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Thread: Nobel Screw Ups

  1. #1
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    Default Nobel Screw Ups

    We all like to ridicule and bitch at the Nobels. I decided it'd be nice to have a specific place to lay out grievances and make ourselves feel better by criticizing a prominent literary awards winners and non-winners.

    I was going to say other things, but then it struck me that wow, has no other country been quite as thoroughly screwed over by the award as England? Here are the Britishers that won the award:

    John Galsworthy
    Ruyard Kipling
    Bertrand Russell
    Winston Churchill
    William Golding
    Harold Pinter
    Doris Lessing

    However,

    E.M. Forester
    D.H. Lawrence
    Virginia Woolf
    Dylan Thomas
    E.H. Auden
    W.E. Housmann
    J.R. Tolkien
    Graham Greene and
    Evelyn Waugh

    did not win. I can't think of any country that has been more screwed. William Golding was a lightweight with one so-so work, and they passed up Graham Greene's lifetime of work simply because one of the Committee members was anti-Catholic and avowedly anti-Greene, (who's work was heