer, along with the controversial Houllebeq. With 16 works published and 63 years old his name should be thrown into the basket of possible winners.



Liehtzu brings an interesting bunch of names to the fore. Once in a while, the Nobel comes up with a name for the winner that "no one has ever heard of". This usually means that all those who cluster incestuously around bestsellers and names that are endlessly hyped in major literary magazines haven't heard of them.


I think that's going to happen this year. After going with MVLL last year there is no big change two worldwide known authors are chosen in consecutive years. It would be interesting to see if they're unknown to most of the world, or even unknown for people here in the forum that we try to extract all the possible names with months in anticipation.

Sevastefo
30-Aug-2011, 23:18
I think Nobel committee will award a writer with both works in poetry and novel. May be Tahar Ben Jelloun (not expected but with a wonderful work), Tomas Tranströmer (very expected..and very deservedly) or Ismail Kadare (even more expected, but I don't like his work) ; Amongs poets only Adonis has a remarkable oeuvre.
And, although much talk about Haruki Murakami this year I don't think he will get it.
Those are, by now, my speculations...If I were the Nobel committee my candidate would be Salman Rushdie (but, I know, this is just my wish...I hope it come true someday) :D

Eric
30-Aug-2011, 23:35
Daniel's introduction of Echenoz here is welcome. I looked at the English and Swedish Wikipedia articles and they were useless. But the French one is pretty thorough. So I'm looking at that now.

Sevastefo
30-Aug-2011, 23:49
Why not Echenoz, but if they would award a french writer - And I don't think so - it would be better Michel Tournier, Yves Bonnefoy, Pierre Michon or even Michel Butor (not...i'm joking).

adaorardor
31-Aug-2011, 01:54
Why not Echenoz, but if they would award a french writer - And I don't think so - it would be better Michel Tournier, Yves Bonnefoy, Pierre Michon or even Michel Butor (not...i'm joking).

Or Cixous or Jaccottet!!

Daniel del Real
01-Sep-2011, 00:41
I think Nobel committee will award a writer with both works in poetry and novel. May be Tahar Ben Jelloun (not expected but with a wonderful work), Tomas Tranströmer (very expected..and very deservedly) or Ismail Kadare (even more expected, but I don't like his work) ; Amongs poets only Adonis has a remarkable oeuvre.
And, although much talk about Haruki Murakami this year I don't think he will get it.
Those are, by now, my speculations...If I were the Nobel committee my candidate would be Salman Rushdie (but, I know, this is just my wish...I hope it come true someday) :D

Tahar Ben Jelloun would be a really interesting choice. Unfortunately I haven't read him, but yesterday I was pretty close to buy a novel called The Sacred Night. Is he simialr to Amin Maalouf, an arab world author writing in French and trying to conceal both worlds?


Why not Echenoz, but if they would award a french writer - And I don't think so - it would be better Michel Tournier, Yves Bonnefoy, Pierre Michon or even Michel Butor (not...i'm joking).

I'm very curious about Michon, I should add it to my reading list.

Stiffelio
01-Sep-2011, 05:27
Tahar Ben Jelloun would be a really interesting choice. Unfortunately I haven't read him, but yesterday I was pretty close to buy a novel called The Sacred Night. Is he simialr to Amin Maalouf, an arab world author writing in French and trying to conceal both worlds?


Ben Jelloun is completely different from Maalouf. While Maalouf tends to write rather long yarns about historical figures or events, Ben Jelloun is a very instrospective writer, who writes very short books with a most poetic prose. His style is more similar to Marguerite Duras, if you will. He's also a great admirer of Borges. In fact his dyptic L'Enfant de sable and La Nuit sacrée are losely based on Borges's El Libro de Arena. Those two books are ladled with Borgesean symbolism. I fully recommend that you read The Sacred Night, but first you should read The Sand Child. If you can't read French, try finding the excellent Spanish versions.

Septularisen
01-Sep-2011, 09:01
Or Cixous or Jaccottet!!

Sorry, but Philippe JACCOTTET is from Switzerland!...

Septularisen
01-Sep-2011, 09:04
Why not Echenoz, but if they would award a french writer - And I don't think so - it would be better Michel Tournier, Yves Bonnefoy, Pierre Michon or even Michel Butor (not...i'm joking).

Michel TOURNIER is now 87 years hold.. and Michel BUTOR 85... a little late for the Nobel no?

Septularisen
01-Sep-2011, 10:37
Elena Poniatowska[/B]. I have no idea why, but she has managed to receive some of the most important prizes awarded in Latin America. It has to be because of her connections with the literary establishment besides that she is a very charismatic person, because her writings are really really bad.

I'm sorry, but I can't let you say that without responding,
Elena PONIATOWSKA is a great writer, who has written over 30 books and received over 10 major international awards...
She was made Doctor “Honoris Causa” of the University of Paris VIII in 2011.

I can understand that you don’t like is writing, and find is language poor... This is your opinion and I accept this...
But I have read a lot of his book, and I can tell you that I found she wrote wonderful well with finesse and nuance, and although that his name has never been made, She would be completely valid Nobel...

Sevastefo
01-Sep-2011, 18:01
Michel TOURNIER is now 87 years hold.. and Michel BUTOR 85... a little late for the Nobel no?

Not a little late...indeed, really very late; but, as Lessing (who got it when no one - even she - expected: she was 88) I think Tournier deserve the Prize.

Sevastefo
01-Sep-2011, 18:25
continuing with speculations and considering some other names, I think italian language and authors have been disregarded by nobel committe last years. If someone deserves the Prize among them, the probable names would be: Umberto Eco, Claudio Magris, Sebastiano Vassalli and Antonio Tabucchi.
Who would be their choice?
May be Tabucchi, the most poetic of them?
may be Vassalli, the most unknown?
may be Eco, the most complete, the most versatile?
may be Magris, the most complex, the most european?

Daniel del Real
01-Sep-2011, 18:35
I'm sorry, but I can't let you say that without responding,
Elena PONIATOWSKA is a great writer, who has written over 30 books and received over 10 major international awards...
She was made Doctor “Honoris Causa” of the University of Paris VIII in 2011.

I can understand that you don’t like is writing, and find is language poor... This is your opinion and I accept this...
But I have read a lot of his book, and I can tell you that I found she wrote wonderful well with finesse and nuance, and although that his name has never been made, She would be completely valid Nobel...


Yeah, I mean she has all the possible awards in Latin America from publishing groups, academies, one single book contests, trajectory awards, honoris causa, etc, etc, etc. Her public relations are awesome. However that's the only awesome on her.
You probably have read her in translation, and probably the translators are marvelous wording the long boring and terribly structured paragraphs se creates in Spanish as well as all the nonsense and lies she writes in her so-called "historical" novels that are full unbased events.
Trust me my friend, we have better literature in here, don't stay with her.

adaorardor
02-Sep-2011, 00:33
Sorry, but Philippe JACCOTTET is from Switzerland!...

I categorize writers by language more than by nationality, I was thinking of French-language writers.

liehtzu
02-Sep-2011, 00:36
continuing with speculations and considering some other names, I think italian language and authors have been disregarded by nobel committe last years. If someone deserves the Prize among them, the probable names would be: Umberto Eco, Claudio Magris, Sebastiano Vassalli and Antonio Tabucchi.
Who would be their choice?
May be Tabucchi, the most poetic of them?
may be Vassalli, the most unknown?
may be Eco, the most complete, the most versatile?
may be Magris, the most complex, the most european?

Tabucchi I haven't read, Vassalli I haven't even heard of.

I don't think Eco is a serious contender. Look at the history of the award. It's never been given to an Eco-style (or Murakami-style) writer, unless you count Pamuk, who is "postmodern" but has the handy theme of modernity vs. tradition in a country that's of a great deal of interest to Europe at present. I don't know enough about Eco, but what I've read (reviews, interviews) doesn't leave him coming across as having too terribly much depth, despite his erudition. I have a friend who swears by Foucault's Pendulum, but postmodernist mysteries fail to light much of a fire for me.

I would be far from displeased if Magris took it, as he's a great writer and carries a torch for European tradition - which carries a lot of weight with the Academy, which is generally conservative in its literary tastes.

Daniel del Real
02-Sep-2011, 01:00
continuing with speculations and considering some other names, I think italian language and authors have been disregarded by nobel committe last years. If someone deserves the Prize among them, the probable names would be: Umberto Eco, Claudio Magris, Sebastiano Vassalli and Antonio Tabucchi.
Who would be their choice?
May be Tabucchi, the most poetic of them?
may be Vassalli, the most unknown?
may be Eco, the most complete, the most versatile?
may be Magris, the most complex, the most european?

My favorite from this list is Tabucchi. He is a splendid short story teller, something that it's not easy to find these days. Besides, he doesn't represent only Italy but also Portugal as many of his books are set in Lisbon or some other cities from this country. He even wroter an entire book in Portuguese language, Requiem.
His prose is very poetic and the long titles of his short stories look like verses.

I've never heard of Vassallio either, but I'll look for info about him. If you have read him please tell.

Now what do you think are the chances of Alessandro Baricco? too young? too light? I think he is very good writer and I've enjoyed some of his books like Novecento and Without Blood.

Liam
02-Sep-2011, 01:17
Silk was a big fucking yawn.

adaorardor
02-Sep-2011, 03:30
My favorite from this list is Tabucchi. He is a splendid short story teller, something that it's not easy to find these days. Besides, he doesn't represent only Italy but also Portugal as many of his books are set in Lisbon or some other cities from this country. He even wroter an entire book in Portuguese language, Requiem.
His prose is very poetic and the long titles of his short stories look like verses.

I've never heard of Vassallio either, but I'll look for info about him. If you have read him please tell.

Now what do you think are the chances of Alessandro Baricco? too young? too light? I think he is very good writer and I've enjoyed some of his books like Novecento and Without Blood.

I think Baricco is too lightweight for the Nobel. Frankly that is also my general impression of Tabucchi and I'll need some convincing before I pick up one of his books, but if he has any fans here than go ahead and convince me otherwise. The book involving Pessoa and one of is heteronyms, when I considered reading it, had the appearance of being very slight next to something like The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis.

Finally, I think it's incumbent upon Sepultarisen to school us all on Sebastiano Vassalli...Tell us about him and his major works, please?

Mr. Search
02-Sep-2011, 07:45
continuing with speculations and considering some other names, I think italian language and authors have been disregarded by nobel committe last years. If someone deserves the Prize among them, the probable names would be: Umberto Eco, Claudio Magris, Sebastiano Vassalli and Antonio Tabucchi.
Who would be their choice?
May be Tabucchi, the most poetic of them?
may be Vassalli, the most unknown?
may be Eco, the most complete, the most versatile?
may be Magris, the most complex, the most european?

The most innovative, funny and courageous Italian writer alive is Aldo Busi (also a wonderful translator from French, English and German languages). His first novel 'Seminar on Youth' has been translated in several languages years ago, although with significant mistakes (the Portuguese translation immediately starts with a total subversion of the meaning of the first sentence). Reading Busi in the original is a joy. In Italy he is very well known, unfortunately also for the wrong reasons (polemic appearances in TV program like 'Surviver' - he affirms that the context is irrelevant: he can talk about literature anywhere...in this sense, he is unique in Italy...In a recent interview he said that "any idiot can win a Nobel prize nowadays...but which writer dares to appear on 'Survivor
"?

kpjayan
02-Sep-2011, 07:52
Silk was a big fucking yawn. I thought, I was the only one who felt so. I still cant figure out the reason for all that hoopla about it.

Septularisen
02-Sep-2011, 08:51
Not a little late...indeed, really very late; but, as Lessing (who got it when no one - even she - expected: she was 88) I think Tournier deserve the Prize.

I realy don'o know. In the early 80th Michel TOURNIER was with Claude SIMON the biggest french favorite author for the Nobel.
After the two writers make a conference tour in Sweden, the Swedisch academy decide to give the Prize to the second one...
Why? I never find an answer...
But Michel TOURNIER definitively remain without the Prize!...

Septularisen
02-Sep-2011, 12:04
Continuing with speculations and considering some other names, last year favorites where this 10 writers :

Haruki MURAKAMI from Japan
Ko UN from South Corea
Cormac McCARTHY from the USA
Tomas TRANSTRÖMER from Sweden
Amos OZ from Israel
Alice MUNRO from canada
Philip ROTH from the USA
Ngugi WA THIONG'O from Kenya
Mario VARGAS-LLOSA from Perou
ADONIS (Ali Ahmed SAID) from Lebanon

As VARGAS-LLOSA received the Nobel some others name can be considerated for this year : Antonio LOBO-ANTUNES, Juan GELMAN, "Les" MURRAY, Bei DAO, Adam ZAGAJEWSKI, John ASHBERY, Philippe JACCOTTET...

But, I really think that the 2011 Nobel Prize must be one of the 9 name remain in the 2010 list.
My favorite would be Haruki MURAKAMI, but as he is considering "to junger" for the Nobel why not Tomas TRANSTRÖMER or ADONIS this year?

Eric
02-Sep-2011, 12:55
Septularisen's list is all right, but it would be nice to have a few more surprise names. I mean serious authors of a whole oeuvre of poetry, prose and / or plays, not completely weird names, such as Bob Dylan. But the degree of international obscurity or familiarity cannot always be judged by using the usual contenders that are mainly from the West as a yardstick. There are probably several names from, for example, India that could be on any list, but the lack of translations into a language the Nobel people can read is maybe a hurdle.

Ngugi's one name that has been frequently mentioned in previous years, but he still hasn't won it.

anchomal
02-Sep-2011, 14:15
As a list, it does cover most of the bases (we could throw a few more in, Nooteboom, Nadas, Tabucchi, Magris, Rushdie, Chinua Achebe etc.), and it's as good a place as any to start. But can we take it that these are the leading contenders from their respective countries, or are there others more worthy?

I can't see the prize going to Murakami. I enjoyed the few books of his that I've read but I am yet to be convinced that he is of Nobel quality (though I haven't yet read IQ84, so maybe that will help convince me otherwise). But is he the only truly serious Japanese candidate?
Amos Oz would, to my mind, be a frontrunner. I think he is a brilliant writer. But it's great that some other Israeli names have surfaced here in the past few weeks, and I look forward to checking them out.
What about the other names on the list? Alice Munro... I'm not sure. She is a fine writer to my knowledge has only produced short stories, and someone like Margaret Atwood seems to have a more diverse body of work. And are the Americans participating in the big dialogue of literature yet? (this seems a bit of a nonsense to me, but there you go...). I think if we consider the list of leading contenders, we could probably come up with a few challengers on a country by country basis.

And with Mario Vargas Llosa's win, does that rule out the chances of other Latin Americans or Spanish language writers? I know that, 'officially', it doesn't, but back-to-back winners are rare, I think.

I hope for someone new to my radar. I had never read Le Clezio before his win, or Mahfouz, or Saramago, and this is what I really love about the prize. Just as long as the winner really is deserving.

liehtzu
02-Sep-2011, 14:27
For Eric's request of lesser-known names, I offer this from the Angel Classics website. God love them, they still keep The Slavs Beneath Parnassus in print. Must sell two or three every ten years:

Miodrag Pavlović, the senior figure in Serbian poetry today, is less well known to the English-speaking world than his compatriots Vasko Popa and Ivan V. Lalić, although he has been widely translated into other European languages. Pavlović’s poetry is rooted in Serbian historical mythology, which treats the tragic fate of the young Christian Serbian kingdom at the Battle of Kosovo in 1389 as a grand sacrifice that saved medieval Christendom from the Ottoman yoke.

Pavlović’s first collection 87 Poems, published in the last year of Stalin’s life, caused a political and literary furore, playing a major part in the launching of the modernist movement in Yugoslavia with an effect that might be compared in English terms to the first impact of the poets of the Great War and The Waste Land combined. In his next collections, he went on to link Serbian historical mythology with his own time.

Pavlović’s interpretation of history and myth is in line with the major impetuses of international modernism, and he finds inspiration in T. S. Eliot, Yeats and Valéry in giving a sharply contemporary treatment and a broad European context not only to the mythologised heroic moment of Balkan history but also to the tradition of Ancient Greece, still keenly felt in the Balkans, and to themes from the New Testament and early Christianity.


‘In Miodrag Pavlović’s poems the remote past exists as immediately and as intensely as modern Belgrade. Yet his voice and technique are wholly modern and original. And that seems both natural and inevitable. It takes a black, dislocating sensibility like his to cope with a surreal inheritance in which violence and discontinuity are the only certainties.’ – A. Alvarez

‘[Pavlovic] gives a synoptic view of his own people’s history, at once conquered and conquering, Christian and pagan … always close to folk tale and song, simple, moving and brilliant, a reminder of what our own culture no longer possesses.’ – Martin Dodsworth, Guardian




Fact is there are a number of great living European poets, especially from the former Eastern Blok, who are Nobel-worthy and getting up in years. Although they've given it to two Polish poets already (and, alas, ignored Herbert, the greatest) Rozewicz is still around and though the most recent thing of his I read was quite awful (the collection Recycling), a recent publication from Archipelago Books, New Poems has seen very good reviews, and the man ought to win for his massive influence on post-war European poetry alone; Zagejewski also; Gunter Kunert, Sarah Kirsch, and Reiner Kunze from former East Germany; the Czech Josef Hanzlik; Ana Blandiana in Romania; Lyubomir Levchev in Bulgaria; Venclova, aforementioned; Imants Ziedonis in Latvia; Jaan Kaplinski, who's probably already been mentioned by Eric or others among you who keep up with the Baltics. Not to mention Bonnefoy and Transtromer, Enzensberger... It's in a way the last generation of great European poets, and there's surely a worthy candidate or two in that bunch.



Anchomal:

I also take a rather dim view of Mr. Murakami, who is a fine pop writer, but if he were to win a Nobel I'd fall right out of my chair. As for whether Japan has a worthy alternative, well, I live here and as far as I know the country hasn't produced a major writer (or a major filmmaker) in the last four decades. Prior to that there were several. There has been a dropping off.

kpjayan
02-Sep-2011, 15:41
There are probably several names from, for example, India that could be on any list, but the lack of translations into a language the Nobel people can read is maybe a hurdle.

Here is a list of 10 names form India.. with few suggested books ( not sure if any of them are serious contenders, though..).

1) Sunil Gangopadhyay (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunil_Gangopadhyay) ( Bengali) - Those Days , At Heaven's Gate, City of Memories
2) Indira Goswami (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mamoni_Raisom_Goswami) ( Assamese) - Pages Stained With Blood , The Moth Eaten Howdah of the Tusker
3) Jayakanthan (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jayakanthan) ( Tamil ) - Beneath the Banyan Tree , Love and Loss, Dissonance and other Stories
4) U R Ananthamurthy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U._R._Ananthamurthy) ( Kannada ) - Bhava, Stallion of other Son
5) M T Vasudevan Nair (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M._T._Vasudevan_Nair) ( Malayalam) - The house around the courtyard, The Demon Seed, Second Turn, The Master Carpenter
6) M.Mukundan (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M._Mukundan) ( Malayalam ) - God's Mischief , Kesavan's Lamentations, On the Banks of River Mayyazhi
7) Mahaswetha Devi (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahasweta_Devi) ( Bengali ) - Chotti Munda and His Arrow , Imaginary Maps, Bitter Soil
8) Keki Daruwala (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keki_N._Daruwalla)( Hindi / English ) - Pepper and Jesus
9) Anand (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anand_%28writer%29)( Malayalam ) - The Crowd, Death Certificate, The refugees
10) S L Bhyrappa (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S._L._Bhyrappa) ( Kannada) -

Septularisen
02-Sep-2011, 16:56
And with Mario Vargas Llosa's win, does that rule out the chances of other Latin Americans or Spanish language writers? I know that, 'officially', it doesn't, but back-to-back winners are rare, I think.

Not really true... In 1989 Camilo José CELA awarded the Nobel prize and in 1990 Octavio PAZ... two spanish language writers...
Then why not this year?...

anchomal
02-Sep-2011, 17:16
Not really true... In 1989 Camilo José CELA awarded the Nobel prize and in 1990 Octavio PAZ... two spanish language writers...
Then why not this year?...

Hence the caveat, 'rare' :p

Liam
02-Sep-2011, 18:00
As for whether Japan has a worthy alternative, well, I live here and as far as I know the country hasn't produced a major writer (or a major filmmaker) in the last four decades.

What happened to your sojourn in Thailand?

You know, living in a country (especially as a foreigner) proves nothing.

Do you read/speak Japanese freely? Have you read most of the Japanese authors published in Japanese (but not necessarily translated) within the last 15+ years? Why make such sweeping generalizations then?

People who don't speak Armenian and who can't even locate Armenia on the map can likewise claim that nothing important is going on in Armenian literature at present.

Daniel del Real
02-Sep-2011, 19:38
I thought, I was the only one who felt so. I still cant figure out the reason for all that hoopla about it.

I second both your opinions. Silk is by far the worse I've read by Baricco. Probably is one of those books that regular bestseller readers read and think they're reading art because it's short and they manage to understand. But the rest of his works I've read are very good, some of them really ambitious without finally delivering what expected like Ocean Sea. I also agree that for me he is lightweight for the Nobel prize. However Novecento is a great, brief and marvelous tead.


I realy don'o know. In the early 80th Michel TOURNIER was with Claude SIMON the biggest french favorite author for the Nobel.
After the two writers make a conference tour in Sweden, the Swedisch academy decide to give the Prize to the second one...
Why? I never find an answer...
But Michel TOURNIER definitively remain without the Prize!...

In 1985, when the Nobel went to Claude Simon the hope of the rest of noveau roman representatives were frozen. Authors at that time alive like Nathalie Sarraute, Allain Robbe Grillet and the already mentioned Michel Tournier saw their chances vanish. After many years the Academy went back to France with Le Clezio but with a totally new school, very different than the noveau roman generation. I personally don't know if Tournier could be classified under that generation but it could be an interesting coming back for the old french writers at the top of literary world.

Amoxcalli
02-Sep-2011, 19:51
I honestly think Nooteboom would be a great winner. As far as I know, he's read abroad, but far from a household name. He's been a prolific writer who published his first work a few years after the end of the second World War and has been writing top-quality works ever since. He also writes in multiple disciplines, although his travel writing and prose works are generally the most appreciated. He would also be the first Dutch-language author to win the prize. I reckon he'd be an all-round, solid choice.

Milan Kundera would be a solid choice too, in my opinion, even if he essentially only wrote one novel, many times. I think his ideas are really worthwhile most of the time, and he seems to have a very good understanding of literature and its history. Unfortunately for him, he's of the '66 generation and a bit out of fashion these days.

As for "obscure" writers, I can really only speak for Dutch and Flemish literature here, and I think Dutch-language authors are either not good enough or not old enough to be considered. Flemish author Dmitri Verhulst will make a solid contender 30 years from now, if he keeps up his level. His books aren't of a consistently high standard, but his best books are really, really good.

I don't know enough Arabic yet to really comment on that, but I find it improbably that a literary scene as diverse as the Arab one fails to produce more than one Nobel candidate (ie. Adonis), so there must be some good writers (possibly ones who never get through censorship and thus don't even make it to print!) out there.

Uemarasan
02-Sep-2011, 19:58
As for whether Japan has a worthy alternative, well, I live here and as far as I know the country hasn't produced a major writer (or a major filmmaker) in the last four decades. Prior to that there were several. There has been a dropping off.

I'm with Liam. This seems to be a very myopic point-of-view, especially with regards to Japanese filmmakers. You don't seem to know anything about cinema. Are you talking about age or the years that they have been active in? Off the top of my head, major filmmakers who have been working and making important films during the last four decades include Miike Takashi, Kurosawa Kiyoshi, Koreeda Hirokazu, Kitano Takeshi, Miyazaki Hayao. Great young filmmakers include Hashiguchi, Sono, Shinkai. Seriously, do you have any idea what you're talking about?

As for authors, why is Murakami the only Japanese writer people seem capable of talking about? Yamada Eimi, Tanikawa Shuntaro, and Ito Hiromi (who does not translate well into English) are better writers and definitely more deserving of the prize than Murakami. And Ogawa Yoko's writing career looks very promising. Maybe in a few more years.

Indeed, simply living in another country or speaking its language does not mean that you really know anything about it.

adaorardor
02-Sep-2011, 20:03
I'm with Liam. This seems to be a very myopic point-of-view, especially with regards to Japanese filmmakers. You don't seem to know anything about cinema. Are you talking about age or the years that they have been active in? Off the top of my head, major filmmakers who have been working and making important films during the last four decades include Miike Takashi, Kurosawa Kiyoshi, Koreeda Hirokazu, Kitano Takeshi, Miyazaki Hayao. Great young filmmakers include Hashiguchi, Sono, Shinkai. Seriously, do you have any idea what you're talking about?

As for authors, why is Murakami the only Japanese writer people seem capable of talking about? Yamada Eimi, Tanikawa Shuntaro, and Ito Hiromi (who does not translate well into English) are better writers and definitely more deserving of the prize than Murakami. And Ogawa Yoko's writing career looks very promising. Maybe in a few more years.

Indeed, simply living in another country or speaking its languange does not mean that you really know anything about it.

I second the appreciation of Kiyoshi Kurosawa and Takashi Miike, and I'd add a few others like Shinji Aoyama (Eureka) too.

And was the original poster thumbing his nose at Kenzaburo Oe???

Uemarasan, can you tell us more about Yamada Eimi, Tanikawa Shuntaro, and Ito Hiromi??

adaorardor
02-Sep-2011, 20:04
I honestly think Nooteboom would be a great winner. As far as I know, he's read abroad, but far from a household name. He's been a prolific writer who published his first work a few years after the end of the second World War and has been writing top-quality works ever since. He also writes in multiple disciplines, although his travel writing and prose works are generally the most appreciated. He would also be the first Dutch-language author to win the prize. I reckon he'd be an all-round, solid choice.

Milan Kundera would be a solid choice too, in my opinion, even if he essentially only wrote one novel, many times. I think his ideas are really worthwhile most of the time, and he seems to have a very good understanding of literature and its history. Unfortunately for him, he's of the '66 generation and a bit out of fashion these days.

As for "obscure" writers, I can really only speak for Dutch and Flemish literature here, and I think Dutch-language authors are either not good enough or not old enough to be considered. Flemish author Dmitri Verhulst will make a solid contender 30 years from now, if he keeps up his level. His books aren't of a consistently high standard, but his best books are really, really good.

I don't know enough Arabic yet to really comment on that, but I find it improbably that a literary scene as diverse as the Arab one fails to produce more than one Nobel candidate (ie. Adonis), so there must be some good writers (possibly ones who never get through censorship and thus don't even make it to print!) out there.

Can you tell us more about Dmitri Verhulst?? Never heard of him before...

I guess Nooteboom would be an okay choice but I would've much preferred Hugo Claus, or even Harry Mulisch.

Daniel del Real
02-Sep-2011, 20:11
I still think that this year winner will be linked in one way or another to the Arab world. On contrary to Apfelwurm alligations, the Nobel comittee has always been known for backing the right cause in the moment it occurs. This year the worlwide huge topic has been the Arab rebellions to overthrow dicatorships. Besides there's no Arab winner since Mahfouz who was very well received and proved to be a great chice through the years. After that said, the names pop by themselves: Adonis, Amin Maalouf, Tahar Ben Jelloun, Assia Djebar, Boualem Sansaal, Elias Khoury. I don't know if there is any Egyptian big name that could join this list.




For Eric's request of lesser-known names, I offer this from the Angel Classics website. God love them, they still keep The Slavs Beneath Parnassus in print. Must sell two or three every ten years:

Miodrag Pavlović, the senior figure in Serbian poetry today, is less well known to the English-speaking world than his compatriots Vasko Popa and Ivan V. Lalić, although he has been widely translated into other European languages. Pavlović’s poetry is rooted in Serbian historical mythology, which treats the tragic fate of the young Christian Serbian kingdom at the Battle of Kosovo in 1389 as a grand sacrifice that saved medieval Christendom from the Ottoman yoke.



In this part he sounds like if Kadare would write poetry as a lot of his writings are based on this encounter between the Christian Serbians and the Turks. It sure sounds interesting, thank you for bringing us that name liehtzu.

Daniel del Real
02-Sep-2011, 20:16
Can you tell us more about Dmitri Verhulst?? Never heard of him before...

I guess Nooteboom would be an okay choice but I would've much preferred Hugo Claus, or even Harry Mulisch.

Mulisch would have been a great choice last year. Now he is dead :(

anchomal
02-Sep-2011, 20:20
I honestly think Nooteboom would be a great winner.

Yes, he must be a major candidate. Could this be his year, especially since Harry Mulisch is now dead. leaving him fairly unchallenged as top Dutch dog? I wonder if, in the past, these two might have split the votes among the Nobel committee. And from the few books of his that I've read he would seem very deserving. I especially liked his short novel, Lost Paradise. Also, a new collection of his stories, The Foxes Come At Night, has just been published in English translation by MacLehose Press (a few of which were read on BBC Radio 4).

Daniel del Real
02-Sep-2011, 20:28
Yes, he must be a major candidate. Could this be his year, especially since Harry Mulisch is now dead. leaving him fairly unchallenged as top Dutch dog? I wonder if, in the past, these two might have split the votes among the Nobel committee. And from the few books of his that I've read he would seem very deserving. I especially liked his short novel, Lost Paradise. Also, a new collection of his stories, The Foxes Come At Night, has just been published in English translation by MacLehose Press (a few of which were read on BBC Radio 4).

Have you read the novel Rituels? I saw it the other day and I was really tempted to purchase it. Looked pretty good from what I read in the back cover.

Uemarasan
02-Sep-2011, 21:18
I second the appreciation of Kiyoshi Kurosawa and Takashi Miike, and I'd add a few others like Shinji Aoyama (Eureka) too.

And was the original poster thumbing his nose at Kenzaburo Oe???

Uemarasan, can you tell us more about Yamada Eimi, Tanikawa Shuntaro, and Ito Hiromi??

Aoyama Shinji, yes, for Eureka, although he is a bit inconsistent as a filmmaker. That said, I am looking forward to Tokyo Koen. Maybe that film will make me reappraise my opinion of him.

Well, perhaps not Yamada Eimi. I was being a little facetious when I included her, although I enjoy her almost-pornography over Murakami's triteness. At least I get some pleasure, no matter how base and sordid, from Yamada, compared to the empty-of-insight aesthetics of Murakami. If you would really like to know about her, Yamada is a popular and controversial writer because of the sexual frankness and racial (racist?) sexual politics in her work, more often than not between Japanese women and black men. There's S&M, lengthy depictions of interracial sex, and female empowerment. Delicious.

Tanikawa Shuntaro is one of those old masters who are generally overlooked because he's been around for so long. Everyone is obsessed with the relatively young and nubile Murakami - much sexier to talk about - so they tend to forget that one of the greatest Japanese poets is still around and very much alive. Add to that that he writes heavily in a genre typically disdained by the Swedish Academy (children's literature) so he has several things going against him. It's easy to look him up and a selection of his poetry is available online. As a poet, he is able to oscillate between various poetic forms and free verse with great use of irony to both tragic and comedic effect.

Ito Hiromi is a little less subtle a poet than Tanikawa. Confrontational, direct, plainspoken. She talks about a lot of feminist issues but to pigeonhole her as merely a feminist writer is to do her a disservice. Like with Tanikawa, what she is able to do with the Japanese language, how she transforms it and makes it, in a sense, new and her own, is nothing short of prodigious. The only way to fully appreciate the talent of these two poets and their mastery of language is to read them in the original Japanese. Sonics are such an important component of their work (actually, Japanese poetry in general), and sound is virtually impossible to translate effectively. Perhaps that is why they are often overshadowed by the more obvious literary qualities of a Murakami surrealist adventure?

Liam
02-Sep-2011, 22:15
^^An insightful and informative post that made me want to learn more about these authors, especially the two poets, :).

Amoxcalli
02-Sep-2011, 22:55
Can you tell us more about Dmitri Verhulst?? Never heard of him before...

I guess Nooteboom would be an okay choice but I would've much preferred Hugo Claus, or even Harry Mulisch.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dimitri_Verhulst

His De helaasheid der dingen is his best work in my opinion (and the opinion of a lot of people beside me, as well) and has been adapted to film very well. That book is also the one that made him famous, so to say. I'm a big fan of Godverdomse dagen op een godverdomse bol, a very cynical rant on the history of mankind. Even though the book got mixed reviews (it lacks characters, a plot, dialogue, basically anything that makes a novel a novel), I think he got the perfect tone for the novel. I don't know if it has been translated into English. I haven't read any of his other novels, but I've heard almost every book is an improvement on the previous one.

Like I said, not exactly Nobel material, but he could be, eventually.

I like Mulisch, but I can't stand Claus. He's even more of a show-off than James Joyce, but without the Irishman's talent.

Amoxcalli
02-Sep-2011, 23:05
Have you read the novel Rituels? I saw it the other day and I was really tempted to purchase it. Looked pretty good from what I read in the back cover.

One of my favourites. I think I prefer Philip and the others (I'm not even sure!), but it's definitely very good. If you happen to stumble upon The Following Story, get it. It's a fun, relatively short novel. Very Nooteboom, I think.

Daniel del Real
02-Sep-2011, 23:12
One of my favourites. I think I prefer Philip and the others (I'm not even sure!), but it's definitely very good. If you happen to stumble upon The Following Story, get it. It's a fun, relatively short novel. Very Nooteboom, I think.

So far the only Nooteboom I've read is actually The Following Story. I liked it but wasn't exactly the most enthusiastic when I finished it. Probably it was my fault, so I want to give myself another chance with this writer so I'll pick Rituels. Besides,I have to say that my copy of The Following Story is signed by Nooteboom :)

Septularisen
03-Sep-2011, 00:22
In 1985, when the Nobel went to Claude Simon the hope of the rest of noveau roman representatives were frozen. Authors at that time alive like Nathalie Sarraute, Allain Robbe Grillet and the already mentioned Michel Tournier saw their chances vanish. After many years the Academy went back to France with Le Clezio but with a totally new school, very different than the noveau roman generation. I personally don't know if Tournier could be classified under that generation but it could be an interesting coming back for the old french writers at the top of literary world.

For say the truth Alain ROBBE-GRILLET (1922-2008) never was considering as a potential candidate to the Nobel. The others french candidates of that time are : René CHAR (1907-1988), Marguerite YOURCENAR (1903-1987), Henri MICHAUX (1899-1984) and Marguerite DURAS (1914-1996)... Michel TOURNIER is the only still on live today...

Septularisen
03-Sep-2011, 00:35
I still think that this year winner will be linked in one way or another to the Arab world. On contrary to Apfelwurm alligations, the Nobel comittee has always been known for backing the right cause in the moment it occurs. This year the worlwide huge topic has been the Arab rebellions to overthrow dicatorships. Besides there's no Arab winner since Mahfouz who was very well received and proved to be a great chice through the years. After that said, the names pop by themselves: Adonis, Amin Maalouf, Tahar Ben Jelloun, Assia Djebar, Boualem Sansaal, Elias Khoury. I don't know if there is any Egyptian big name that could join this list.

I think that Alaa al-ASWANI will be the "big" Egyptian name that could join the list in the nexf few yaers!...

Stewart
03-Sep-2011, 00:58
Alain ROBBE-GRILLET (1922-2008) never was considering as a potential candidate to the Nobel.
On what authority do you say this? The other four candidates (of the final five) each year are not revealed for fifty years after the recipient is announced. Therefore, we will not know for many years who was and who, then, was not seriously considered for the Nobel Prize. Since we're in the dark on this one, it's a bit of a folly to say with such certainty who was and who was not considered for this prize. The only two certainties of nomination we have are those recognised to date and those revealed records reaching back half a century and more. Three, if you count the subversive professor who happily announces their initial vote for Bob Dylan; there's one every year.

Stiffelio
03-Sep-2011, 05:42
In 1985, when the Nobel went to Claude Simon the hope of the rest of noveau roman representatives were frozen. Authors at that time alive like Nathalie Sarraute, Allain Robbe Grillet and the already mentioned Michel Tournier saw their chances vanish.

I would not consider Michel Tournier as part of the noveau roman at all. His aesthtics were radically different (he was a germanofile and a devout catholic), and so was his style.

kpjayan
03-Sep-2011, 06:48
Milan Kundera would be a solid choice too, in my opinion, even if he essentially only wrote one novel, many times.

That's a pretty strong comment, but I tend to agree with you to an extend.. His later novels have been sort of repetitive ( ignorance, slowness, identity etc). I like him for his non-fiction books these days. He is a perennial candidate for Nobel, though. Kundera, Eco, Fuentus and Kadare continue to be in the list year after year.

liehtzu
03-Sep-2011, 07:38
I'm with Liam. This seems to be a very myopic point-of-view, especially with regards to Japanese filmmakers. You don't seem to know anything about cinema. Are you talking about age or the years that they have been active in? Off the top of my head, major filmmakers who have been working and making important films during the last four decades include Miike Takashi, Kurosawa Kiyoshi, Koreeda Hirokazu, Kitano Takeshi, Miyazaki Hayao. Great young filmmakers include Hashiguchi, Sono, Shinkai. Seriously, do you have any idea what you're talking about?

As for authors, why is Murakami the only Japanese writer people seem capable of talking about? Yamada Eimi, Tanikawa Shuntaro, and Ito Hiromi (who does not translate well into English) are better writers and definitely more deserving of the prize than Murakami. And Ogawa Yoko's writing career looks very promising. Maybe in a few more years.

Indeed, simply living in another country or speaking its language does not mean that you really know anything about it.

My comment was, if you go back and read carefully, AS FAR AS I KNOW the country hasn't produced a major writer or filmmaker in the last four decades.

Here are some major filmmakers: Kurosawa, Ozu, Naruse, Mizoguchi, Imamura. If you think the filmmakers you mention are major - though I concede that my not counting Miyazaki as major is due to a bias against animation more than anything else - your definition of what constitutes major is somewhat looser than mine. Miike Takashi? "Beat" Takeshi? Either you are hopping insane or your humor is too subtle for me, my good man or woman. Frankly, I'm surprised that with forty years to play with your list is so loaded with filmmakers who appeared in the last twenty. Fetch further back and you might come across, say Itami Juzo, who's certainly a hell of a lot worthier of your consideration than Misters Miike and Kitano.

Now here are some major writers: Kawabata, Mishima, Soseki, Inoue, Tanizaki. Ogawa Yoko is not a major writer by a very long shot. Yamada and Ito I have not read - and here I would like to add that I would happily be proven wrong in my sweeping generalization, because I take no delight in feeling that a country that has produced so many major artists has not done so for such a long time.

I would like you to consider very carefully when Mr. Tanikawa began publishing. Here, I'll help: Tanikawa’s first book collection, Twenty Billion Light Years of Loneliness, was published in 1952 when the poet was 21.

I'll also add to the wonderfully perceptive comment on Oe Kenzaburo made by another poster with a lazily snatched bit from Wikipedia:

After his first student works set in his own university milieu, in the late 1950s he produced several works (such as 飼育 (Shiiku), known as 'The Catch', 'Prize Stock', or 'Prize Catch', made into a film by Nagisa Oshima) and Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nip_the_Buds,_Shoot_the_Kids)) focusing on young children living in Arcadian (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arcadia_(utopia)) transformations of Ōe's own rural Shikoku (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shikoku) childhood.

Now let us go back to the phrasing of my comment. I wrote that as far as I know Japan has not produced a major writer (or filmmaker) in the last four decades - meaning that no truly earthshaking literary or cinematic talent has appeared over that time, insofar as I know. The year is now 2011. Subtract forty years. That's 1971, if I'm not mistaken, though math is not my forte. Now go back up to the time references in the snippets above. Mr. Oe: the late 1950s. Mr. Tanikawa: 1952. Both of these men are major writers who began publishing well prior to 1971.

Stevie B
03-Sep-2011, 09:25
"Beat" Takeshi?

Beat Takeshi's film "Hana-Bi" (Fireworks) got very strong reviews when it was released in 1997. This surprised me at the time because I only knew him as a TV talent who often drew on his face with black marker and engaged in juvenile comic sketches. When I later saw the film, I thought it had been wildly overrated. To me, the Quentin Tarantino influence was unmistakable as well as disappointing since I would also apply the adjective "overrated" to the American director.

Caodang
03-Sep-2011, 11:13
Uemarasan, please let us know how you think about Banana Yoshimoto's chances as Nobel contender. She's translated a lot here in Vietnam and I know there's something like Bananamania going on in many countries.

liehtzu
03-Sep-2011, 11:46
Caodang: I don't think Ms. Yoshimoto is considered a Nobel candidate. I DID earlier toss in the name Dương Thu Hương as a potential winner. When I lived in Vietnam (about four years ago now) I didn't meet anyone who'd ever heard of her. At the time most, if not all, of her novels were banned by the government. I wonder if you know if that's still the case.

Eric
03-Sep-2011, 12:29
Liehtzu asks an interesting question about this mysterious Duong Thu Huong. I don't think that most of here know much about her, so maybe Caodang can say more. Surely Vietnam is a democratic country now and wouldn't go around banning writers. Britain has had writers from both the far Right and the far Left politically who are not in line with what goes on in the Houses of Parliament. But the technique used in Western countries is to ignore such authors rather than ban them. Banning a writer just makes them more interesting.

Caodang
03-Sep-2011, 18:20
Sadly, Duong Thu Huong is still banned and we simply have no way to say whether or how long the government will go on with this. And liehtzu is right: apart from a tiny circle of "hommes de lettres", virtually nobody in Viernam can tell you who she is. This said, I've read some of her books and I must say that I don't think or feel she's that brilliant as a literary talent. It won't be much inspiring if the Swedes give Nobel to her mainly in honour of her being "dissident" or something.
As far as Banana Yoshimoto is concerned, I've read some novels of hers and I don't think she can be considered a Nobel candidate either. She's good, maybe very good, but no way near as excellent, brilliant, "stunning" like, say, Krasznahorkai. What's interesting here is, if my memory doesn't betray me, Banana herself once said she'll earn Nobel someday :)

Septularisen
03-Sep-2011, 21:33
On what authority do you say this? The other four candidates (of the final five) each year are not revealed for fifty years after the recipient is announced. Therefore, we will not know for many years who was and who, then, was not seriously considered for the Nobel Prize. Since we're in the dark on this one, it's a bit of a folly to say with such certainty who was and who was not considered for this prize. The only two certainties of nomination we have are those recognised to date and those revealed records reaching back half a century and more. Three, if you count the subversive professor who happily announces their initial vote for Bob Dylan; there's one every year.

You are absolutely right... This series of names is of course made ​​only on speculation and rumors and duplication of surveys at the time. I do not pretend that this list is neither complete nor completely it is just ...

Septularisen
03-Sep-2011, 21:39
I would not consider Michel Tournier as part of the noveau roman at all. His aesthtics were radically different (he was a germanofile and a devout catholic), and so was his style.

Correct Michel TOURNIER was ans is never considering a member of the "Nouveau Roman".
All the authors of the "Nouveau Roman" (Marguerite DURAS, Claude SIMON, Allain ROBBE-GRILLET...)are on the origin published in France by "Les Editions de Minuit", Michel TOURNIER was fron the start publishing by "Gallimard"...

Septularisen
03-Sep-2011, 21:49
In 1985, when the Nobel went to Claude Simon the hope of the rest of noveau roman representatives were frozen. Authors at that time alive like Nathalie Sarraute, Allain Robbe Grillet and the already mentioned Michel Tournier saw their chances vanish. After many years the Academy went back to France with Le Clezio

Sorry but not really correct as the Nobel Prize in year 2000 awarded to Gao XINGJIANG, bornin China, but French citizen when he received the Prize...

Eric
03-Sep-2011, 22:04
The danger with this frenzied, but rather exciting, thread is that when the usual suspects have been suggested about eight times each, people start looking for someone from a country that wasn't expected to be in the race. The Nobel Prize for Literature cannot be anything else than Eurocentric, because not only are all the judges Europeans, but they belong to that nine-million-strong nation, Sweden. You can't expect all the judges on the literature committee of that organisation all to read ten different sets of languages from around the world. All the candidates' work is filtered through several languages, all of which are European ones. If Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, or Africa want a literary prize of their own, where the bias is not towards Europe and the West, then they will have to finance one themselves.

Having the Nobel awarded from a small nation does avoid the hubris of a huge one, but it might be noted that the People's Republic of Vietnam has about the same population as Germany, around 80 million people. Why is it that we never hear more about Vietnamese literature, while German literature, despite the cataclysm of Nazism, is still one of the most visible literatures in the whole world?

Is Vietnam devoid of good writers, or is it simply that the government, being about as liberal as that of China, is smothering every talent?

anchomal
03-Sep-2011, 23:07
Sorry but not really correct as the Nobel Prize in year 2000 awarded to Gao XINGJIANG, bornin China, but French citizen when he received the Prize...

Citizen, maybe, but writing in Chinese. I can't see that France can lay much claim on this one...

Daniel del Real
03-Sep-2011, 23:25
Citizen, maybe, but writing in Chinese. I can't see that France can lay much claim on this one...

Agree, he can't be considered a French writer because it's not the country he was born neither the language in which he writes. Of course it was easier for him to be noticed by living in France, but that doesn't make him a French writer more than a Chinese.

liehtzu
04-Sep-2011, 01:33
Sadly, Duong Thu Huong is still banned and we simply have no way to say whether or how long the government will go on with this. And liehtzu is right: apart from a tiny circle of "hommes de lettres", virtually nobody in Viernam can tell you who she is. This said, I've read some of her books and I must say that I don't think or feel she's that brilliant as a literary talent. It won't be much inspiring if the Swedes give Nobel to her mainly in honour of her being "dissident" or something.
As far as Banana Yoshimoto is concerned, I've read some novels of hers and I don't think she can be considered a Nobel candidate either. She's good, maybe very good, but no way near as excellent, brilliant, "stunning" like, say, Krasznahorkai. What's interesting here is, if my memory doesn't betray me, Banana herself once said she'll earn Nobel someday :)

Let's hope Ms. Banana was joking. Dương has the advantage of being esteemed by the French (chevalier de l'ordre des Arts et des Lettres) who, for better or worse, still largely define culture in the European sphere. I've only read two of her novels, both of which impressed me as having taken a lot of courage to write (even today, in Vietnam, in the supposedly more open society, I imagine a writer would get in a great deal of trouble for Beyond Illusions and Paradise of the Blind) and for their quality of illumination, if not for their purely literary merits. Still, the award has gone to those who weren't the greatest literary craftsmen(women), because they were courageous, clear-sighted, and honest - which I don't think is necessarily a bad thing.

Dương's bitter truth is of a different order than that of Mr. Krasznahorkai László (and of his filmmaker protege, Tarr Béla), a writer who may have more attractive literary qualities - he can undoubtedly fashion a superb sentence - but whose lugubrious prose is entirely at the service of telling us that people are beastly and the world is a gloomy, gloomy place. I imagine that many of us who make the effort to trudge through one of his novels do indeed feel the vindication afterward of our suspicion that people are indeed beastly and the world is indeed a gloomy, gloomy place, that resistance is a melancholy proposition indeed, so why should we even bother? But the darkness of a writer like Dương is not the darkness of defeatism or fashionable nihilism; it's the pain of a former true believer who sees how the cause has betrayed her, it's a sadness shot through with anger that nonetheless has some faith in and love for humanity and that still holds the slightest flicker of hope.

Moving on, I wonder if you feel that any current Vietnamese writers are Nobel-worthy. I admit that I'm not too familiar with Vietnamese literature - despite having lived there for two and a half years! - but it's really a matter of a dearth of quality translations more than anything else. What do you think of Nguyễn Huy Thiệp?

Liam
04-Sep-2011, 03:05
You know, L, I've been dying to ask you: how many languages have you picked up on your prolonged sojourn in southeast Asia? Eric seems to learn the language of each and every country he lives in, you must have at least two under your belt at this point??? I don't understand why you're still relying on translation(s)--instead of reading just two novels by this Vietnamese author, why don't you learn Vietnamese and read all of them, and then maybe translate some of them for the sake of the rest of us?

Caodang
04-Sep-2011, 04:48
Having the Nobel awarded from a small nation does avoid the hubris of a huge one, but it might be noted that the People's Republic of Vietnam has about the same population as Germany, around 80 million people. Why is it that we never hear more about Vietnamese literature, while German literature, despite the cataclysm of Nazism, is still one of the most visible literatures in the whole world?

Is Vietnam devoid of good writers, or is it simply that the government, being about as liberal as that of China, is smothering every talent?

I've read some more "obscure" Vietnamese writers, among them quite young ones, and, at least as far as my modest opinion counts something, I think they definitely deserve more attention, both in the country (being more "experimental", more "subversive", or simply much bolder than their "mainstream" colleagues, they're not that more widely known than Ms. Duong Thu Huong) and abroad.

To answer Eric's question, I don't think Vietnam is devoid of good writers. The reason why their voices cannot be more widely heard lays not only with the government which is so eager in smothering any "subversive", potential "dangerous" talent. On one hand, maybe they themselves are not self-confident enough - they bind themselves in those chains called "what writing befits writers from peripheral countries". More specifically, they're "obssessed with reality", rarely do any of them dare to think that they also can write, say, good sci-fi, or a "great book tackling serious, universal truths" if they really want it and try really hard. On the other hand, they're not or not adequately/properly translated - nobody pays enough attention to this task or gives it enough dedication. The Vietnam's government has a plan of "introducing Vietnamese writers to the world", of course, but really dedicated writers hardly believe in any State's program of this kind: too often they're smeared with the petty, non-literary concerns of those directly running and implementing them.

Caodang
04-Sep-2011, 05:21
Let's hope Ms. Banana was joking. Dương has the advantage of being esteemed by the French (chevalier de l'ordre des Arts et des Lettres) who, for better or worse, still largely define culture in the European sphere. I've only read two of her novels, both of which impressed me as having taken a lot of courage to write (even today, in Vietnam, in the supposedly more open society, I imagine a writer would get in a great deal of trouble for Beyond Illusions and Paradise of the Blind) and for their quality of illumination, if not for their purely literary merits. Still, the award has gone to those who weren't the greatest literary craftsmen(women), because they were courageous, clear-sighted, and honest - which I don't think is necessarily a bad thing.

Dương's bitter truth is of a different order than that of Mr. Krasznahorkai László (and of his filmmaker protege, Tarr Béla), a writer who may have more attractive literary qualities - he can undoubtedly fashion a superb sentence - but whose lugubrious prose is entirely at the service of telling us that people are beastly and the world is a gloomy, gloomy place. I imagine that many of us who make the effort to trudge through one of his novels do indeed feel the vindication afterward of our suspicion that people are indeed beastly and the world is indeed a gloomy, gloomy place, that resistance is a melancholy proposition indeed, so why should we even bother? But the darkness of a writer like Dương is not the darkness of defeatism or fashionable nihilism; it's the pain of a former true believer who sees how the cause has betrayed her, it's a sadness shot through with anger that nonetheless has some faith in and love for humanity and that still holds the slightest flicker of hope.

Moving on, I wonder if you feel that any current Vietnamese writers are Nobel-worthy. I admit that I'm not too familiar with Vietnamese literature - despite having lived there for two and a half years! - but it's really a matter of a dearth of quality translations more than anything else. What do you think of Nguyễn Huy Thiệp?

I agree with your points on Duong's merits as being "courageous, clear-sighted, and honest". And of course it's not a bad thing that a prize of Nobel caliber sometimes goes or should go to these men/women. Sometimes the humankind simply needs that - some form of highest recognition of several of their bravest and most conscientious members. This does not, however, stop me to believe that the Nobel prize will be much more appreciated if it goes to a writer who is both highly courageous (or socially-committed, for that matter), and extraordinarily talented when it comes to "purely literary" merits.

Your analysis of the difference between Krasznahorkai's darkness and that of Duong is quite insightful and profound, I have nothing against it. I'm aware of K. darkness (as well as Mr. Thomas Bernhard's one). I'm in love with K.'s sheer narrative force, its mesmerizing and sweeping momentum, and, to be honest, I share his dark view of the humankind. Too pessimistic, maybe, but the ways things in the whole world go, what can I do :(

Concerning the last point, I must admit I don't see any Vietnamese writers who are Nobel-worthy. There are quite good ones, yes, but if we're talking about highest standards (and here we're talking only of the standards typical of obviously worthy Nobel laureates up to this moment, leaving aside the more "controversial" ones), maybe they're "too thin". Nguyễn Huy Thiệp is a good case. He's written quite good short stories which made his name (which I myself loved a lot when they first appeared some 15, 20 years ago), but then he seemed to have depleted himself, coming up with mediocre novels that his usual readership received lukewarmly, disappointed.

adaorardor
04-Sep-2011, 08:42
Let's hope Ms. Banana was joking. Dương has the advantage of being esteemed by the French (chevalier de l'ordre des Arts et des Lettres) who, for better or worse, still largely define culture in the European sphere. I've only read two of her novels, both of which impressed me as having taken a lot of courage to write (even today, in Vietnam, in the supposedly more open society, I imagine a writer would get in a great deal of trouble for Beyond Illusions and Paradise of the Blind) and for their quality of illumination, if not for their purely literary merits. Still, the award has gone to those who weren't the greatest literary craftsmen(women), because they were courageous, clear-sighted, and honest - which I don't think is necessarily a bad thing.

Dương's bitter truth is of a different order than that of Mr. Krasznahorkai László (and of his filmmaker protege, Tarr Béla), a writer who may have more attractive literary qualities - he can undoubtedly fashion a superb sentence - but whose lugubrious prose is entirely at the service of telling us that people are beastly and the world is a gloomy, gloomy place. I imagine that many of us who make the effort to trudge through one of his novels do indeed feel the vindication afterward of our suspicion that people are indeed beastly and the world is indeed a gloomy, gloomy place, that resistance is a melancholy proposition indeed, so why should we even bother? But the darkness of a writer like Dương is not the darkness of defeatism or fashionable nihilism; it's the pain of a former true believer who sees how the cause has betrayed her, it's a sadness shot through with anger that nonetheless has some faith in and love for humanity and that still holds the slightest flicker of hope.

Moving on, I wonder if you feel that any current Vietnamese writers are Nobel-worthy. I admit that I'm not too familiar with Vietnamese literature - despite having lived there for two and a half years! - but it's really a matter of a dearth of quality translations more than anything else. What do you think of Nguyễn Huy Thiệp?

Krasznahorkai's prose is genius, it is in no way shape or form "lugubrious." And it is certainly not "entirely in the service of" any message as simplistic as the one you attribute to him. Did you actually read The Melancholy of Resistance to the end? I don't find the book nihilistic at all. I would also, in assessing these matters, caution against identifying Krasznahorkai's novel too closely with the film Bela Tarr based on it: these are two separate works and are, I think, quite different in many ways.

anchomal
04-Sep-2011, 12:24
As Gao Xingjian has been mentioned on the thread, does anyone have any knowledge of Chinese writers who might be in with a shout this year. Bei Dao is often spoken of as a possible contender, and this year's International Booker Prize shortlisted two, Wang Anyi and Su Tong (who has won the Asian Booker). Mo Yan (who, according to Wikipedia, has also been nominated for the Neustadt Prize) is another who seems to be highly regarded and who has been widely translated.
Has anyone here read any of these writers, or know of any others who might be worth mentioning? China is such an immense country, with such a rich history. Are we missing out on some great writers?

Caodang
04-Sep-2011, 14:03
Can Xue, a highly experimental, very interesting writer, compared by some critics to Kafka, although maybe still a bit lightweight for Nobel nomination. Yu Hua, whose novel 'To live' was adapted for film by Zhang Yimou. A bit too young, however (born 1960). Both of them need more time to develop and prove themselves, perhaps.

Eric
04-Sep-2011, 15:51
What Liehtzu said in #350 made me think that all those lugubrious types, such as Lars von Trier and, says Liehzu, Krasznahorkai can afford to be gloomy and apocalyptic, because they live in the West and are pampered by the moody and fickle critics there. When you are up against an undemocratic government that uses censorship and imprisonment to discourage criticism, even in the form of fiction, then you are living in a totally different situation.

So people from some countries would have to think twice before accepting a Nobel prize for peace of literature, as they might themselves in permanent exile, or prison afterwards. (Trumped up charges are dead easy to concoct in totalitarian states.)

Gao Xingjian is one of those Nobel Laureates that you never hear anything about nowadays. At least I've not seen any big articles on him in the publications I read, on the internet or in paper copies. Is he still a big name in France?

China may be a great country and full of history, but one of the reasons that we miss out on Chinese literature in the West is probably because of the totalitarian nature of their cultural policy which amounts, basically, to that anything critical of the Chinese government and its policy is censored. And people say that it is impossible to access internet articles on, for instance Tianenman Square in any language from China. So you can't wholly blame Western indifference to Chinese literature on racism, xenophobia, Eurocentrism, and the usual culprits. Maybe the Chinese authorities are shooting themselves in the foot.

We haven't had an enormous number of articles about contemporary mainland Chinese literature here on the WLF either.

Mr. Search
05-Sep-2011, 04:27
Portuguese writer Lobo Antunes is a very strong candidate. When the Swedish Academy awarded the Nobel to G. Grass, they mentioned 4 eminent figures of contemporary novel: Kenzaburo Oe, Salman Rushdie,Garcia Marquez, N. Gordimer and A. Lobo Antunes. Three of these writers were also recognized by the Academy. Lobo Antunes seems to me a pretty serious name. A new novel by him is going to be published in Portugal (Comissao das lagrimas) at the end of September...several of his works are available in Swedish. In the last couple of years new translations have also been published in English in the US. Steiner considers him the heir of Faulkner and Conrad.
Saramago, the only Nobel laureate of the Portuguese language, affirmed that no Nobel would be given to another Portuguese writer while he was alive. Well,...now maybe so.

liehtzu
05-Sep-2011, 06:08
Caodang and adaorardor:

I do not think Mr. Krasznahorkai is without value. I have sympathy with his point of view. When he says the following in an interview:

I was born into a predicament and a country where a person accursed with a heightened aesthetic and moral sensitivity like me simply cannot survive.

...he describes exactly how I feel in the United States. However, even he doesn't deny the interviewer's labelling of his work as "gloomy".

(The interview is here, by the way: http://www.hlo.hu/news/there_isn_t_anything_anywhere_any_more).

It is not a matter of disliking slow or complex books. It's simply that I don't see slow complexity as a natural marker of greatness. Read a "simple" writer like, say, Kawabata (as Caodang might perhaps be inclined to do) and here we have a writer who would use darts where another would use a canon to accomplish the same ends. All the melancholy of a Krasznahorkai, but at a third the size, done with far more artistry, says I (I emphasize that we are talking matters of taste here). Kawabata is one of the least reassuring writers out there, but there is such control to the prose - even in translation - such an ability to say so much, to insinuate so much, in so few words (fundamentally: a grace and a subtlety that is lost in most modern writers, Japanese or otherwise), that one is struck by the sheer beauty of the desolation. There is, you might say, a reward for Kawabata's gently crushing world-view. Krasznahorkai's world-view crushes like a steamroller, and though some readers might find that steamroller vindicating or liberating, and others find reward in reading sentences that unfurl at such great lengths that one forgets what the subject was at the start of that sentence, and has to re-read the sentence two or three times to "get" it (and even after the extra efforts, sometimes remaining lost), I do not. With rare exceptions I find exceptionally long sentences exceptionally annoying. Paul Claudel immediately come to mind as one who can pull off such a difficult feat.

I mention Claudel because I've just been flipping through some of his art criticism, and it is easy to see why he works for me where Krasznahorkai fails: Claudel's sentences unroll like sentences that initially intended to be of reasonable length, but then the author remembered something else that was vital to the point contained within that sentence, a point that would weaken somehow if made a sentence on its own, and these oh-and-another-things continue to edge the sentence towards an absurd, paragraph-sized block, but the difference is that Claudel is reaching for more praise to lavish on Vermeer, he can't help but voice some poetic image when he thinks of the great painting before him, he can't stop another associated poetic image from barking at the first's heels. In the same sense that I trudge through the admittedly well-wrought but leaden words of Krasznahorkai, and laboriously go back to the start of an endless sentence because I've forgotten or been unable to follow the thread, I gladly re-read the glorious sentences of Claudel on Vermeer because I am infected with the author's delight even when I don't know the painting to which he's referring. Claudel is no less complex a writer than Krasznahorkai, but he writes from a place of affection, and it makes all the difference.

To try to decipher Krasznahorkai when he feels the urge to be obscure is a kind of duty I feel, but it is not a pleasant one - but for all that I would accept unpleasant duty if I feel that what the author has to communicate is worth the struggle. Now, the claims for Krasznahorkai are so great (on this forum across the board, and Susan Sontag, and James Wood, and W. G. Sebald) that it is undoubtedly a failing on my part that his greatness eludes me. I am not saying I would put off trying my hand at another one of his books in the future, but amongst writers I would read again (and there are so many books, and life is so short!) he would fall rather low on the list.

I too have a tendency towards pessimism that I wrestle with. But one can sink into gloom to the point where it can become a posture - one becomes defined by one's bitterness, and nothing else. The observation that the world is rotten and life is meaningless and empty has become more than a touch trite by now. Things may be a mess, but as far as I'm concerned the great artists are the ones who resist what Alexander Solzhenitsyn, in his Nobel speech called the desire to "impart to the world our bitter, detached observations: how mankind has become hopelessly corrupt, how men have degenerated, and how difficult it is for the few beautiful and refined souls to live amongst them." It may amount to the proverbial finger in the cracking dam, but it's something.

I'll end this (too long, I know!) explanation of mine with a quote by E. M. Cioran, among the gloomiest of writers, and another I often find hard to stomach, on the French poet Saint-John Perse. I think it's instructive:

There are poets whose help we seek in our will-to-wane; we want them to encourage our gainsaying, to aggravate our stupor, our vice... There are other poets, more difficult to access because they do not espouse our rancors and our obsessions... When we are overcome by ourselves, and still more by our cries, when that eminently modern craving to protest and to assert our rights assumes the gravity of a sin, what a comfort to encounter a mind that never falls into such ways, that retreats from the vulgarity of revolt!

Liam:

I have not mastered any of the languages of the countries in which I've lived for two reasons. 1) I have this damned restless nature, and so have never lived in a country long enough to master the language and 2) I am hopelessly lazy. I know, or have known, enough to get by in Korean, Vietnamese, Chinese, Thai, Lao, and Japanese, but past the "enough to get by" point I unfortunately taper off. Laziness, lack of discipline. No kinder way to put it. One day, when I find a place (I'd like to add that I have a terrible grass-is-greener mindset) that I'd like to stay put in, well, maybe then...!

Bubba
05-Sep-2011, 07:35
Nice post, Liehtzu, but I'm not so sure I would be as quick and as gentlemanly as you to impute Krasznahorkai's failure to strike me as great to an "undoubted" failing of my own!

Caodang
05-Sep-2011, 08:26
Thank you, Liehtzu, for your very nice post. I do love it :) It says so beautifully about the subtlety and grace with which a writer like Kawabata (who, you're right - so acute is your instinct! - one of my favourite authors) "gently enfolds his crushing world-view". I believe it's something more related to personal taste here that you do not "feel" Krasznahorkai the similar way as I do: hardly do I have to reread his sentences. Generally speaking, I don't have much problem with novelists who love long and very, very long sentences and page-long paragraphs: Bernhard, Saramago and Hermann Broch (his "Death of Virgil" comes to mind). Once again, I must emphasize, it's a matter of personal taste. And, as for "a mind that never falls into such ways, that retreats from the vulgarity of revolt!", I do think such a mind is embodied in the character of Valushka, "the only incorruptible soul in the whole world of The Melancholy of Resistance", and no matter what tragic doom befell him, the mere fact that such a person exists is enough for me to feel some warmth and even some embers of a not-yet-dying hope (to use a worn-out metaphor :)) in the depth of my heart.

All in all, I love your post, Liehtzu. This is one definite indicator of your literature knowledge and aesthetic insight.

Septularisen
05-Sep-2011, 09:26
Agree, he can't be considered a French writer because it's not the country he was born neither the language in which he writes. Of course it was easier for him to be noticed by living in France, but that doesn't make him a French writer more than a Chinese.

I disagree with that. If you are French when you receive the Nobel... you are a French writer!...
Please mote that when he receives the Nobel Prize in 2000, he lived in France since... 1988, and had received the title of "Knight of the order of Arts and letters" in 1992.
He is still device as French writer in the list of the winners of the Nobel, the evidence is that everyone says that China is still waiting for his Nobel...

Septularisen
05-Sep-2011, 09:34
.

Gao Xingjian is one of those Nobel Laureates that you never hear anything about nowadays. At least I've not seen any big articles on him in the publications I read, on the internet or in paper copies. Is he still a big name in France?

It is true that the author was very discreet in recent years...
However his work is always of prime importance. I advise you to read, "Soul Montain" (Andarnas berg / övers. av Göran Malmqvist. – Stockholm: Forum, 1992.) if you have not already done!...

anchomal
05-Sep-2011, 10:47
I disagree with that. If you are French when you receive the Nobel... you are a French writer!...
Please mote that when he receives the Nobel Prize in 2000, he lived in France since... 1988, and had received the title of "Knight of the order of Arts and letters" in 1992.
He is still device as French writer in the list of the winners of the Nobel, the evidence is that everyone says that China is still waiting for his Nobel...

From the Nobel Prize statement:
"for an oeuvre of universal validity, bitter insights and linguistic ingenuity, which has opened new paths for the Chinese novel and drama"
We have to agree to disagree because, in my view, Gao Xingjian is about as French as Joyce or Hemingway was.

Caodang
05-Sep-2011, 11:23
He's Chinese, it's that simple, at least to me :)

Septularisen
05-Sep-2011, 12:00
From the Nobel Prize statement:
"for an oeuvre of universal validity, bitter insights and linguistic ingenuity, which has opened new paths for the Chinese novel and drama"
We have to agree to disagree because, in my view, Gao Xingjian is about as French as Joyce or Hemingway was.

Ja...

From Wikipedia : Gao Xingjian (born January 4, 1940) is a Chinese (http://www.worldliteratureforum.com/wiki/Zhonghua_Minzu)-born novelist, playwright, critic, and painter. An émigré (http://www.worldliteratureforum.com/wiki/%C3%89migr%C3%A9) to France since 1987, Gao was granted French citizenship in 1997.


and :
Gao's original home town is Taizhou, Jiangsu (http://www.worldliteratureforum.com/wiki/Taizhou,_Jiangsu). Born in Ganzhou (http://www.worldliteratureforum.com/wiki/Ganzhou), Jiangxi, China, Gao has been a French citizen since 1997. In 1992 he was awarded the Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (http://www.worldliteratureforum.com/wiki/Ordre_des_Arts_et_des_Lettres) by the French government.


Anyway we can continue this discussion for a decade... This is a question of point of view... But for me if you are French citizen when you receive the Nobel Prize.. you are a French author...
As neighbor from France I can garanty you that the french people is very proud to have this great author as citizen...

But OK... better we have a conversation with more focus on the 2011 Litterature Nobel Prize...

liehtzu
05-Sep-2011, 12:03
From the Nobel Prize statement:
"for an oeuvre of universal validity, bitter insights and linguistic ingenuity, which has opened new paths for the Chinese novel and drama"
We have to agree to disagree because, in my view, Gao Xingjian is about as French as Joyce or Hemingway was.

Aside from certain modernistic devices, there is nothing French about Mr. Gao, and those devices are really rooted far more in Chinese folklore than in European-style surrealism. I'm thinking mostly of Soul Mountain, which is easily the better of his two published novels (though One Man's Bible is no cream puff). It was only when reading the book the second time, while traveling through remote regions of southwest China, that it really bowled me over. You have to be able to visualize the landscapes and the people he talking about, I think, to get the full flavor of the novel. I didn't meet a single person in China, including several well-read men and women, who'd ever heard of Gao Xingjian or knew that a Chinese had won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Welcome to state-controlled media service. Though I wonder if an American won it, especially a lesser-known name, just how much air time he or she'd get on Fox News...

If another Chinese writer gets it, it will be Bei Dao or Duo Duo, the poets, rather than novelist Mo Yan. Mo Yan writes great carnivalesque rice wine-drenched novels about those living in grinding poverty, heaped with violence, sex, and mayhem, which may be compared to the early Gunter Grass in their roar and their social criticism. It's not the sort of thing that generally wins, though old Gunter did get it eventually...


It says so beautifully about the subtlety and grace with which a writer like Kawabata (who, you're right - so acute is your instinct! - one of my favourite authors)

I can't for the life of me think of why I assumed Kawabata was one of your favorite writers. Must be telepathy.


Nice post, Liehtzu, but I'm not so sure I would be as quick and as gentlemanly as you to impute Krasznahorkai's failure to strike me as great to an "undoubted" failing of my own!

I loathe the smiley face, so it's sometimes hard to tell when I'm winking.

Rumpelstilzchen
05-Sep-2011, 14:35
Anyway we can continue this discussion for a decade... This is a question of point of view... But for me if you are French citizen when you receive the Nobel Prize.. you are a French author...
As neighbor from France I can garanty you that the french people is very proud to have this great author as citizen...


The relevant aspect (from a literature point of view) is of course not the citizenship but what literature you are contributing to. He could have equally well gone to any other western country, would not have changed his works a single bit. It is a bit ridiculous. Mainly interesting for politicians and the lot...

Furthermore I cannot understand how you could be proud of an author, who is not writing in your language but just living in your country and who is having his origins completely elsewhere. I cannot follow such a concept at all in gerneal even for writers from your own country writing in your own language. I cannot really understand all of this nationality business with respect to literature. Who cares if he has the French citizenship or any other? I mean you can be proud to live in a country that was so nice to grant him the citizenship and so on, but apart from that? Why should I be proud of the fact that my country produced authors like Grass or Mann? I do not see any connection to myself as a person.

Eric
05-Sep-2011, 14:44
I must say that the quality of Wikipedia articles varies enormously. Both the Swedish and English articles on Lobo Antunes are what could be termed "bloody useless", given the fact that this would probably be the first place any Nobel committee member might look for a quick overview. Only the Portuguese Wikipedia gives a proper summary of what he has done and introduces concepts such as style.

giggs85
05-Sep-2011, 14:49
My favourites:
Krasznahorkai László
Antonio Lobo Antunes
Cormac McCarthy
Thomas Pynchon
Christoph Ransmayr
Per Olov Enquist
Cees Nooteboom
Kjell Askildsen

Eric
05-Sep-2011, 14:53
In #359, Liehtzu does make a patient and logical case for why he disapproves of Krasznahorkai. This author is also being insincere and misleading when he says, as quoted by Liehtzu:

I was born into a predicament and a country where a person accursed with a heightened aesthetic and moral sensitivity like me simply cannot survive.

He is being most narcissistic, and seems to forget all the other Hungarian authors that have not only met with success in Hungary, but have been translated to good effect, such as Nádas, Szabó, Esterházy, and many others. Liehtzu does appear to suggest that he writes long-windedly and with an element of self-absorption - which he himself attributes to his utter sensitivity.

Septularisen
05-Sep-2011, 14:55
I do not see any connection to myself as a person.

I agree with you but... then why you stay in this Forum and try to catch the next Litterature Nobel Prize?
Do you see any connection between the 2011 Litterature Nobel Prize and "youself as a person"?

Septularisen
05-Sep-2011, 14:57
I must say that the quality of Wikipedia articles varies enormously. Both the Swedish and English articles on Lobo Antunes are what could be termed "bloody useless", given the fact that this would probably be the first place any Nobel committee member might look for a quick overview. Only the Portuguese Wikipedia gives a proper summary of what he has done and introduces concepts such as style.

I still continue to say that Antonio LOBO-ANTUNES is one of the great favourites this year!...

Eric
05-Sep-2011, 15:00
I have never read a word of Gao Xingjian. But several of you here make a solid case for regarding him as a Chinese, not French, writer: his background, style, and the language he writes in. So the fact he is "parked" in France does not make him a French writer. It is therefore all the more embarrassing and shameful that he remains unknown in his own country, not because he's no good, but because the government has written him off as a nuisance.

Eric
05-Sep-2011, 15:04
Sure, Septularisen, #373. But unless you are one of those professors lucky enough to have sent things to the Nobel committee warmly recommending Antunes and explaining why he is good, or sit on the Nobel committee yourself, you are not likely to be able to promote your views on Antunes to the people who count.

giggs85
05-Sep-2011, 15:34
In #359, Liehtzu does make a patient and logical case for why he disapproves of Krasznahorkai. This author is also being insincere and misleading when he says, as quoted by Liehtzu:

I was born into a predicament and a country where a person accursed with a heightened aesthetic and moral sensitivity like me simply cannot survive.

He is being most narcissistic, and seems to forget all the other Hungarian authors that have not only met with success in Hungary, but have been translated to good effect, such as Nádas, Szabó, Esterházy, and many others. Liehtzu does appear to suggest that he writes long-windedly and with an element of self-absorption - which he himself attributes to his utter sensitivity.


Krasznahorkai has some bad opinion about Hungary, but he said if born somewhere else, ha can't be this person, and can't write. -
Because I'm hungarian I've read most of his interviews. So I don't think that he is too narcissistic. It's one part of him.
But I'm sure he is one of the greatest novelist ever. It's fact.
Magda Szabó died.
Nádas and Esterházy is friend of postcommunist regime, and they said a lot of ugly thing about their home. So they are as a man are not good. Realy not.

Rumpelstilzchen
05-Sep-2011, 15:47
In #359, Liehtzu does make a patient and logical case for why he disapproves of Krasznahorkai. This author is also being insincere and misleading when he says, as quoted by Liehtzu:

I was born into a predicament and a country where a person accursed with a heightened aesthetic and moral sensitivity like me simply cannot survive.

He is being most narcissistic, and seems to forget all the other Hungarian authors that have not only met with success in Hungary, but have been translated to good effect, such as Nádas, Szabó, Esterházy, and many others. Liehtzu does appear to suggest that he writes long-windedly and with an element of self-absorption - which he himself attributes to his utter sensitivity.

I do not think the word "logical" has any sense here. Liehtzu very nicely described why he does not like Krasznahorkai's style/topics personally, this is a matter of taste, not of logics. Furthermore I do not think it makes sense to try to infer anything from a single quote by this author taken out of context. One simply cannot understand fully what he means with this sentence out of context, I guess (I will read the full interview later, thanks to Liehtzu!). Or at least one should not start calling him insincere, narcissistic and so on just on basis of this sentence. I have read two of his books: Satantango, which does not particularly has long sentences on average, and Animalinside, which has page long sentences that are very easy to follow because they are consisting (to a large extent) out of repetitions and variations, i.e. the sentences flow quite nicely.

anchomal
05-Sep-2011, 15:48
Two more names to toss into the pot, Ireland's Edna O'Brien and Scotland's Alisdair Gray. Both have long, distinguished careers and are highly regarded, yet both generally seem to fall under the radar. Gray in particular strikes me as a highly original voice, and is also delightfully eccentric (an added bonus). I've attended a couple of his readings over the years and am always impressed by his casual approach, old wooly sweater and spaint spatter corduroy trousers.
Anyone have any opinions on these two, or on others who don't get mentioned much?

adaorardor
05-Sep-2011, 16:09
Krasznahorkai has some bad opinion about Hungary, but he said if born somewhere else, ha can't be this person, and can't write. -
Because I'm hungarian I've read most of his interviews. So I don't think that he is too narcissistic. It's one part of him.
But I'm sure he is one of the greatest novelist ever. It's fact.
Magda Szabó died.
Nádas and Esterházy is friend of postcommunist regime, and they said a lot of ugly thing about their home. So they are as a man are not good. Realy not.

Lots of bad men are great writers, though. I'd have to agree with you that Krasznahorkai is an all-time great, but Nádas is also. The Bible, The End of a Family Story, A Book of Memories...these are works of genius. Whatever he is like as a person (I can't comment one way or the other), and whether or not he has said ugly things are Hungary.

adaorardor
05-Sep-2011, 16:13
Thank you, Liehtzu, for your very nice post. I do love it :) It says so beautifully about the subtlety and grace with which a writer like Kawabata (who, you're right - so acute is your instinct! - one of my favourite authors) "gently enfolds his crushing world-view". I believe it's something more related to personal taste here that you do not "feel" Krasznahorkai the similar way as I do: hardly do I have to reread his sentences. Generally speaking, I don't have much problem with novelists who love long and very, very long sentences and page-long paragraphs: Bernhard, Saramago and Hermann Broch (his "Death of Virgil" comes to mind). Once again, I must emphasize, it's a matter of personal taste. And, as for "a mind that never falls into such ways, that retreats from the vulgarity of revolt!", I do think such a mind is embodied in the character of Valushka, "the only incorruptible soul in the whole world of The Melancholy of Resistance", and no matter what tragic doom befell him, the mere fact that such a person exists is enough for me to feel some warmth and even some embers of a not-yet-dying hope (to use a worn-out metaphor :)) in the depth of my heart.

All in all, I love your post, Liehtzu. This is one definite indicator of your literature knowledge and aesthetic insight.

Agree with this post. In theory what Liehtzu says makes some sense, but I just don't recognize the straw Krasznahorkai he is constructing, this figure of unremitting gloominess and nihilism who writes lugubrious sentences. That's not an accurate description of The Melancholy of Resistance, the example of Valushka is a good one, not to mention the humor and beauty of the book.

Rumpelstilzchen
05-Sep-2011, 16:19
This reminds me that I should start reading the Melancholy of Resistance soon :). Yes, after having read two of his books (and after having watched most of the films based on his scripts) I do not think nihilism is an appropriate term. Pessimism would be better suited, lots of it, yes, but I do not find much nihilistic about his works so far. Satantango is also full of humor by the way.

Rumpelstilzchen
05-Sep-2011, 16:24
I agree with you but... then why you stay in this Forum and try to catch the next Litterature Nobel Prize?
Do you see any connection between the 2011 Litterature Nobel Prize and "youself as a person"?

I don't understand what you could mean with the second sentence?? :confused:

Just to mention this, the Nobel Prize for Literature is awarded to individuals, not to nations or organisations.

anchomal
05-Sep-2011, 16:25
Gao's original home town is Taizhou, Jiangsu (http://www.worldliteratureforum.com/wiki/Taizhou,_Jiangsu). Born in Ganzhou (http://www.worldliteratureforum.com/wiki/Ganzhou), Jiangxi, China, Gao has been a French citizen since 1997. In 1992 he was awarded the Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (http://www.worldliteratureforum.com/wiki/Ordre_des_Arts_et_des_Lettres) by the French government.

Anyway we can continue this discussion for a decade... This is a question of point of view... But for me if you are French citizen when you receive the Nobel Prize.. you are a French author...

You're right, it is a question of point of view, but from my point of view, the citizenship argument aside (which holds no sway with me), I see nothing French about this writer or his writing. I wonder which the writer considers himself. If he is French, then that would make him the youngest Nobel winner ever, at three years old! Ok, I'll stop now, because these points of view feel a bit pointless, and because, in the end, all that really matters is the writing.

One thing, though... I fail to see why you make anything of Gao Xingjian having been awarded the Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. This, as far as I can tell, has nothing whatsoever to do with citizenship (from a quick wikipedia scan, awardees include the likes of George Clooney, Tim Burton and Julian Barnes).

Daniel del Real
05-Sep-2011, 19:27
Krasznahorkai has some bad opinion about Hungary, but he said if born somewhere else, ha can't be this person, and can't write. -
Because I'm hungarian I've read most of his interviews. So I don't think that he is too narcissistic. It's one part of him.
But I'm sure he is one of the greatest novelist ever. It's fact.
Magda Szabó died.
Nádas and Esterházy is friend of postcommunist regime, and they said a lot of ugly thing about their home. So they are as a man are not good. Realy not.

Magda Szabó was an excellent writer. Last year I picked one of her books in a Madrid library without even knowing her at all and was one the great discoveries of the year. Unfortunately it's not easy to find her books. I wonder why she wasn't more known worldwide. By literary merits I think she could easily been a better contender for the Nobel than Kértesz at the time


I still continue to say that Antonio LOBO-ANTUNES is one of the great favourites this year!...

Great. You can star searching in his genealogy to see if he has any French ancestors so you can claim it for the glorious French republic.

Eric
05-Sep-2011, 22:17
Giggs85, #376. Yes, I heard about how Esterházy wrote a novel about his wonderful dad and then discovered later that his father had been an informer to the secret police in Communist times. Kundera also had a dodgy past in Czechoslovakia, and may have informed on a colleague when young. But all those Central European countries often meant a lot of compromise and collaboration with the authorities if you wanted to get anything published. So probably very few writers who got published during Communist times were saints.

Another writer who is not pure and innocent when it comes to politics is Gabriel García Márquez, who has been a friend of the Communist dictator in Cuba, Fidel Castro, for many years. If a writer is a friend of fascists it is regarded as a major scandal, but authors who mix with totalitarian and repressive Communist leaders are not criticised as much. It's a strange world of doublethink, to use an Orwellian term. Becuase the Communists under Mao, Stalin, Pol Pot, etc., murdered just as many people as the Nazis did under Hitler.

Eric
05-Sep-2011, 22:29
Following on from my last posting, I do think that if you give someone the Nobel, he or she should have a reasonable amount of moral rectitude. It would seem odd to call someone a great writer, and give him the most prestigious literary prize in the world if he was stylistically wonderful, but an embezzler, murderer, burglar, rapist, or confidence trickster in his everyday life.

One instance. A very accomplished Flemish author, and socialist who wrote sincere books about working-class life in Belgium, Louis Paul Boon, was very near to winning the Nobel prize for literature about thirty or forty years ago. But some of his later fantasies, when he got to the "dirty old man" stage, were bordering on paedophilia. The Nobel committee would have been in a funny position giving Boon the prize for his descriptions of worker priests or his life during WWII, while at the same time Boon was publishing, quite openly in the Netherlands, all sorts of fantasy tales some of which are quite as pornographic as a porn mag, and with teenage girls (and younger ones!) starring in fellatial and intercourse roles. I wonder whether the intellectual and moral climate in the rather staid Sweden of the 1960s and 1970s stopped Boon from ever winning the prize on account of his penchant for young girls.

Liam
05-Sep-2011, 22:39
the Communists under Mao, Stalin, Pol Pot, etc., murdered just as many people as the Nazis did under Hitler.Actually, they murdered more: something that doesn't seem to sink in with the so-called "progressive" thinkers.

Eric
05-Sep-2011, 22:56
I didn't want to taunt such "progressive" thinkers, Liam, but have read that somewhere too. There's a nice fat book, originally written in French and translated into many languages called "Le livre noir du communisme - Crimes, terreur et répression", known as "The Black Book of Communism" in several languages.

As for Naughty Paul Boon, the thought struck me: would it have been any better or worse from the Nobel committee point of view if he fancied little boys instead of little girls, I wonder?

anchomal
05-Sep-2011, 23:29
Giggs85, #376. Yes, I heard about how Esterházy wrote a novel about his wonderful dad and then discovered later that his father had been an informer to the secret police in Communist times. Kundera also had a dodgy past in Czechoslovakia, and may have informed on a colleague when young. But all those Central European countries often meant a lot of compromise and collaboration with the authorities if you wanted to get anything published. So probably very few writers who got published during Communist times were saints.

Another writer who is not pure and innocent when it comes to politics is Gabriel García Márquez, who has been a friend of the Communist dictator in Cuba, Fidel Castro, for many years. If a writer is a friend of fascists it is regarded as a major scandal, but authors who mix with totalitarian and repressive Communist leaders are not criticised as much. It's a strange world of doublethink, to use an Orwellian term. Becuase the Communists under Mao, Stalin, Pol Pot, etc., murdered just as many people as the Nazis did under Hitler.

This raises an interesting point, all right. Is it incumbent on a writer to actively voice an opposition to such regimes (Herta Muller's outspoken criticisms of Ceausescu's Romania comes to mind)? And if so, then should writers in countries like America and Britain be shouting from the rooftops over the recent bloody foreign policies of their nations, and is it to their great shame if they do not speak out?

liehtzu
06-Sep-2011, 05:51
Agree with this post. In theory what Liehtzu says makes some sense, but I just don't recognize the straw Krasznahorkai he is constructing, this figure of unremitting gloominess and nihilism who writes lugubrious sentences. That's not an accurate description of The Melancholy of Resistance, the example of Valushka is a good one, not to mention the humor and beauty of the book.

I never claimed to be "logical" in my dislike of Krasznahorkai, and just because I'm less dazzled by him than others here does not mean I feel that anyone who likes him is foolish or stupid, or that my stance is the only correct way of seeing things. I would suggest anyone who is interested read the books and make up their own minds - always the best way to go about business. And given the passionate support the author has received here, I wonder if I did give The Melancholy of Resistance its proper due. There are certain writers whose spell you simply have to fall under, and for those poor souls who aren't mesmerized those writers can be torture. Krasznahorkai waved the magic wand... and I fell asleep. Really, to put it bluntly, I thought the book (as well as the movies he penned scripts for) dull as dishwater. It took a really long time to finish it.


This raises an interesting point, all right. Is it incumbent on a writer to actively voice an opposition to such regimes (Herta Muller's outspoken criticisms of Ceausescu's Romania comes to mind)? And if so, then should writers in countries like America and Britain be shouting from the rooftops over the recent bloody foreign policies of their nations, and is it to their great shame if they do not speak out?

Last year I developed a fanatatical attachment to Solzhenitsyn that has since waned some, though I still esteem the man highly. I may not agree with the extremity of positions that he sometimes took, but I have a tremendous amount of admiration for him. If I can quote again from his Nobel speech in relation to your question:



At various times and in various countries there have arisen heated, angry and exquisite debates as to whether art and the artist should be free to live for themselves, or whether they should be for ever mindful of their duty towards society and serve it albeit in an unprejudiced way. For me there is no dilemma, but I shall refrain from raising once again the train of arguments. One of the most brilliant addresses on this subject was actually Albert Camus' Nobel speech, and I would happily subscribe to his conclusions. Indeed, Russian literature has for several decades manifested an inclination not to become too lost in contemplation of itself, not to flutter about too frivolously. I am not ashamed to continue this tradition to the best of my ability. Russian literature has long been familiar with the notions that a writer can do much within his society, and that it is his duty to do so.

Let us not violate the RIGHT of the artist to express exclusively his own experiences and introspections, disregarding everything that happens in the world beyond. Let us not DEMAND of the artist, but - reproach, beg, urge and entice him - that we may be allowed to do. After all, only in part does he himself develop his talent; the greater part of it is blown into him at birth as a finished product, and the gift of talent imposes responsibility on his free will. Let us assume that the artist does not OWE anybody anything: nevertheless, it is painful to see how, by retiring into his self-made worlds or the spaces of his subjective whims, he CAN surrender the real world into the hands of men who are mercenary, if not worthless, if not insane...

A writer is not the detached judge of his compatriots and contemporaries, he is an accomplice to all the evil committed in his native land or by his countrymen. And if the tanks of his fatherland have flooded the asphalt of a foreign capital with blood, then the brown spots have stained the face of the writer forever. And if one fatal night they suffocated his sleeping, trusting friend, then the palms of the writer bear the bruises from that rope. And if his young fellow citizens breezily declare the superiority of depravity over honest work, if they give themselves over to drugs or seize hostages, then their stink mingles with the breath of the writer.

.....................................

I don't think this justifies a lot of earnest, sincere, second-rate work (as so much of "protest" literature is), and have as much aversion to well-meaning drivel as I do to elaborate emptiness. But the extent to which the so-called major writers in most Western countries tend to keep silent on, or side-step, or toss softballs at the crucial issues of the day should be cause for concern.

Eric
06-Sep-2011, 06:39
I approve of a lot of the things that Britain and America do when it comes to foreign policy. They make blunders, they do immoral things deliberately at times, but on the whole they are a damned sight better that most countries in the world, which are dictatorships with unaccountable governments. The Brits, under "idealist" leftie Tony Blair were doing deals between the British and Libyan secret services. Some of this is beginning to come out. But now, when the rebels need help, only the "colonialist and imperialist" French and Brits did anything concrete, while the pathetic Germans, Russians and Chinese stood whining about oil theft on the sidelines.

End of political lecture about Brits and Yanks.

One must not develop fanatical attachments to anything in literature. Literature is not revolution. Calm assessment is what you need. Solzhenitsyn was very brave in his time, but worship and adulation are not the way to approach brave people and their strategies.

Writers in opposition to régimes like the Soviet one have to use common sense. When the Estonians, in 1980, wrote a provocative letter to Pravda, they knew that they would be individually interviewed by the KGB. So every signatory made sure that his wife or her husband did not sign, so that if Siberia was the prize for their bravery, there would still be one parent at home to look after the kids. Only single people and those dying of cancer can normally be "martyrs" to the cause of freedom and decency. There are, of course, exceptions, and group actions, where the group is strong. But, to allude to T S Eliot from "Murder in the Cathedral", are they doing the right thing for the wrong reason? Being a martyr can be an act of narcissism or altruism.

anchomal
06-Sep-2011, 09:38
Without wanting to get political, I just got to wondering about acceptable sides in conflict.
Recently, I watched a harrowing documentary about the atomic bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, surely would of the most horrific acts in human memory. And yet, given its magnitude, it doesn't seem to have been written of to any great extent in post war American literature. If it had been the Japanese who dropped the bombs on American cities, would the world's attitude towards it be different?
Virtually every day Sky News and CNN report the deaths of British and American soldiers killed in Iraq. Yet civilian casualties only seem to get a mention if they are killed by a suicide bomber.

Septularisen
06-Sep-2011, 09:41
One thing, though... I fail to see why you make anything of Gao Xingjian having been awarded the Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. This, as far as I can tell, has nothing whatsoever to do with citizenship (from a quick wikipedia scan, awardees include the likes of George Clooney, Tim Burton and Julian Barnes).

Correct... like Al PACINO, Robert DENIRO, Merryl STREEP... This is not in rapport with your citizen, this just mean that you are very appreciaded in France, by the French people and French culture...

Septularisen
06-Sep-2011, 09:49
Great. You can star searching in his genealogy to see if he has any French ancestors so you can claim it for the glorious French republic.

I suppose this is a joke?
Please note that as Luxemburger citizen I have no connection with France... I just say that if you have a French passport you are... French!...
I don't need to looking if Mr. LOBO-ANTUNES is French, or has French origins... as I know him personnaly I know perfectly that he is... Portugese!...
Anyway this is another discussion...

I just can say you that, in regard of the informations I have, that Mr. LOBO-ANTUNES was last year (and is this year) is in the final list of the 5 writer of the Nobel comitee....

Now make yourself your opinion...

anchomal
06-Sep-2011, 10:29
I just can say you that, in regard of the informations I have, that Mr. LOBO-ANTUNES was last year (and is this year) is in the final list of the 5 writer of the Nobel comitee....

Now make yourself your opinion...

It probably does not surprise anyone here that Lobo Antunes should be a frontrunner, but come on! You can't say something like this and then act all coy! Is this a fact, and based on an actual source?

Rumpelstilzchen
06-Sep-2011, 11:40
I guess it was mentioned somewhere above in this thread that Adonis got the Goethe Prize this year (50,000 Euro). He has been one of the usual suspects for the Nobel Prize for quite some time now and with the last Arabic winner more than two decades ago and with the arabic countries in the foreground of the daily news he might have better chances than ever before. Here is an interesting article discussing him a bit:
http://en.qantara.de/Honouring-Condescending-Scepticism/17061c17560i1p169/index.html

In particular his German translator makes a point that it could not be the best of times to give him the prize this year. The reason for this is Adonis' questionable attitude and statements towards the democratic revolutions in the Arabic world, in particular Syria,his country of birth. The "political integrity" aspect of the Nobel prize could spoil his chances.

giggs85
06-Sep-2011, 13:49
[QUOTE=Eric;98733]Giggs85, #376. Yes, I heard about how Esterházy wrote a novel about his wonderful dad and then discovered later that his father had been an informer to the secret police in Communist times. Kundera also had a dodgy past in Czechoslovakia, and may have informed on a colleague when young. But all those Central European countries often meant a lot of compromise and collaboration with the authorities if you wanted to get anything published. So probably very few writers who got published during Communist times were saints.

Yes, I agree. But Krasznahorkai has never been supported person by the Communist Party. I think it is very, very important. Some of his works had been forbidden during '80's. An he is outstander by politic. He doesn't speeak about politic, doesen't support any party. So if I would choose, I choose Krasznahorkai, not Esterházy or Nádas.
And I think he is better novelist than them.

Eric
06-Sep-2011, 15:00
Yes, Anchomal, Hiroshima and Nagasaki must never be forgotten. But the Japanese were no angels during WWII. They had suicide bombers (Pearl Harbor) and had horrible concentration camps, just like the German Nazis, which Dutch, Indonesian, and British prisoners were witness to.

One of the hardest decisions to be made during a war is surely whether to use a weapon of mass destruction, e.g. an atom bomb (Hiroshima, Nagasaki) or fire-bombing (Dresden) to achieve one's goals when you know 100% certain that innocent men, women and children will die. But calculations will no doubt be made about what would happen if the war continued for another five years, and how many further millions would die.

After all, when it comes to the horrors of Dresden, well documented by Kurt Vonnegut who was there, we must remember that the German Nazis, systematically and sadistically, reduced the city of Coventry in England to rubble, street by street, early in the war. This wasn't the jolly old bombing of munitions factories, this was a deliberate form of terror warfare. The Allies were on the right side of morality; whether Dresden was revenge or scare tactics is hard to tell. But the British, French, Scandinavians, etc., did not start that destructive war.

Nor were the Russians angels. They had been stupid enough to let a Georgian psychopath take over their country, who set about killing all the best Russian generals in his usual paranoid Gaddafi-like way during the 1930s. So, when he realised that Nazi Germany was a real threat, he disingenuously pretended to be nice to the Germans by signing the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact making Germany friends with Russia (aka the Soviet Union). So a lot of Russian Communists didn't know where they were. One day Nazi Germany was the enemy, the next, a great friend. So when we read all those books about the poor old Russians at Stalingrad or the Siege of Leningrad (70th anniversary the day after tomorrow) don't blame the German Nazis for all of it. The Russians were asking for it by being ill equipped for war. This makes Chamberlain's "this piece of paper means peace in our time" or whatever he said, look like minor theatricals and punning. Because Britain too was ill equipped. But Chamberlain had not had Montgomery and other key generals shot.

Eric
06-Sep-2011, 15:08
Septularisen, I find your spelling mistakes and cod grammar fun for one posting, but I am beginning to seriously doubt that you are so dyslexic or ill-educated that you cannot reduce these to a minimum.

And without hesitation or a lot of Googling, please translate what I have just written into Lëtzebuergesch, French or German, so we can enjoy the delights of your trilinguality. Luxembourg is, as we all know, a trilingual country, so surely world language English should be easy for you to spell, despite its anomalies.

anchomal
06-Sep-2011, 15:24
Of course, all of this is a fact and I make no attempt at argument. But whether or not you (not necessarily you personally, Eric!) consider that "it's okay for me to do x, since you have done y", the point I was hoping (and trying) to raise was whether or not writers (back then as well as now) have a duty to comment on, and if needs be, to protest such actions.

Eric
06-Sep-2011, 15:55
Anchomal, I would say that writers have a duty to write the best books they can. I do not think that writers in the West should necessarily and automatically be regarded as great gurus and political sages. Their skills involve narration and getting the story across to their readership. I think that people are naďve to think that writers are any better or worse equipped than other intelligent and educated human beings. Harold Pinter and Henning Mankell are two writers who were good at what they did on paper but were somehow not satisfied with that role and became crusaders for righteousness. I am not entirely sure what either achieved in the arena of world politics.

If a writer protests, signs a petition, or mans the barricades, this will mean that if he or she is famous, the name will carry weight. And writers can often express themselves better. But there is no real reason why a writer per se is a wiser human being than the rest of us non-writers. The same goes for journalists. Their duty is to report, which is not the same as commentary. Commentary is opinion, whereas you must have hard facts first. If writers and journalists were superior to the rest of us, they would have taken the vote away from us plebs ages ago, and only allowed journalists and writers to vote on key issues because they were regarded as more intelligent than us.

Septularisen
06-Sep-2011, 17:28
Septularisen, I find your spelling mistakes and cod grammar fun for one posting, but I am beginning to seriously doubt that you are so dyslexic or ill-educated that you cannot reduce these to a minimum.

And without hesitation or a lot of Googling, please translate what I have just written into Lëtzebuergesch, French or German, so we can enjoy the delights of your trilinguality. Luxembourg is, as we all know, a trilingual country, so surely world language English should be easy for you to spell, despite its anomalies.

Sorry for that... I do my best, but you know English is NOT my mother tongue...
I try to participate to the best that I can to this forum and appreciate your interesting comments...

Uemarasan
06-Sep-2011, 22:43
Uemarasan, please let us know how you think about Banana Yoshimoto's chances as Nobel contender. She's translated a lot here in Vietnam and I know there's something like Bananamania going on in many countries.

She is enjoyable and harmless, but, unfortunately, not a Nobel contender. That said, I'd much rather read her than a lot of the Nobel contenders mentioned thus far.

Daniel del Real
07-Sep-2011, 01:23
I suppose this is a joke?
Please note that as Luxemburger citizen I have no connection with France... I just say that if you have a French passport you are... French!...
I don't need to looking if Mr. LOBO-ANTUNES is French, or has French origins... as I know him personnaly I know perfectly that he is... Portugese!...
Anyway this is another discussion...

I just can say you that, in regard of the informations I have, that Mr. LOBO-ANTUNES was last year (and is this year) is in the final list of the 5 writer of the Nobel comitee....

Now make yourself your opinion...

Yes, I'm joking ;), don't take things so seriously. And don't worry about Mr. Eric Perfect Dickens comments on how you write. You have to get used that he can be a serious pain in the ass sometimes.

Eric
07-Sep-2011, 02:39
I agree with Stiffelio and, being a literary translator who prizes the elegant use of English in the right circumstances, I would like to say: I'm bloody fed up of this bullshit. Thread-spoiling is the equivalent of shitting in someone else's pants. Please shit in your own, i.e., as Stiffelio suggests, start the "Pathetically Socially Impaired Spoilers With Nothing To Say But Who Stamp Their Feet in an Impotent Gaddafi-Like Destructive Rage" thread. That would be a kindergarten for those who cannot build but only destroy.

Liam
07-Sep-2011, 02:47
OK, so if somebody says something provocative in THIS thread that has nothing to do with the Nobel theme, we're not supposed to reply in any way to this provocation because it has nothing to do with the subject of the thread in question? This is an Internet forum, guys, not an Oxbridge lecture hall.

And Eric, "spoiling" refers, in particular, to somebody's ruining the book for you by revealing an interesting plot twist or (perish the thought!) the ending. Perhaps you mean thread-soiling? :p I could only spoil THIS thread by telling you, ahead of time, who's going to win the Nobel this year, but unfortunately I don't have that piece of information at my fingertips (at present).

Digressions are beautiful.

Eric
07-Sep-2011, 02:58
Liam, we must have rules that apply to all. One minute you are writing serious things about Lithuanian or Celtic literature, the next, you want to say anything on any thread, because you feel like it, and all those hateful Oxford debaters are just fuddy-duddies. As I said on another thread just now, those who get drunk at three in the morning (or even at nine at night) should desist from yelling until sobriety returns. This thread is, as Stiffelio says with no reservations, is being ruined by those who cannot debate in a calm manner. Those of us who are somewhat older get intolerant of the adolescent behaviour of those who are in their twenties but, when drunk, shrink to the age of fifteen. I want to talk about the subject of the thread, not to have to wade through a lot of irrelevant garbage before I again find a posting that belongs to the thread.

Don't answer this until you are five hours away from the last drink or spliff.

Liam
07-Sep-2011, 03:13
I wasn't aware that Japanese cinema (as off-topic as it actually is here) was "irrelevant garbage." Be that as it may, however, you cannot stop people from commenting. On whatever subject, in whichever thread they choose. The WLF is a free-for-all place, and yes, certain rules DO apply, but not the stifling ones you seem to want to impose. People should feel free to say what they want to say, whether or not it has to do with the subject. Unless they're being generally offensive (racist, sexist, homophobic, etc) or threatening (toward a particular member, like me or you), I see no problem whatever with getting off topic.

adaorardor
07-Sep-2011, 06:18
My comment was, if you go back and read carefully, AS FAR AS I KNOW the country hasn't produced a major writer or filmmaker in the last four decades.

Here are some major filmmakers: Kurosawa, Ozu, Naruse, Mizoguchi, Imamura. If you think the filmmakers you mention are major - though I concede that my not counting Miyazaki as major is due to a bias against animation more than anything else - your definition of what constitutes major is somewhat looser than mine. Miike Takashi? "Beat" Takeshi? Either you are hopping insane or your humor is too subtle for me, my good man or woman. Frankly, I'm surprised that with forty years to play with your list is so loaded with filmmakers who appeared in the last twenty. Fetch further back and you might come across, say Itami Juzo, who's certainly a hell of a lot worthier of your consideration than Misters Miike and Kitano.

Now here are some major writers: Kawabata, Mishima, Soseki, Inoue, Tanizaki. Ogawa Yoko is not a major writer by a very long shot. Yamada and Ito I have not read - and here I would like to add that I would happily be proven wrong in my sweeping generalization, because I take no delight in feeling that a country that has produced so many major artists has not done so for such a long time.

I would like you to consider very carefully when Mr. Tanikawa began publishing. Here, I'll help: Tanikawa’s first book collection, Twenty Billion Light Years of Loneliness, was published in 1952 when the poet was 21.

I'll also add to the wonderfully perceptive comment on Oe Kenzaburo made by another poster with a lazily snatched bit from Wikipedia:

After his first student works set in his own university milieu, in the late 1950s he produced several works (such as 飼育 (Shiiku), known as 'The Catch', 'Prize Stock', or 'Prize Catch', made into a film by Nagisa Oshima) and Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nip_the_Buds,_Shoot_the_Kids)) focusing on young children living in Arcadian (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arcadia_%28utopia%29) transformations of Ōe's own rural Shikoku (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shikoku) childhood.

Now let us go back to the phrasing of my comment. I wrote that as far as I know Japan has not produced a major writer (or filmmaker) in the last four decades - meaning that no truly earthshaking literary or cinematic talent has appeared over that time, insofar as I know. The year is now 2011. Subtract forty years. That's 1971, if I'm not mistaken, though math is not my forte. Now go back up to the time references in the snippets above. Mr. Oe: the late 1950s. Mr. Tanikawa: 1952. Both of these men are major writers who began publishing well prior to 1971.

My bad, I wasn't careful enough with dates. Just didn't want Oe forgotten.

Your posts are very informative and thoughtful and I really appreciate them, even if our opinions sometimes differ.

liehtzu
07-Sep-2011, 06:39
Actually, speaking of Oe, I wonder if he thinks there are any Japanese writers worthy of the Nobel these days... The man has done a lot to promote Korean and Chinese literature here in Japan, from what I understand. Buy a paperback of a Mo Yan novel in English and chances are Oe's comment "If I were to give the Nobel prize to anyone, it would be to Mo Yan" will be on the back of it. He has also written of his admiration for Korean poet Kim Chi-ha and novelist Hwang Sok-yong, both of whom are said to be in the Marlon Brando sense, contenders (though Kim's been eclipsed by poet Ko Un in betting pools for some time now).

Eric and Stiffelio are right. Further discussions of Japanese film should be confined to one of the film threads. Digressions are fine, but when they snowball to such a degree they need to be snipped and moved. Might I also suggest a Bitching at Other Members for No Particular Reason thread?

adaorardor
07-Sep-2011, 06:55
Actually, speaking of Oe, I wonder if he thinks there are any Japanese writers worthy of the Nobel these days... The man has done a lot to promote Korean and Chinese literature here in Japan, from what I understand. Buy a paperback of a Mo Yan novel in English and chances are Oe's comment "If I were to give the Nobel prize to anyone, it would be to Mo Yan" will be on the back of it. He has also written of his admiration for Korean poet Kim Chi-ha and novelist Hwang Sok-yong, both of whom are said to be in the Marlon Brando sense, contenders (though Kim's been eclipsed by poet Ko Un in betting pools for some time now).

Eric and Stiffelio are right. Further discussions of Japanese film should be confined to one of the film threads. Digressions are fine, but when they snowball to such a degree they need to be snipped and moved. Might I also suggest a Bitching at Other Members for No Particular Reason thread?

What major writers do you think China has produced in the past four decades? Do you think Mo Yan deserves the prize? I've been unfairly biased against him because Red Sorghum didn't appeal to me but maybe I should give him a shot.

Who would you pick for the Prize if it were up to you?

pinkunicorn
07-Sep-2011, 08:28
I've been following this particular thread and its siblings for a couple of years without surfacing to comment and will probably mainly continue to do so. However, I'd like to point out a web page I did about the odds for the Nobel Prize in Literature.

The page http://familjen-persson.se/nobel/odds-today.html shows a compilation of the odds from unibet.com, betus.com.pa, and victorchandler.com. I'll add in ladbrokes.com when they start their betting. Let me know if there are more similar sites I should add.

The page lists each person being bet on from at least one site and all the odds given for that person. Persons are listed by lowest average odds on the current day. At the end of the page, there is also a section that shows any changes to the day before ("<" means yesterday and ">" means today).

The page is regenerated each day just before midnight Swedish time.

Hans

Eric
07-Sep-2011, 10:27
Liam, you don't put crockery in the linen cupboard. There is nothing wrong with Japanese cinema, or Lithuanian poets, but start a new thread as you have successfully done with Parulskis (whom I don't expect to be in the running for the Nobel). You don't expect your French lecturer to waltz into the lecture theatre and start a whole discussion about quantum physics in German. I get fed up of people just wandering off at a tangent all the time. We all do it to a small extent, but it's a question of self-control, self-discipline.

Let's get back to the Nobel people. Even a bit of betting does no harm, as long as some stupid person doesn't start artificially pushing some pointless name up the list, as was done with that world-famous author Néstor Amarilla last year. I find it interesting to look at the names towards the bottom of the list. Though I can't quite see Liza Marklund winning it. Otherwise, why not have that loyal Swede and philosemite Jan Guillou?

Are you a Swede, Hans the Pink Unicorn? Sounds like it. I have never been to Linköping.

Rumpelstilzchen
07-Sep-2011, 11:14
I've been following this particular thread and its siblings for a couple of years without surfacing to comment and will probably mainly continue to do so. However, I'd like to point out a web page I did about the odds for the Nobel Prize in Literature.

The page http://familjen-persson.se/nobel/odds-today.html shows a compilation of the odds from unibet.com, betus.com.pa, and victorchandler.com. I'll add in ladbrokes.com when they start their betting. Let me know if there are more similar sites I should add.

The page lists each person being bet on from at least one site and all the odds given for that person. Persons are listed by lowest average odds on the current day. At the end of the page, there is also a section that shows any changes to the day before ("<" means yesterday and ">" means today).

The page is regenerated each day just before midnight Swedish time.

Hans

Cool, this could be very helpful for the last days before the announcement :), especially the changes. I am not sure if it makes much sense to take the average of all betting sites. Maybe it might be better to just stick to the most reliable site, i.e. Ladbrokes? In addition, how about a history of changes? At the moment you only have the changes for the last day. Or maybe one table with the largest changes?

e.g. I do not take Unibet seriously with such names on the list: Néstor Amarilla, J. K. Rowling, Paulo Coelho.

anchomal
07-Sep-2011, 11:22
Yeah, the list is interesting, though it is hard to take some of the names seriously.
I wonder, what is the opinion of people here on Joyce Carol Oates? She gets mentioned year after year as a possible winner, but from the few things of hers I've read over the years, I just don't get why she is regarded so highly. She is definitely prolific, and it is possible that I have only happened across her lesser work, but surely if there is to be an American winner the Nobel committee will look elsewhere. I can't imagine her winning ahead of the likes of Pynchon and Roth.

pinkunicorn
07-Sep-2011, 12:22
Cool, this could be very helpful for the last days before the announcement :), especially the changes. I am not sure if it makes much sense to take the average of all betting sites. Maybe it might be better to just stick to the most reliable site, i.e. Ladbrokes? In addition, how about a history of changes? At the moment you only have the changes for the last day. Or maybe one table with the largest changes?

e.g. I do not take Unibet seriously with such names on the list: Néstor Amarilla, J. K. Rowling, Paulo Coelho.

I've thought about making some kind of diagram over the odds over time but haven't had time to consider it in detail yet. Nestor Amarilla was on Ladbrokes's list as well last year.


Are you a Swede, Hans the Pink Unicorn? Sounds like it. I have never been to Linköping.

Yes, I'm a Swede.

Eric
07-Sep-2011, 14:14
Obviously I checked up who this mysterious pink person was, a man with the blandest of surnames. Because as I said last year, there was an irritating incursion by someone who had pushed the minor Latin American writer up the Ladbroke's league table just for fun. But betting is a serious business, and any attempt to disrupt the normal run of things is not nice and may even be illegal, like messing about with bids on the stock exchange.

Of course Néstor Amarilla was (spuriously) on the Ladbroke's list last year. But that was the result of manipulation, probably by some dumb journo at DN. Given the way that hackers and the internet itself work, you can manipulate all sorts of things. But that is not fair on the people who are betting real money in good faith.

Daniel del Real
07-Sep-2011, 22:07
From unicorn's betting list there are a few names that it's the first time I hear:
Hanan Al-Shaykh, Witi Ilhimaera (33), Leila Aboulela (150), Karistu Abela (75)

Some other appear in wiki with a predominant activity other than writer:

Andrei Plesu (80), Hans Kung (80), Edward de Bono (85), Sir Ken Robinson ,Jens Lapidus (175)

Then there's a bunch of aussies that I had no idead they existed:
Brian Castro (33), Kate Grenville (33), Shirley Hazzard (33), Tim Winton (33)

And finally Leonardo Boff (40) must be a joke.

anchomal
07-Sep-2011, 22:19
The Aussies have some fine writers, Winton and Hazzard, as Daniel has mentioned, but also, Murray Bail, Gerald Murnane, Peter Carey (a double-Booker winner), David Malouf (shortlisted for this year's International Booker), even Thomas Kenneally. And the poet, Les Murray. Probably lots more that I've missed, too. And it has been a long time since Patrick White's win so maybe the Nobel committee could do worse than casting a glance down under.

Stevie B
07-Sep-2011, 23:15
The Aussies have some fine writers, Winton and Hazzard, as Daniel has mentioned, but also, Murray Bail, Gerald Murnane, Peter Carey (a double-Booker winner), David Malouf (shortlisted for this year's International Booker), even Thomas Kenneally. And the poet, Les Murray. Probably lots more that I've missed, too. And it has been a long time since Patrick White's win so maybe the Nobel committee could do worse than casting a glance down under.

I read Winton's Shallows years ago and really liked it, and I have a friend who says Cloudstreet is even better. As far as Malouf is concerned, I have a copy of Johnno in my ever-growing to-be-read pile.

liehtzu
07-Sep-2011, 23:44
What major writers do you think China has produced in the past four decades? Do you think Mo Yan deserves the prize? I've been unfairly biased against him because Red Sorghum didn't appeal to me but maybe I should give him a shot.

Who would you pick for the Prize if it were up to you?

I am also not a huge Mo Yan fan based on what I've read. I can't say I've been absolutely enamored with any of the living Chinese writers, though I've liked a few (Su Tong and Yu Hua - I recommend avoiding long-winded and clunky Man Asian Literary Prize-winner Wolf Totem by Jiang Rong). I suspect that a problem may lie in one man Chinese literature translation machine Howard Goldblatt. It is positively eerie how many of the major Chinese novels translated in the last twenty years have been by this man's pen. And I must say that despite all the blurbs "expertly translated by Howard Goldblatt" on the back of these books, some of the writing is clunky and tin-eared indeed. I cannot help but think it is not always the authors' faults. I remember what Joseph Brodsky once said about Victorian-era Russian translator Constance Garnett's way of making all Russian writers sound the same: "English-speakers think they're reading Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, but they're really only reading Constance Garnett." That's true to a degree with all translators, but I'd rest easier if there wasn't such a dominance of Goldblatt amongst the Chinese translations. There are other people out there who speak Chinese.

pinkunicorn
08-Sep-2011, 07:54
From unicorn's betting list there are a few names that it's the first time I hear:
Hanan Al-Shaykh, Witi Ilhimaera (33), Leila Aboulela (150), Karistu Abela (75)

Some other appear in wiki with a predominant activity other than writer:

Andrei Plesu (80), Hans Kung (80), Edward de Bono (85), Sir Ken Robinson ,Jens Lapidus (175)

Jens Lapidus is a Swedish lawyer and crime writer. I find his novels quite good for his genre with a very different language from the journalist prose most of his colleagues use, but he is definitely not Nobel material after three novels (the last one of which I'm currently reading, btw).

Septularisen
08-Sep-2011, 09:02
Yes, I'm joking ;), don't take things so seriously. And don't worry about Mr. Eric Perfect Dickens comments on how you write. You have to get used that he can be a serious pain in the ass sometimes.
No problem for me. I'm just participate to this forum for try to find the next Literature Nobel prize... not for write like Shakespeare!...

Septularisen
08-Sep-2011, 09:08
Jens Lapidus is a Swedish lawyer and crime writer. I find his novels quite good for his genre with a very different language from the journalist prose most of his colleagues use, but he is definitely not Nobel material after three novels (the last one of which I'm currently reading, btw).
I agree with that. If one Swedish author must receive the Nobel, this man must be Tomas TRANSTRÖMER...
And for say the truth, I'm currently reading "BALTIQUES" ("ÖSTERSJÖAR")...

Eric
08-Sep-2011, 10:34
It strikes me, Liehzu (#421), that there is something grotesque about the fact that China is a country with about one thousand million inhabitants, yet the tastes and efforts of one sole translator into English dominate.

Constance Garnett is a joke in the world of translation, as is, to an extent, H T Lowe-Porter, who was in the right place at the right time and therefore won Thomas Mann's confidence and respect. But some of us translators do do our best to get as close to the original as possible, which is much easier with prose than poetry, which can be hermetic, and contain rhyme, which runs the risk of being turned into doggerel.

What Mr Perfect was trying to say about Septularisen's efforts here is that maybe his "mistakes" are not entirely accidental. There are lots of non-native-speakers of English here, and even those of us that are native-speakers make mistakes, typos, and so on. But in the past we have had people who have deliberately written in a rather odd way for effect. Also, Septularisen seems awfully shy about demonstrating his knowledge of that key local language in Luxembourg, Lëtzebuergesch, which is closely related to German but is unique to Luxembourg. If he is indeed an officer and a gentleman, he will of course produce the goods.

Grammatically, the following sentence is not what you would expect of someone who speaks German and makes mistakes by falling back on his mother-tongue:


No problem for me. I'm just participate to this forum for try to find the next Literature Nobel prize... not for write like Shakespeare!...

I would hope that no one in the 21st century would use Shakespeare as a role model for writing English. A lot of his vocabulary is incomprehensible enough to the modern reader of English, as it is.

anchomal
08-Sep-2011, 10:44
What Mr Perfect was trying to say about Septularisen's efforts here is that maybe his "mistakes" are not entirely accidental. There are lots of non-native-speakers of English here, and even those of us that are native-speakers make mistakes, typos, and so on. But in the past we have had people who have deliberately written in a rather odd way for effect. Also, Septularisen seems awfully shy about demonstrating his knowledge of that key local language in Luxembourg, Lëtzebuergesch, which is closely related to German but is unique to Luxembourg. If he is indeed an officer and a gentleman, he will of course produce the goods.

Why should he have to demonstrate his language prowess (which, by the way, would surely be taking this thread off-topic)? Why does it even matter to you? This is a forum in English, and people do the best they can. He's here to join in a discussion on the next Nobel Prize winner, that's all. Nice job on making a fellow feel welcome!

Rumpelstilzchen
08-Sep-2011, 10:58
Why should he have to demonstrate his language prowess (which, by the way, would surely be taking this thread off-topic)? Why does it even matter to you? This is a forum in English, and people do the best they can. He's here to join in a discussion on the next Nobel Prize winner, that's all. Nice job on making a fellow feel welcome!
I am with you Anchomal!!!!!!

Eric, didn't you complain
(just a few days ago, this post for example:
http://www.worldliteratureforum.com/forum/showthread.php/43634-Nobel-Prize-in-Literature-2011-Speculation?p=98813#post98813
)
about the fact that people digress too much in this very thread (see the Active Members thread in the Support section)? Don't you think you are applying double standards?

Sorry for being off-topic...

Eric
08-Sep-2011, 11:25
Anchomal and Apfelwurm did not read my last message carefully. I do not care whether people make mistakes. We all do. I was only hinting at the fact that someone from Luxembourg would know Lëtzebuergesch, and Septularisen doesn't seem to want to discuss that quite interesting language. If, of course, Septularisen is a native-speaker of French or Italian, he may simply not know that language. I'm just curious (i.e. nosey), that's all, as we've never had anyone from Luxembourg¨before, as far as I know.

This thread is indeed about the Nobel and who may win. Septularisen is reading Tranströmer in French, which is commendable. I still suggest that the Swedes may shy away from giving it to a fellow Swede because of the Martinson-Johnson affair. However, that was about 35 years ago, and maybe they can consider Tranströmer, who I agree is a worthy candidate.

Looking at Pink Unicorn's tables, there are quite a lot of authors who are not from Europe or North America near the top of the list. Does anyone think that an Asian or Latin American author stands a good chance this year? Vargas Llosa would perhaps reduce the chances of a Latin American, but Asia? China? Because whatever people say about focusing on the author and their work alone, such national and regional factors surely play a big role.

Anyway, we're now about five weeks off the usual date for the announcement of the Nobel, which is around 13th October. I believe that the other Nobel prizes have fixed dates, but there is always leeway with the one for literature.

To return to Thomas Mann (and Lowe Porter), I wonder who the translators were when Mann won the Nobel in 1929. Because in those days Swedes would have had German as their first school language and so the Nobel committee may have done without translations of Mann's work. I doubt if that is the case today with German which has long been replaced in Swedish schools by English.

What still interests me, although the information is, no doubt, not made public, is how many and which languages (apart from Swedish and English) the people on the Nobel literature committee (5 or 6 people) actually read. This surely has relevance when doing some of the initial work after the professors have recommended a candidate. I wonder whether the Nobel people ever hold onto a name for a year or two, until adequate translations are available. Imagine if several scholars worldwide recommended a Mongolian or Thai author. How long would it take to get a body of work by that author into a large gateway language, principally English, or the Swedish language?

Rumpelstilzchen
08-Sep-2011, 11:37
I've thought about making some kind of diagram over the odds over time but haven't had time to consider it in detail yet. Nestor Amarilla was on Ladbrokes's list as well last year.


Yes, but I guess you will not find him there this year. If I remember correctly, the Ladbrokes list is only put up one or at most two weeks before the announcement or so. For me this is the point in time when the speculation business enters the hot phase.

Eric
08-Sep-2011, 11:53
I bloody-well hope that Ladbroke's is not manipulated this year by some clever-dick Swedish journo to include the world-shatteringly important writer Néstor Amarilla. He is supposed to exist in reality, not just be a figment of someone's imagination. But next time someone may make up a completely spoof name. The internet allows lots of nonsense to be posted, including carefully planted entries all over the shop about non-existent people. But you soon sus and spot a phoney when the references to a particular person all lead back to one another, and there is no other information or photo, no Wiki entry, and so on.

I agree with Apfelwurm that posting up a betting list too early runs the risk of people losing interest nearer the date. Late September would be early enough. The interesting thing to do now is to establish who are definitely the front-runners and who are the long-shots. But ultimately it is all rumour, as the Nobel people, rightly, keep the secret until the announcement. There may be leaks, but these may prove to be fake leaks, just to make everything more exciting or lucrative if you're betting. If rumour can force a few popular names well down the list, and one wins, then those betting get a lot of money.

Eric
08-Sep-2011, 12:19
Without Googling, but off the top of your head, how many women have won the Nobel Prize for Literature, and what proportion is this of all laureates?

When you've guessed, have a look. There have been roughly a hundred Nobel Prizes for Literature, as during WWI and WWII there were a few years when the prize was not awarded at all. The following homepage leads you to several sites where you can find things out:

http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/lists/

pinkunicorn
08-Sep-2011, 12:26
Anyway, we're now about five weeks off the usual date for the announcement of the Nobel, which is around 13th October. I believe that the other Nobel prizes have fixed dates, but there is always leeway with the one for literature.

The dates for the other nobels are announced well in advance, but the literature prize isn't. However, it's normally announced on a Thursday and during the time I've been following this I think it's always been on the Thursday suspiciously being left empty by the other Nobel announcements.

The last few years the announcement has come on these dates:
2006-10-12: Orhan Pamuk
2007-10-11: Doris Lessing
2008-10-09: JMG Clézio
2009-10-08: Herta Müller
2010-10-07: Mario Vargas Llosa

pinkunicorn
08-Sep-2011, 12:33
There have been roughly a hundred Nobel Prizes for Literature, as during WWI and WWII there were a few years when the prize was not awarded at all.

There was no award 1914 or 1918 and no awards 1940-1943 which is due to the wars, I assume (although they restarted the awards before WWII ended). However, there was also no award for 1935. I don't know why.

Eric
08-Sep-2011, 12:39
Maybe we can also bet on the day the prize is announced. In the last few years, given the fact that Thursdays fall on different dates each year, there has been quite a spread of dates. But it must surely be 6th or 13th October this year.

As I say, the number of times it has been awarded is roughly 100, slightly over. And how many women? Should a quota be introduced? Should equality of opportunity apply to the Scribblers' Nobel too?

anchomal
08-Sep-2011, 13:28
I definitely don't think there should be quotas. That would definitely lessen the value of the prize. Yes, there has been a severe imbalance over the span of a hundred years but in recent years things have begun to balance out a bit, with Jelinek, Lessing and Muller.
Didn't Hemingway, in what seems a rare moment of humility, suggest that Karen Blixen would have been a more worthy choice?
It might be fun to consider some worthy women who have been overlooked for the Nobel, though I have a feeling it would still be easier to come up with a list of men who should have won. Maybe that in itself says something.

Septularisen
08-Sep-2011, 13:39
It strikes me, Liehzu (#421), that there is something grotesque about the fact that China is a country with about one thousand million inhabitants, yet the tastes and efforts of one sole translator into English dominate.

Constance Garnett is a joke in the world of translation, as is, to an extent, H T Lowe-Porter, who was in the right place at the right time and therefore won Thomas Mann's confidence and respect. But some of us translators do do our best to get as close to the original as possible, which is much easier with prose than poetry, which can be hermetic, and contain rhyme, which runs the risk of being turned into doggerel.

What Mr Perfect was trying to say about Septularisen's efforts here is that maybe his "mistakes" are not entirely accidental. There are lots of non-native-speakers of English here, and even those of us that are native-speakers make mistakes, typos, and so on. But in the past we have had people who have deliberately written in a rather odd way for effect. Also, Septularisen seems awfully shy about demonstrating his knowledge of that key local language in Luxembourg, Lëtzebuergesch, which is closely related to German but is unique to Luxembourg. If he is indeed an officer and a gentleman, he will of course produce the goods.

Grammatically, the following sentence is not what you would expect of someone who speaks German and makes mistakes by falling back on his mother-tongue:



I would hope that no one in the 21st century would use Shakespeare as a role model for writing English. A lot of his vocabulary is incomprehensible enough to the modern reader of English, as it is.


If I have wounded or offended someone here, with my writings, I would like him to make my apologies. I can assure you that this is not done deliberately, and that I do my best to write a correct English.

Once again, if I came on this forum is not to offend, but just because for many years I am passionate about the Nobel Prize in literature (like many people here, I think...) and that every year I try to find who will receive the Nobel...

Septularisen
08-Sep-2011, 13:51
[QUOTE=Eric;98922] Septularisen is reading Tranströmer in French, which is commendable. I still suggest that the Swedes may shy away from giving it to a fellow Swede because of the Martinson-Johnson affair. However, that was about 35 years ago, and maybe they can consider Tranströmer, who I agree is a worthy candidate.[QUOTE]

Correct i read the French translation from Mr. Jacques OUITIN. I agree with you regarding the Harry MARTINSON-Eyvind JOHNSON affair but... It was so a long time ago!...
Tomas TRANSTRÖMER writing from 1954, and his translate to more of 35 laguages... For me this is a perfect Nobel candidate.
Maybe is only problem is that he is Swedish?...

anchomal
08-Sep-2011, 14:00
Probably only the American and British media would have a problem with Tomas TRANSTRÖMER winning!
Actually, when you really consider the whole thing, the Nobel Committee have a really difficult job. Every year there must be a dozen or more genuinely worthy candidates, and there will be complaints with regard to whoever they choose. Everyone has an opinion, and unfortunately it is not always an informed one! After both le Clezio's and Herta Muller's wins, they were reported in some big American newspapers as being unknowns (with the usual insinuation that this meant they were no good) when in fact they were only unknown to the journalist who had written the article.

liehtzu
08-Sep-2011, 14:27
I definitely don't think there should be quotas. That would definitely lessen the value of the prize. Yes, there has been a severe imbalance over the span of a hundred years but in recent years things have begun to balance out a bit, with Jelinek, Lessing and Muller.
Didn't Hemingway, in what seems a rare moment of humility, suggest that Karen Blixen would have been a more worthy choice?
It might be fun to consider some worthy women who have been overlooked for the Nobel, though I have a feeling it would still be easier to come up with a list of men who should have won. Maybe that in itself says something.

Supposedly Saul Bellow said they should have given it to Christina Stead instead of him. I wouldn't have given it to Stead instead of Bellow, because Bellow deserved it, but Stead, one of the really undervalued English-language writers of the twentieth century, should have got it.

Of course one of the major oversights for the prize was - and I know you're thinking Virginia Woolf! but no! - Anna Akhmatova, the great Russian poet. Else Lasker-Schuler, Ingeborg Bachmann, umm, Marguerite Yourcenar, Rebecca West, Edith Wharton, Willa Cather, Enchi Fumiko maybe, umm... oh, I'm going to get grief for saying this, but the fact of the matter is there just aren't as many great female writers, by a long shot, as there are great male writers. There aren't any great female composers, there are only a few great female painters... I know it's an insensitive and probably even barbaric thing to point out, but that's just the way it is. Of course, the academy has made up for its historic lack of awards to women writers in the past couple of decades, but some of these decisions are questionable. Certainly Szymborska, great as she is, should not have won over Zbigniew Herbert among Polish poets. And I'm sorry but I can take about a paragraph of Toni Morrison before I start groaning - not my kind of writer at all, that self-consciously epic sort of style, and it doesn't help that she's made some really stupid comments in public (Clinton was "our first black President," etc). Herta Muller seemed an odd choice over so many other European writers. Nothing I've read by or about Jelinek makes me swoon. Doris Lessing... eh. However, I would like to take the time to plug mostly forgotten poet Nelly Sachs, one of the major figures of post-war European poetry. Actually I find the Academy's older female choices (Deledda, Lagerlof, Undset, Mistral, and yes, Pearl Buck) a much more interesting crowd than the recent ones.

Rumpelstilzchen
08-Sep-2011, 14:41
Of course one of the major oversights for the prize was - and I know you're thinking Virginia Woolf! but no! - Anna Akhmatova, the great Russian poet. Else Lasker-Schuler, Ingeborg Bachmann, umm, Marguerite Yourcenar, Enchi Fumiko maybe, umm...


Frau Bachmann does not count, she died with 47.



Herta Muller seemed an odd choice over so many other European writers. Nothing I've read by or about Jelinek makes me swoon.

I am sorry to say this, but you don't know shit :), no offense...

adaorardor
08-Sep-2011, 15:25
Frau Bachmann does not count, she died with 47.



I am sorry to say this, but you don't know shit :), no offense...

I really love Herta Muller's work, but to be honest she was an odd choice. The reason is that she was relatively young, and what seems to be regarded as her chef d'oeuvre and best work to date (at least one of the two best along with Herztier), Atemschaukel, was published the same fall that she was awarded the prize. For a committee that is clearly so cautious about refraining from leaping to judgment on writers, I found that odd (it sort of suggests that they were prepared to give her the prize even before Atemschaukel was published, unless they had an advance copy...and if they did it's almost odder, since the Nobel is the furthest thing from a book of the year. They needed a half-century to decide that Grass deserved the prize for The Tin Drum, but an advance galley of Atemschaukel was enough for them??)

liehtzu
08-Sep-2011, 15:31
Frau Bachmann does not count, she died with 47.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Brodsky

Here, I'll highlight the relevant sections for you:

Iosif Aleksandrovich Brodsky[/URL] ([URL="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_language"]Russian (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Brodsky#cite_note-0): Ио́сиф Алекса́ндрович Бро́дский, IPA: [ˈjɵsʲɪf ˈbrotskʲɪj] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:IPA_for_Russian); 24 May 1940 – 28 January 1996), was a Russian-American poet and essayist. He was expelled from the Soviet Union in 1972 for alleged "social parasitism (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parasitism_%28social_offense%29)" and settled in America with the help of W. H. Auden (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W._H._Auden) and other supporters. He taught thereafter at universities including those at Yale (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yale_University), Cambridge (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University_of_Cambridge) and Michigan (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University_of_Michigan).

Brodsky was awarded the 1987 Nobel Prize in Literature (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nobel_Prize_in_Literature) "for an all-embracing authorship, imbued with clarity of thought and poetic intensity".[2] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Brodsky#cite_note-1) He was appointed American Poet Laureate (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poet_Laureate_Consultant_in_Poetry_to_the_Library_ of_Congress) in 1991.[3] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Brodsky#cite_note-2)


Let's see... born 1940, won Nobel in 1987...


I am sorry to say this, but you don't know shit :), no offense...

Thanks! None taken.

Rumpelstilzchen
08-Sep-2011, 15:35
I really love Herta Muller's work, but to be honest she was an odd choice. The reason is that she was relatively young, and what seems to be regarded as her chef d'oeuvre and best work to date (at least one of the two best along with Herztier), Atemschaukel, was published the same fall that she was awarded the prize. For a committee that is clearly so cautious about refraining from leaping to judgment on writers, I found that odd (it sort of suggests that they were prepared to give her the prize even before Atemschaukel was published, unless they had an advance copy...and if they did it's almost odder, since the Nobel is the furthest thing from a book of the year. They needed a half-century to decide that Grass deserved the prize for The Tin Drum, but an advance galley of Atemschaukel was enough for them??)

Personally I do not think Atemschaukel is her best work. I cannot follow your argument, first of all she is not that exceptionally young compared to other winners, second even without Atemschaukel she would have to be counted as a major writer, third maybe they had an advanced copy so what? Maybe the majority of the academy got blown away by her work prior to Atemschaukel and then the advance version of Atemschaukel did the final convincing. No, you are all making the same mistake, i.e. to equate "not well known author" with "odd choice".

Rumpelstilzchen
08-Sep-2011, 15:40
Let's see... born 1940, won Nobel in 1987...


No, thats not the point. How many Nobel laureats are there that got the prize below 50? A handful max.! It is ridiculous to blame the academy for not awarding an author that died with 47 with some of her major works just published shortly before that, it is plain ridiculous. They are not superhumans and as you can see from this thread here they have to deal with a lot of criticism already, so they have to take care. Don't get me wrong, I do not want to say that Frau Bachmann is not worthy of the prize, it is just wrong to count her as an "oversight". Would you count Proust as an oversight? Or Kafka?

Rumpelstilzchen
08-Sep-2011, 15:51
By the way, combining your reasoning, you would have called Bachmann a very odd choice :)

adaorardor
08-Sep-2011, 17:04
By the way, combining your reasoning, you would have called Bachmann a very odd choice :)

Get off your high horse, I think Herta Muller was a great choice but certainly a surprising one. I'm not calling her an odd choice because she "wasn't well known," if you read what I said. If you asked pretty much anyone before the Nobel announcement that year if Herta Muller had a shot, they would've said, "Yes, she certainly has a shot in the future but probably not this year -- still relatively young and just about to publish her most important or one of her most important works this year." How many mid-career authors can you name who won the Nobel the same year that they published a major work capable of redefining their oeuvre? Given the conservatism of the Nobel committee (from a canon formation standpoint, not a political one) it was certainly an odd choice.

Rumpelstilzchen
08-Sep-2011, 17:10
Get off your high horse, I think Herta Muller was a great choice but certainly a surprising one. I'm not calling her an odd choice because she "wasn't well known," if you read what I said. If you asked pretty much anyone before the Nobel announcement that year if Herta Muller had a shot, they would've said, "Yes, she certainly has a shot in the future but probably not this year -- still relatively young and just about to publish her most important or one of her most important works this year." How many mid-career authors can you name who won the Nobel the same year that they published a major work capable of redefining their oeuvre? Given the conservatism of the Nobel committee (from a canon formation standpoint, not a political one) it was certainly an odd choice.

Does this mean that you require a minimum age above 60 like Eric? I just do not see what the fact that she was about to publish a book has anything to do with the Nobel :confused:, do you want to say that 2 years later it would not have been a surprise? Are you kidding me? I cannot imagine the publication would have changed much with regards to her recognition outside of German speaking countries. Hmm, maybe yes, not sure, one never knows... But at least we can agree on her being a fantastic writer :)

Btw, the academy has repeatetly said in interviews or articles that they also concentrate on unearthing rather unknown authors. I do not think it is true that they are conservative with respect to canon formation, not at all.

One more thing, maybe it is only my opinion, but I cannot see why Atemschaukel is considered by so many (mostly journalists and bloggers and such people) to be her major and or most important work. Her books about the Romanian dictatorship are more important imo. Herztier is her major work in my opinion. At least I would say that Atemschaukel is not the only pinnacle.

But to settle this discussion, you are right that she was a suprise winner. This is GOOD imo. If Liehtzu meant this with "odd" than I am taking back everything.

anchomal
08-Sep-2011, 17:30
I actually think it would be a great thing if the academy chose primarily 'unknown' authors (by which, I mean not widely read in the west). The reputations and literary standing of writers like Tolstoy, Joyce, Nabokov and Borges have not been greatly hurt by the fact that they didn't win the Nobel (though I'm sure they would have enjoyed the money). I am very happy to have, in recent years, read books by the likes of le Clezio and Mahfouz, and could well have missed them had they not won the prize, which would have been a real shame. If V.S. Naipaul or J.M. Coetzee or Gabriel Garcia Marquez hadn't won, they'd still be wonderful writers, and widely acknowledged as such, just as Philip Roth will be even if he never wins.
Also, I've been thinking: are there any winners who have produced their greatest work after winning? The younger winners obviously have a better chance of achieving this, but do any come to mind?

Rumpelstilzchen
08-Sep-2011, 17:37
I cannot think of any... I know that Thomas Mann was nominated again after his win. I also know that some people consider his works after his win as equally important, therefore probably also the nomination... but I cannot comment further, I only read his works from before the Nobel win (and do not like them up to a few exceptions)...

anchomal
08-Sep-2011, 17:52
I suppose Gabriel Garcia Marquez wrote some good ones after his win (Love in the Time of Cholera being chief among them), but whether or not they are a match for One Hundred Years of Solitude is open to debate.

adaorardor
08-Sep-2011, 18:05
Does this mean that you require a minimum age above 60 like Eric? I just do not see what the fact that she was about to publish a book has anything to do with the Nobel :confused:, do you want to say that 2 years later it would not have been a surprise? Are you kidding me? I cannot imagine the publication would have changed much with regards to her recognition outside of German speaking countries. Hmm, maybe yes, not sure, one never knows... But at least we can agree on her being a fantastic writer :)

Btw, the academy has repeatetly said in interviews or articles that they also concentrate on unearthing rather unknown authors. I do not think it is true that they are conservative with respect to canon formation, not at all.

One more thing, maybe it is only my opinion, but I cannot see why Atemschaukel is considered by so many (mostly journalists and bloggers and such people) to be her major and or most important work. Her books about the Romanian dictatorship are more important imo. Herztier is her major work in my opinion. At least I would say that Atemschaukel is not the only pinnacle.

But to settle this discussion, you are right that she was a suprise winner. This is GOOD imo. If Liehtzu meant this with "odd" than I am taking back everything.

I think the Committee members see themselves as caretakers of the Prize's legacy. This is the most "prestigious" literary award in the world, for several reasons, and they want to make choices that will in retrospect enhance its prestige (the way the choice of a Beckett or) not detract from it or taint it. So they're careful. Which is one reason why I don't think it's coincidental that we've almost never seen a mid-career author win the Nobel in the same year that he or she published a work seen as major. It happens too infrequently to be coincidental, in my view, since, although they pick just as many writers who are in the later stages of their career, they also pick a lot of mid-career writers, they certainly do NOT require a minimum age of 60 (I wish you would stop putting words in my mouth, by the way). Seriously, who else? The Nobel people are just very careful...part of it is probably that they want to see how a major new work will be viewed by critics and readers (and how they themselves will view it), how it might redefine the writer's entire body of work in a more positive or negative direction..they want time to absorb the work. Also I'd think that they don't want to be PERCEIVED as being too reactive to what just happened: not only are they thoughtful, they want to create/maintain the impression of thoughtfulness. This could detract both from the image of the Prize itself but also from the impact that it could have on the recipient (i.e. people might dismiss it by saying, "Oh, Such and Such book just came out and the Nobel people got caught up in the excitement, if you had a more level head you would never pick so-and-so.")

I agree that it's a good think if they make surprising choices that bring deserving writers to greater acclaim/readership/recognition. In fact, if we think about the practical impact the Prize can have, from the standpoint of canon formation etc. then actually writers like Philip Roth, Salman Rushdie, Milan Kundera, etc. would almost be BAD choices. Receiving the prize would not really impact the readership/recognition that any of these writers has. It seems to me that the only good reason to pick a writer who already has such really deep appreciation and widespread readership globally is because you believe that writer is not just one of the 100ish living writers who might "deserve" the Prize at any one moment, but because you really believe he or she is one of the handful of "greatest" writers of their era (a Tolstoy, Proust, Joyce, Kafka, Musil, Borges, etc) -- and in that case the writer probably doesn't "need" the Prize at all, but it's the Prize itself which "needs" to have picked at least a certain number of these titans (Yeats, Faulkner, Beckett, Milosz) because otherwise, if NO ONE on the shortlist of "the century's greatest writers" received the Prize (and there will always be some of these writers who die young or underpublished, like Kafka), in the long run the Prize itself becomes less relevant.

Rumpelstilzchen
08-Sep-2011, 18:17
Which is one reason why I don't think it's coincidental that we've almost never seen a mid-career author win the Nobel in the same year that he or she published a work seen as major. It happens too infrequently to be coincidental, in my view, since, although they pick just as many writers who are in the later stages of their career, they also pick a lot of mid-career writers, they certainly do NOT require a minimum age of 60 (I wish you would stop putting words in my mouth, by the way). Seriously, who else? The Nobel people are just very careful...part of it is probably that they want to see how a major new work will be viewed by critics and readers (and how they themselves will view it), how it might redefine the writer's entire body of work in a more positive or negative direction..they want time to absorb the work. Also I'd think that they don't want to be PERCEIVED as being too reactive to what just happened: not only are they thoughtful, they want to create/maintain the impression of thoughtfulness. This could detract both from the image of the Prize itself but also from the impact that it could have on the recipient (i.e. people might dismiss it by saying, "Oh, Such and Such book just came out and the Nobel people got caught up in the excitement, if you had a more level head you would never pick so-and-so.")

Where did I put words in your mouth :confused: I just posed a question to better understand your post.

But who decides if an upcoming work is major?? How can anyone decide this at all before the book comes out??? Just because a book is long? Or just because it treats a certain topic?? According to the publisher every new work is major, I guess. Could it be just the other way around? The last work written before or around the Nobel win is seen as major just because of the win? Maybe Atemschaukel was only seen as major in the press around this time because it was nominated for the German book prize (which is a crap prize btw)? I would have to check the list of nobel winners in detail to comment on your claim. But even if it is true it would not prove anything, since it is just a matter of probability, the probability that the author publishes a major work during one year is very small... just because even the best authors did not publish a lot of major works :)

anchomal
08-Sep-2011, 18:22
It seems to me that the only good reason to pick a writer who already has such really deep appreciation and widespread readership globally is because you believe that writer is not just one of the 100ish living writers who might "deserve" the Prize at any one moment, but because you really believe he or she is one of the handful of "greatest" writers of their era (a Tolstoy, Proust, Joyce, Kafka, Musil, Borges, etc) -- and in that case the writer probably doesn't "need" the Prize at all, but it's the Prize itself which "needs" to have picked at least a certain number of these titans (Yeats, Faulkner, Beckett, Milosz) because otherwise, if NO ONE on the shortlist of "the century's greatest writers" received the Prize (and there will always be some of these writers who die young or underpublished, like Kafka), in the long run the Prize itself becomes less relevant.

Good point well made. So, are there any such writers out there? Or, to put it another way, are there any writers currently working who, if they don't win, will be regarded as a big miss to the list of laureates? There are, as has already been said, a number of excellent candidates, but there isn't room for everyone...
It's funny, too, how a few years can change perceptions. Last year, a lot of the big talk was for Ngugi Wa Thiong'o, but a few years back if any African was going to win would seemed that it would surely be Chinua Achebe. Philip Roth's stock was extremely high coming into the 2000s, after a great stretch of novels that cleaned up on the American prizes, but his recent efforts, a series of short novels, seem to have been less enthusiastically received.

Rumpelstilzchen
08-Sep-2011, 18:23
Come to think of it. No, I strongly disagree. If I would be in the academy and think that a mid-50 author is major and had just published another strong book I estimate to be major, then I would never hesitate to award the prize, why should I? It just does not make sense, does it? We are talking about an author that is quite advanced into his career and not a newbie.

adaorardor
08-Sep-2011, 18:30
Where did I put words in your mouth :confused: I just posed a question to better understand your post.

But who decides if an upcoming work is major?? How can anyone decide this at all before the book comes out??? Just because a book is long? Or just because it treats a certain topic?? According to the publisher every new work is major, I guess. Could it be just the other way around? The last work written before or around the Nobel win is seen as major just because of the win? Maybe Atemschaukel was only seen as major in the press around this time because it was nominated for the German book prize (which is a crap prize btw)? I would have to check the list of nobel winners in detail to comment on your claim. But even if it is true it would not probe anything, since it is just a matter of probability, the probability that the author publishes a major work during one year is very small...

First you said, "you are all making the same mistake, i.e. to equate "not well known author" with "odd choice". " and then you asked "Does this mean that you require a minimum age above 60 like Eric? " I didn't say anything of either kind.

adaorardor
08-Sep-2011, 18:32
Come to think of it. No, I strongly disagree. If I would be in the academy and think that a mid-50 author is major and had just published another strong book I estimate to be major, then I would never hesitate to award the prize.

Once again you misunderstand me or mischaracterize me. I too would operate this way when giving out the Prize, for several reasons, but DESCRIPTIVELY I don't think this is the way the Committee operates. As you say, we'd have to comb through the list of the mid-career writers who've been awarded the Prize to settle this.

Rumpelstilzchen
08-Sep-2011, 18:41
First you said, "you are all making the same mistake, i.e. to equate "not well known author" with "odd choice". " and then you asked "Does this mean that you require a minimum age above 60 like Eric? " I didn't say anything of either kind.
we are picky today, aren't we? ;)

Rumpelstilzchen
08-Sep-2011, 18:44
Once again you misunderstand me or mischaracterize me. I too would operate this way when giving out the Prize, for several reasons, but DESCRIPTIVELY I don't think this is the way the Committee operates. As you say, we'd have to comb through the list of the mid-career writers who've been awarded the Prize to settle this.
What I wanted to illustrate with this thought experiment is that I do not think that the academy is working like you are speculating because it does not make sense. I think this "major work" thing is mostly an invention by the press or in any case a very subjective and relative term that changes a lot with the years. I hope that the Nobel academy has enough guts to not care about the press.

adaorardor
08-Sep-2011, 18:44
Where did I put words in your mouth :confused: I just posed a question to better understand your post.

But who decides if an upcoming work is major?? How can anyone decide this at all before the book comes out??? Just because a book is long? Or just because it treats a certain topic?? According to the publisher every new work is major, I guess. Could it be just the other way around? The last work written before or around the Nobel win is seen as major just because of the win? Maybe Atemschaukel was only seen as major in the press around this time because it was nominated for the German book prize (which is a crap prize btw)? I would have to check the list of nobel winners in detail to comment on your claim. But even if it is true it would not prove anything, since it is just a matter of probability, the probability that the author publishes a major work during one year is very small... just because even the best authors did not publish a lot of major works :)

Well I could tell you which authors I personally think will be regarded as the greats of their era but haven't received the Prize, but not only would that list differ from others' lists, my list of the greatest authors of the past century would differ from others' lists of same too. But it wouldn't differ completely...not every smart and knowledgeable person would have the same list, but if you looked at a lot of such lists you'd find names recurring. From the time that the Prize was instituted, those names would include (without being limited to), for English-language writers, James, Conrad, Joyce, Nabokov, Stevens, Dinesen...or for French-language writers, Proust, Celine, Genet, Cioran, Yourcenar...

Current names? I don't know. It's really a separate topic and almost calls for a separate post, future canon forecasting is different than guessing who'll get the Nobel Prize six weeks from now.

adaorardor
08-Sep-2011, 18:46
What I wanted to illustrate with this thought experiment is that I do not think that the academy is working like you are speculating. I think this "major work" thing is mostly an invention by the press. I hope that the Nobel academy has enough guts to not care about the press.

But the fact that you would do something if you were in the academy's shoes certainly doesn't illustrate at all the way the academy is actually operating. I would do many things that the Academy indisputably does NOT do.

Rumpelstilzchen
08-Sep-2011, 19:08
But the fact that you would do something if you were in the academy's shoes certainly doesn't illustrate at all the way the academy is actually operating. I would do many things that the Academy indisputably does NOT do.

Sure thing. But I still think it is nonsensical what your are saying and since the academy consists of rational thinking persons (like I hope to be one) I guess they would not do nonsensical things. Again, take an author, lets call him M.. M. is 56 years old for example. M. has written two dozen works of various size over a period of around 30 years. Poems, essays, shorter prose works and a bunch of novels. One of those novels was written like 15 years ago, got various important awards (also in translation). The author has been hailed by critics for more than a decade as a major writer. M. is standing out due to his political integrity: writes against an oppressing regime, got larger problems due to this and left the country in the end. Now this writer has just published another fantastic novel-like work that has been nominated for a major national book award, so we have an addition to an ALREADY grand body of work. Now we are shifting the viewpoint to an international literature prize jury that mostly awards the prize to a body of work and NOT to a single book. Please tell me what would speak against the award at this stage? I just cannot see it, please enlighten me.

What I just do not see: how does this last book go into the check? I understand that they are careful and better wait longer until they can be more sure (therefore an avarage laureate age of around 65), but what has this last book to do with this?

Rumpelstilzchen
08-Sep-2011, 19:18
I can understand that Herta Müller was a suprise choice, because she was relatively unkown or because she was relatively young, but I cannot understand that it should be a suprise that she got it because she just wrote another grand book adding to grand body of work. It should be exactly the other way around: another great book is an additional argument to give her the award. If she would have been a mid-career author without a really major book up to this date, it would make sense as you are speculating, but not like this.

adaorardor
08-Sep-2011, 19:24
I can understand that Herta Müller was a suprise choice, because she was relatively unkown or because she was relatively young, but I cannot understand that it should be a suprise that she got it because she just wrote another grand book adding to grand body of work. It should be exactly the other way around. If she would have been a mid-career author without a really major book up to this date, it would make sense as you are speculating, but not like this.

No, it's the COMBINATION of relative youth with a major new work coming out just as they give her the Prize, and the rationale I'd ascribe to them is, as I said, that they don't want to be PERCEIVED as being too reactive to what just happened: not only are they thoughtful, they want to create/maintain the impression of thoughtfulness.

anchomal
08-Sep-2011, 19:42
Herta Muller is a great writer who, I think, definitely deserved the prize, but her win was a surprise because of her age. She, like Pamuk, could reasonably have waited a few years.
It's funny that she should have seemed so relatively unknown in the west, though. Something like ten years earlier, her novel, The Land of Green Plums, won in the International IMPAC Award, one of the world's biggest monetary prizes for a single work of fiction. The IMPAC is an unusual award because it is open to any book published or translated into English (thereby casting its net much more widely than, for example, the Booker), and over the years has thrown up some fascinating shortlists. This year, though, the shortlist was dominated by English-language works. I hope this will not become a trend (incidentally, this year's International Booker was also a lot less language-diverse than previous years...).

Rumpelstilzchen
08-Sep-2011, 20:03
No, it's the COMBINATION of relative youth with a major new work coming out just as they give her the Prize, and the rationale I'd ascribe to them is, as I said, that they don't want to be PERCEIVED as being too reactive to what just happened: not only are they thoughtful, they want to create/maintain the impression of thoughtfulness.

Ok, I see your point and I agree that they certainly want to appear thoughtful. But another of my arguments is that something like a "major new work coming" is a nonsensical term in itself. It is an invention by publishers and newspapers. Every new work is a potential major work. Even though you did not answer my question explicitely, i.e. how a single work can be defined as major (you only mentioned authors), you answered the question, because the same solution as for authors also works for single works: the major works of an author are the books that are recognized by the majority of the important and influent critics/professors and other relevant people as most important works, right? Or by the public if you want, but then the list of major works will be a different one. Ok, but this takes some years, maybe even decades and most of the time never will be really unambiguous. Atemschaukel came out like two months before the Nobel announcement and AFTER the Nobel committee decided the short list, so any statement about a possible significance of the work could have been mostly based on questionable or advance information directly from the author or publisher or mabye some insiders. And do you really know that the question was in the air at all at the time if this could be an important book? How? Do you have references? It was on the German book prize long- or shortlist just one of many books, certainly one by an important author, but you will always find such books there (mostly they do not win as in this case).

With this I tried to make a point that there is nothing like a major work directly before or after publication, there are just indications that a work could be seen as major in the long run. Going further this would mean that the Nobel academy could never give the prize in a year where a potential major (i.e. any) work appears (the major property often based on questionable sources). I admit that you have made some very good points in your argumentation, but I simply cannot see this conclusion. They had enough time to study this book. She was nominated at least the second time, so they were already familiar with her to some extent. I simply cannot see good reason to wait some more years just to see how the recognition for this single book changed with the years. But ok, I admit, that might be my problem :).

And let me add that I think that the academy has quite some backbone. I am convined that if they are convinced that an author is worth it, that they will go ahead. The will be able to maintain the apperance of thoughtfulness, I think. The press and amateurs in literaure forums will take them apart in any case ;)

Thanks god this discussion is not off-topic :), else we would get a severe punishment by Eric soon...

Rumpelstilzchen
08-Sep-2011, 20:26
It's funny that she should have seemed so relatively unknown in the west, though. Something like ten years earlier, her novel, The Land of Green Plums, won in the International IMPAC Award, one of the world's biggest monetary prizes for a single work of fiction.

Yes, good question, but maybe the real experts and insiders knew her perfectly well due to this and it was only the newspapers and journalists that ignored her?

adaorardor
09-Sep-2011, 00:05
Ok, I see your point and I agree that they certainly want to appear thoughtful. But another of my arguments is that something like a "major new work coming" is a nonsensical term in itself. It is an invention by publishers and newspapers. Every new work is a potential major work. Even though you did not answer my question explicitely, i.e. how a single work can be defined as major (you only mentioned authors), you answered the question, because the same solution as for authors also works for single works: the major works of an author are the books that are recognized by the majority of the important and influent critics/professors and other relevant people as most important works, right? Or by the public if you want, but then the list of major works will be a different one. Ok, but this takes some years, maybe even decades and most of the time never will be really unambiguous. Atemschaukel came out like two months before the Nobel announcement and AFTER the Nobel committee decided the short list, so any statement about a possible significance of the work could have been mostly based on questionable or advance information directly from the author or publisher or mabye some insiders. And do you really know that the question was in the air at all at the time if this could be an important book? How? Do you have references? It was on the German book prize long- or shortlist just one of many books, certainly one by an important author, but you will always find such books there (mostly they do not win as in this case).

With this I tried to make a point that there is nothing like a major work directly before or after publication, there are just indications that a work could be seen as major in the long run. Going further this would mean that the Nobel academy could never give the prize in a year where a potential major (i.e. any) work appears (the major property often based on questionable sources). I admit that you have made some very good points in your argumentation, but I simply cannot see this conclusion. They had enough time to study this book. She was nominated at least the second time, so they were already familiar with her to some extent. I simply cannot see good reason to wait some more years just to see how the recognition for this single book changed with the years. But ok, I admit, that might be my problem :).

And let me add that I think that the academy has quite some backbone. I am convined that if they are convinced that an author is worth it, that they will go ahead. The will be able to maintain the apperance of thoughtfulness, I think. The press and amateurs in literaure forums will take them apart in any case ;)

Thanks god this discussion is not off-topic :), else we would get a severe punishment by Eric soon...

Thanks, that's quite a sensible objection and it helps me sharpen my argument. In fact it's not so much the "major-ness" in critical/artistic/audience reception terms of the new work that I think might make the Committee hang fire for at least another year, but the "buzz" around the work in the media, which sometimes indicates a major work and sometimes just indicates, well, hype. The Committee wouldn't want to seem like it was a reed twisting in the fickle winds of media hype. In the case of Atemschaukel my impression was that it was greatly hyped - partly because of quality, perhaps, but also partly because of the "Important" historical subject, and partly because of the Oskar-Pastior's-death link - and viewed as the frontrunner for the German Book Prize.

I would have been equally surprised if, say, David Grossman received the Prize in 2008, the same year as his last and much-hyped (partly for its reported quality, partly for its "Important" theme re: Palestine-Israel, partly for the personal tragedy his family suffered which related to the book) To the End of the Land was published. Muller in 2009- 56 years old. Grossman in 2008- 54 years old. Both works were very hyped, both are seen as a major work for the author (although not necessarily the most major- Herztier for Muller and See Under: LOVE for Grossman may still be the highest peaks). Both writers were outstanding brilliant artists deserving of the Prize based on their work previous to the latest novel. If Grossman had gotten the Prize in 2008 I wouldn't have been surprised at all that they chose him but quite surprised that they chose him that year; same with Muller. We may just agree to disagree on this, but that is my line of thinking.

Eric
09-Sep-2011, 00:52
I agree with Anchomal (#448) that it would be nice if an unknown author won. But he or she must also deserve it, not merely be a "token" unknown author.

I think that "a minimum age of 60" would be another silly and pedantic rule. However, I do think that maybe the author should have written at least, let's say, ten works. So that someone in his or her forties who has written only three brilliant novels and four books of beautiful essays is maybe not yet Nobel material. I do see the whole body work as an argument as to whether to give the candidate the Nobel or not. And it must be reasonably substantial, and smack of erudition, thoughtfulness, scholarship, elegance, and a non-fundamentalist view of life. So I'm not betting on Irvine Welsh, for example.

Scott89119
09-Sep-2011, 01:55
I actually think it would be a great thing if the academy chose primarily 'unknown' authors (by which, I mean not widely read in the west). The reputations and literary standing of writers like Tolstoy, Joyce, Nabokov and Borges have not been greatly hurt by the fact that they didn't win the Nobel (though I'm sure they would have enjoyed the money). I am very happy to have, in recent years, read books by the likes of le Clezio and Mahfouz, and could well have missed them had they not won the prize, which would have been a real shame. If V.S. Naipaul or J.M. Coetzee or Gabriel Garcia Marquez hadn't won, they'd still be wonderful writers, and widely acknowledged as such, just as Philip Roth will be even if he never wins.
Also, I've been thinking: are there any winners who have produced their greatest work after winning? The younger winners obviously have a better chance of achieving this, but do any come to mind?

The only one that immediately springs to mind is O'Neill's Long Day's Journey Into Night.

adaorardor
09-Sep-2011, 02:40
I agree with Anchomal (#448) that it would be nice if an unknown author won. But he or she must also deserve it, not merely be a "token" unknown author.

I think that "a minimum age of 60" would be another silly and pedantic rule. However, I do think that maybe the author should have written at least, let's say, ten works. So that someone in his or her forties who has written only three brilliant novels and four books of beautiful essays is maybe not yet Nobel material. I do see the whole body work as an argument as to whether to give the candidate the Nobel or not. And it must be reasonably substantial, and smack of erudition, thoughtfulness, scholarship, elegance, and a non-fundamentalist view of life. So I'm not betting on Irvine Welsh, for example.

Bright-line rules like "10 works" are not a good way to go, both Proust and Joyce wold be disqualified, for instance.

Rumpelstilzchen
09-Sep-2011, 09:36
Thanks, that's quite a sensible objection and it helps me sharpen my argument. In fact it's not so much the "major-ness" in critical/artistic/audience reception terms of the new work that I think might make the Committee hang fire for at least another year, but the "buzz" around the work in the media, which sometimes indicates a major work and sometimes just indicates, well, hype. The Committee wouldn't want to seem like it was a reed twisting in the fickle winds of media hype. In the case of Atemschaukel my impression was that it was greatly hyped - partly because of quality, perhaps, but also partly because of the "Important" historical subject, and partly because of the Oskar-Pastior's-death link - and viewed as the frontrunner for the German Book Prize.

I would have been equally surprised if, say, David Grossman received the Prize in 2008, the same year as his last and much-hyped (partly for its reported quality, partly for its "Important" theme re: Palestine-Israel, partly for the personal tragedy his family suffered which related to the book) To the End of the Land was published. Muller in 2009- 56 years old. Grossman in 2008- 54 years old. Both works were very hyped, both are seen as a major work for the author (although not necessarily the most major- Herztier for Muller and See Under: LOVE for Grossman may still be the highest peaks). Both writers were outstanding brilliant artists deserving of the Prize based on their work previous to the latest novel. If Grossman had gotten the Prize in 2008 I wouldn't have been surprised at all that they chose him but quite surprised that they chose him that year; same with Muller. We may just agree to disagree on this, but that is my line of thinking.

Ah, ok, yes this sounds really interesting!! You could be right with this. Though I am not sure if the academy would not like to insist on their total independence of any outside influence and therefore ignore the buzz. We should ask a member of the academy to comment on this :). Personally I do not remember very well the months before the Nobel announcement in 2009, I can remember that the press hyped her in retrospective and pointed to the connection with the German book prize, but I cannot clearly remember if it they already did this before the Nobel announcement or before she jumped to the top of the betting lists. Maybe I will look up some old newspaper articles from that time to get some information on this...

Rumpelstilzchen
09-Sep-2011, 09:37
Bright-line rules like "10 works" are not a good way to go, both Proust and Joyce wold be disqualified, for instance.

Yes, definitely right! I guess, also the academy wants as much intellectual flexibility as possible.

Eric
09-Sep-2011, 10:35
Ada or Ardor says in #470 that 10 is no good as a rule either but nor is 3, 37, or 101. I was simply pointing out the oeuvre issue. If you go by the numbers of pages published, I'm sure Proust would quality, but so would Knausgĺrd, I suppose.

What I'm pointing out is that the whole of the writer's oeuvre should be considered, and if that is still tiny, or all within one genre, there is perhaps less justification for giving him or her the prize. Every rule made would have its exception, but as I said, the body of work should be biggish and varied.

What about Ivo Michiels (pseudonym of Henri Ceuppens)? Never heard of him? Well, he's been writing two longish suites of novels, plus other work, for the past forty or fifty years. He lives in Provence, but is a Fleming and therefore writes in Dutch:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivo_Michiels

That Wikipedia entry is useless, but there's not much on him in English, except:

http://www.greeninteger.com/book-digital.cfm?-Michiels-Alpha-Cycle-1-&BookID=294

In French:

http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivo_Michiels

Rumpelstilzchen
09-Sep-2011, 10:48
What I'm pointing out is that the whole of the writer's oeuvre should be considered, and if that is still tiny, or all within one genre, there is perhaps less justification for giving him or her the prize. Every rule made would have its exception, but as I said, the body of work should be biggish and varied.


Hmm, I think I would disagree with parts of this. In the past they gave also gave it to writers mainly for single works. Ok, but this has not happened for some time, true! And it makes sense to take the whole work into account. But why should it be biggish and/or varied? I think the quality of the major ( :o ) works should matter, right? I even go as far as claiming that if half of the work of a specific author is considered as excrement but the other half as divine (I am exaggerating), then the bad half of the workd can just be ignored and should not very much affect the decision on his worthiness. The altitude and abundance of the peaks is what counts.

adaorardor
09-Sep-2011, 18:06
Ah, ok, yes this sounds really interesting!! You could be right with this. Though I am not sure if the academy would not like to insist on their total independence of any outside influence and therefore ignore the buzz. We should ask a member of the academy to comment on this :). Personally I do not remember very well the months before the Nobel announcement in 2009, I can remember that the press hyped her in retrospective and pointed to the connection with the German book prize, but I cannot clearly remember if it they already did this before the Nobel announcement or before she jumped to the top of the betting lists. Maybe I will look up some old newspaper articles from that time to get some information on this...

You may be right..My sense is that the hype really did precede the Nobel announcement, but not by very long in chronological terms -- i.e. the novel was only released in late August, by which time they were already down to the 5- or 6-writer shortlist. That late in the game, if they already were leaning towards giving it to her, no one would want to be the person in the room to stand up and say, "She's the favorite for the German book prize and set for a lot of press anyway, let's emphasize our independence by waiting a few years." Some of these factors are things that undoubtedly have an impact on the process, as each individual member thinks internally about who to suggest/what to say/how to vote/etc, but are probably not voiced openly in deliberation proceedings -- for instance, I am fairly sure political factors work like this.

adaorardor
09-Sep-2011, 18:10
Hmm, I think I would disagree with parts of this. In the past they gave also gave it to writers mainly for single works. Ok, but this has not happened for some time, true! And it makes sense to take the whole work into account. But why should it be biggish and/or varied? I think the quality of the major ( :o ) works should matter, right? I even go as far as claiming that if half of the work of a specific author is considered as excrement but the other half as divine (I am exaggerating), then the bad half of the workd can just be ignored and should not very much affect the decision on his worthiness. The altitude and abundance of the peaks is what counts.

I pretty much agree with this. You can't have any quota, even a vague one, either for number of words or for page count. A paqe count quota would really work against some poets, for instance. What the Academy cares about most of all is probably how the authors they pick end up being viewed historically, and there are even prose writers who produce very few pages but go down as major figures in the history of literature for the quality and originality of those pages -- think of Bruno Schulz, for instance!

adaorardor
09-Sep-2011, 18:16
Herta Muller is a great writer who, I think, definitely deserved the prize, but her win was a surprise because of her age. She, like Pamuk, could reasonably have waited a few years.
It's funny that she should have seemed so relatively unknown in the west, though. Something like ten years earlier, her novel, The Land of Green Plums, won in the International IMPAC Award, one of the world's biggest monetary prizes for a single work of fiction. The IMPAC is an unusual award because it is open to any book published or translated into English (thereby casting its net much more widely than, for example, the Booker), and over the years has thrown up some fascinating shortlists. This year, though, the shortlist was dominated by English-language works. I hope this will not become a trend (incidentally, this year's International Booker was also a lot less language-diverse than previous years...).

I agree completely on several points. The IMPAC is in my view one of the most prestigious awards in the world, because of the submission guidelines, the monetary award, and the history of consistently interesting shortlists but also winners! Marias, Muller, Houellebecq, Pamuk -- and for many or most of these authors it was one of or the first major international prize. In several of the last few years the shortlist has been overly English-language-dominated, though, which is a concern.

adaorardor
09-Sep-2011, 18:29
Ada or Ardor says in #470 that 10 is no good as a rule either but nor is 3, 37, or 101. I was simply pointing out the oeuvre issue. If you go by the numbers of pages published, I'm sure Proust would quality, but so would Knausgĺrd, I suppose.

What I'm pointing out is that the whole of the writer's oeuvre should be considered, and if that is still tiny, or all within one genre, there is perhaps less justification for giving him or her the prize. Every rule made would have its exception, but as I said, the body of work should be biggish and varied.

What about Ivo Michiels (pseudonym of Henri Ceuppens)? Never heard of him? Well, he's been writing two longish suites of novels, plus other work, for the past forty or fifty years. He lives in Provence, but is a Fleming and therefore writes in Dutch:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivo_Michiels

That Wikipedia entry is useless, but there's not much on him in English, except:

http://www.greeninteger.com/book-digital.cfm?-Michiels-Alpha-Cycle-1-&BookID=294

In French:

http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivo_Michiels

Michiels sounds quite interesting (particularly the praise from Beckett). Do you know how the Green Integer translation of Book Alpha and Orcis Militaris is?

Sevastefo
09-Sep-2011, 18:37
I would like to put some portuguese/brazilian names on the table, just to encourage the discussion.
I think, the first name always come to our minds is Antonio Lobo Antunes, but, probably because of that the Nobel committee rule out him as a good choice.
Other two names that may be considered are Nélida Pińón (the best Brazilian option) and Agustina Bessa-Luís, a living classic, heiress of European traditions...(so, a typical and expected choice...the only disadvantage is her age… she's 88..and as you have discussed, it hasn't be usual prizewinning writers of that age)
and, other names that come to my head now are Herberto Helder - a big poet, and misanthrope -, Rubem Fonseca and Autran Dourado. about the last two, i have just heard good comments, but I’ve never read them...

Eric
11-Sep-2011, 11:40
As I read Dutch, I have never read any Michiels in English, and although I knew of this translation, I have never actually seen it. The other cycle has never been translated into English. There are various small things sprinkled about, including a very typical Michiels fragment in "The Dedalus Book of Flemish Literature". I started the first volume of the other cycle and found it hard going, thought I am convinced that a publishing house such as Dalkey would love it. That cycle has eight volumes which I bought when in the Netherlands, as virtually nothing by him is available in any language in Sweden. And I want to read the originals one day. So my "promotion" of Michiels as Nobel candidate is based more on a hunch than solid knowledge.

Eric
11-Sep-2011, 11:53
The following is what the blurb on the back of the Alpha Cycle (five books of a total of some 700 pages, bound in one volume) says:


The central problem of the whole of the oeuvre of Ivo Michiels could be formulated as follows: how can the permanent presence of violence, because it is structural, be shown so that it is not made aesthetic, and thus made acceptable? Or: how can one combine violence and art? The fact that Michiels’ work is still regarded as difficult is incomprehensible... The resistance that this prose elicits is of the same order as the way that psychoanalysis encounters in university circles and those of official medicine: it brings to the surface something painful. The universal neurotic need to repeat oneself, and impotence. No explanations are sought for this phenomenon; Michiels shows them immediately without any moralising. No one is expected to be converted, you can’t escape that easily; the reader is forced into repetition, and so to awareness.

Cyrille Offermans (in 1980).

Eric
11-Sep-2011, 12:08
I was just looking at the names that Sevastefo has mentioned, and have tried to find out more about Nélida Pińón. The Wikipedia reduces her to just another writer, but I found a good website which is, alas, only available in Portuguese, which means I miss at least half of what is written there. But even such superficial skimming does suggest that she is a most interesting writer, worlds away from "Mr Typical Brazilian Writer of Great Genius" Paolo Coelho, although she too has spent some time in the USA:

http://www.nelidapinon.com.br/autora/aut_biografia.php

Why have I never heard of her before?

Eric
11-Sep-2011, 12:31
For those of us that are almost helpless when it comes to the Portuguese language, I have found that translations of Nélida Pińón's works do exist in the English language:


The Republic of Dreams (1991; University of Texas Press; translator Helen Lane)

Caetana's Sweet Song (1992; Knopf; translator Helen Lane)

Voices of the Desert (2009; Knopf; translator Clifford E. Landers)

Mr. Search
11-Sep-2011, 21:13
The following is what the blurb on the back of the Alpha Cycle (five books of a total of some 700 pages, bound in one volume) says:

Eric, as a reader of Dutch literature, what do you think of the youngish generation of writers from Holland (such as Arnon Grunberg)?

Septularisen
12-Sep-2011, 11:19
Ada or Ardor says in #470 that 10 is no good as a rule either but nor is 3, 37, or 101. I was simply pointing out the oeuvre issue. If you go by the numbers of pages published, I'm sure Proust would quality, but so would Knausgĺrd, I suppose.

What I'm pointing out is that the whole of the writer's oeuvre should be considered, and if that is still tiny, or all within one genre, there is perhaps less justification for giving him or her the prize. Every rule made would have its exception, but as I said, the body of work should be biggish and varied.

What about Ivo Michiels (pseudonym of Henri Ceuppens)? Never heard of him? Well, he's been writing two longish suites of novels, plus other work, for the past forty or fifty years. He lives in Provence, but is a Fleming and therefore writes in Dutch:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivo_Michiels

That Wikipedia entry is useless, but there's not much on him in English, except:

http://www.greeninteger.com/book-digital.cfm?-Michiels-Alpha-Cycle-1-&BookID=294

In French:

http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivo_Michiels


From what I know, after the death of Hugo CLAUS (1929-2008) , the only really serious Belgian candidate which I hear is Pierre MERTENS (1939), but why not Ivo MICHIELS?...

Eric
12-Sep-2011, 13:12
Septularisen, have you read much Michiels? There is a major difference between Mertens and Michiels in that Mertens writes in French, while Michiels (like Claus did) writes in Dutch. The Dutch language as such (Maeterlinck wrote in French) has never been that of a Nobel winner ever. So there is stiill time for someone writing in Dutch to be a first - though it is more likely to be Cees Nooteboom, now that Harry Mulisch is no longer in the race. Has any Michiels been translated into French, Italian, German, I wonder?

Septularisen
13-Sep-2011, 13:54
Of course one of the major oversights for the prize was - and I know you're thinking Virginia Woolf! but no! - Anna Akhmatova, the great Russian poet. Else Lasker-Schuler, Ingeborg Bachmann, umm, Marguerite Yourcenar, Rebecca West, Edith Wharton, Willa Cather, Enchi Fumiko maybe, umm...
You can add : Simone de BEAUVOIR, Gabriele WOHMANN , Marguerite DURAS, Nathalie SARRAUTE, Anna SEGHERS, Susan SONTAG, Muriel SPARK, Elsa TRIOLET, Janet FRAME, Inger CHRISTENSEN...

Septularisen
13-Sep-2011, 14:06
Septularisen, have you read much Michiels? There is a major difference between Mertens and Michiels in that Mertens writes in French, while Michiels (like Claus did) writes in Dutch. The Dutch language as such (Maeterlinck wrote in French) has never been that of a Nobel winner ever. So there is stiill time for someone writing in Dutch to be a first - though it is more likely to be Cees Nooteboom, now that Harry Mulisch is no longer in the race. Has any Michiels been translated into French, Italian, German, I wonder?
No I never read Ivo MICHIELS but I confirm that some of his books are translated into French.

For the rest I'am agree with you, it is very strange that an author from the Netherlands never received the Nobel...

As I know the candidatures of : Louis COUPERUS (1863-1923) Henriette ROLAND HOLST VAN DER SCHALK (1869-1952) Johan HUIZINGA (1872-1945), Simon VESTDIJK (1898-1971) Theun De VRIES (1907-2005), Jan de HARTOG (1914-2002), Willem Frederik HERMANS (1921-1995) Gerard REVE (1923-2006) and Harry MULISCH (1928-2010) are passed into the hands of the Nobel Committee, but not one going through...

Septularisen
13-Sep-2011, 14:11
Septularisen, have you read much Michiels? There is a major difference between Mertens and Michiels in that Mertens writes in French, while Michiels (like Claus did) writes in Dutch. The Dutch language as such (Maeterlinck wrote in French) has never been that of a Nobel winner ever. So there is stiill time for someone writing in Dutch to be a first - though it is more likely to be Cees Nooteboom, now that Harry Mulisch is no longer in the race. Has any Michiels been translated into French, Italian, German, I wonder?

And for the Belgium you can add the candidatures off : Emile VERHAEREN (1855-1916), Stijn STREVELS (1871-1949), Herman TEIRLINCK (1879-1967), Gerald WALSCHAP (1898-1984), Louis Paul BOON (1912-1979), Hubert LAMPO (1920-2006) and... Hugo CLAUS (1929-2008)...
Ass discuss... only Maurice MAETERLINCK received the Nobel!...

peter_d
13-Sep-2011, 16:50
Hi everyone. It's been some time. I was actually surprised that I remembered my password.

I don't want to be a sour error-corrector, but Stijn Streuvels (not Strevels) actually lived 20 years longer than you suggested in your post. He passed away in 1969 and published his last 'original' work in 1962 when he was 90 years old. As a Dutch I never fully understood his prose, influenced as it was by a local Flemmish dialect.

On a different note, am I correct that there are no betting lists (e.g. the traditional Ladbrokes one) up?

Rumpelstilzchen
13-Sep-2011, 17:30
Actually there are some already (but not Ladbrokes, yet), Hans mentioned them in his post here:


I've been following this particular thread and its siblings for a couple of years without surfacing to comment and will probably mainly continue to do so. However, I'd like to point out a web page I did about the odds for the Nobel Prize in Literature.

The page http://familjen-persson.se/nobel/odds-today.html shows a compilation of the odds from unibet.com, betus.com.pa, and victorchandler.com. I'll add in ladbrokes.com when they start their betting. Let me know if there are more similar sites I should add.

The page lists each person being bet on from at least one site and all the odds given for that person. Persons are listed by lowest average odds on the current day. At the end of the page, there is also a section that shows any changes to the day before ("<" means yesterday and ">" means today).

The page is regenerated each day just before midnight Swedish time.

Hans

anchomal
13-Sep-2011, 18:06
You can add : Simone de BEAUVOIR, Gabriele WOHMANN , Marguerite DURAS, Nathalie SARRAUTE, Anna SEGHERS, Susan SONTAG, Muriel SPARK, Elsa TRIOLET, Janet FRAME, Inger CHRISTENSEN...

Do you feel that all of these were actual oversights (or, to put it more bluntly, mistakes) on the part of the Nobel committee? If so, who should they have won the prize instead of? Because with one prize a year, a lot of worthy candidates will necessarily be passed over.

liehtzu
13-Sep-2011, 23:51
No, thats not the point. How many Nobel laureats are there that got the prize below 50? A handful max.! It is ridiculous to blame the academy for not awarding an author that died with 47 with some of her major works just published shortly before that, it is plain ridiculous. They are not superhumans and as you can see from this thread here they have to deal with a lot of criticism already, so they have to take care. Don't get me wrong, I do not want to say that Frau Bachmann is not worthy of the prize, it is just wrong to count her as an "oversight". Would you count Proust as an oversight? Or Kafka?

Albert Camus (7 November 1913 – 4 January 1960) was a French author, journalist, and key philosopher of the 20th century. In 1949, Camus founded the Group for International Liaisons (http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Group_for_International_Liaisons&action=edit&redlink=1) within the Revolutionary Union Movement (http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Revolutionary_Union_Movement&action=edit&redlink=1), which was opposed to some tendencies of the Surrealist movement of André Breton (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/André_Breton).
Camus was awarded the 1957 Nobel Prize for Literature (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nobel_Prize_for_Literature)

Joseph Rudyard Kipling (30 December 1865 – 18 January 1936)was an English poet, short-story writer, and novelist chiefly remembered for his celebration of British imperialism, tales and poems of British soldiers in India, and his tales for children. In 1907 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Nobel_laureates_in_Literature) he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nobel_Prize_in_Literature), making him the first English-language writer to receive the prize, and to date he remains its youngest recipient.



These are two more I can think of off the top of my head. So despite your no doubt insightful comment about my not knowing shit (how I marvel at the sophisticated ways so many on this forum have at expressing themselves), apparently I'm right and you're wrong. Your original comment was that Ms. Bachmann was somehow incapable of winning the Nobel at her age. So no, it was not off the board of possibilities, as Mr. Brodsky, Camus, and Kipling demonstrate. Of course, no one expected her to die when she did and no, I don't consider her a major oversight for the prize - nor do I "blame" (!) the academy (no, I can see it... shaking fists at sky: "Curse you, academy! Curse you!") for not awarding it to her. Of the authors I listed I count Anna Akhmatova alone as a major oversight - but then again I'm not sure how much of her poetry was available in quality translations by the time she died, or what the political repercussions would have been had they given it to her. I was simply listing women who I thought might have been possible contenders, and a little surprised at how few I could come up with off the top of my head. Proust and Kafka were not major oversights. The former was a case of death while in the process of writing the magnum opus, the latter published almost nothing during his lifetime. Besides, their reputations (as is Joyce's, Tolstoy's, Nabokov's) are quite secure sans Nobel.

The point is you might want to consider doing a little more homework before you grace us with further articulate insights into how little everyone else knows. Peace.

Liam
14-Sep-2011, 00:00
Why don't the two of you add each other to your respective Ignore Lists and move on with your lives? :)

Daniel del Real
14-Sep-2011, 00:01
Speaking about omissions Lev Tolstoi could have gotten the award in the first years. He died until 1910 so they had 10 years to give them the prize and they didn't. Now my question is if at that time there were any translations to a more common European language (French, German or English). In those times translations took a lot more time than they take right now, but he was already too famous in Russia and I believe at least a French translation was available. Is there any information if at least he was nominated during those years?

Liam
14-Sep-2011, 00:03
I thought he was already swimming in money by the time he wrote Anna Karenina. Unlike Dostoyevsky or Chekhov. Or any of the Silver Age poets.

adaorardor
14-Sep-2011, 00:19
Speaking about omissions Lev Tolstoi could have gotten the award in the first years. He died until 1910 so they had 10 years to give them the prize and they didn't. Now my question is if at that time there were any translations to a more common European language (French, German or English). In those times translations took a lot more time than they take right now, but he was already too famous in Russia and I believe at least a French translation was available. Is there any information if at least he was nominated during those years?

Come on, Tolstoy was one of if not the most famous writer in the world then. From the Prize official website:

"In the first year, the number of nominations was 25. In the early time of the Prize the members of the Swedish Academy were reluctant to use their right to nominate candidates. Impartiality suggested that proposals should come from outside. As no one abroad nominated Tolstoy in 1901, the self-evident candidate of the time fell outside the discussion. The omission caused a strong reaction from Swedish writers and artists who sent an address to Tolstoy - who answered by declining any future prize."

http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/articles/espmark/

Eric
14-Sep-2011, 01:17
Septularisen #488. If I were to choose one of those Dutch writers from the past from the Nobel it would be Simon Vestdijk.

Daniel del Real
14-Sep-2011, 01:21
The link provided by adaorardor is very explanatory about another one of the big names neglected by the Swedish Academy: Emile Zola


The first stage, from 1901 to 1912, has the stamp of the secretary Carl David af Wirsén, who read Nobel's "ideal" as "a lofty and sound idealism". The set of criteria which resulted in Prizes to Bjřrnstierne Bjřrnson (http://www.worldliteratureforum.com/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/1903/index.html), Rudyard Kipling (http://www.worldliteratureforum.com/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/1907/index.html) and Paul Heyse (http://www.worldliteratureforum.com/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/1910/index.html), but rejected Leo Tolstoy, Henrik Ibsen and Émile Zola, is characterized by its conservative idealism (a domestic variation of Hegelian philosophy), holding church, state and family sacred, and by its idealist aesthetics derived from Goethe's and Hegel's epoch (and codified by F.T. Fischer in the middle of the nineteenth century). Those standards had earlier been typical of Wirsén's and the Academy's struggle against the radical Scandinavian writers. Nobel's testament gave Wirsén – called "the Don Quixote of Swedish romantic idealism" – the opportunity to carry his provincial campaign into the fields of international literature. This application was actually far from Nobel's values: he certainly shared Wirsén's disgust for writers like Zola, but was radically anticleric, adopting Shelley's utopian idealism and religiously coloured spirit of revolt.


If the secretary detested Zola and considering he died in 1902, having only two years to grant him the prize, it now appears as an obvious decision.

liehtzu
14-Sep-2011, 07:14
Given the "lofty idealism" mentioned in the will, it's no surprise that Zola and Strindberg were never awarded. But again, as with Kafka, Proust, Joyce, Tolstoy, even without the Nobel their reputations remain secure.

Eric:

I started a thread on Pinon, with links to reviews of two of her books, some time ago. Didn't get much traffic, that one. I picked up The Republic of Dreams a couple years back, but it's currently in a box in my friend's garage in Thailand.

Liam:

Disagreeing with someone is one thing. Saying "I disagree with you and here's why," at which point you give a coherent reason, is perfectly acceptable. And I don't even mind ignorance. Where I gotta draw the line is at flaunting your ignorance. Which is why the internet is a risible proposition - not only do you get to flaunt your ignorance, but you get to remain anonymous at the same time, as any Comments section of an online article from one of the major news sources demonstrates hourly. I have an uncle of few words who likes to observe that getting in an argument with a fool makes two fools. I have far too much time at the office these days, so I engage in foolery out of sheer boredom.

And because the general discussion is Nobel speculation, and not a place to argue or to defend yourself - for which I apologize and will try to refrain from doing in the future - I'll cast another name into the pot:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/mar/30/wang-anyi-profile

Merci.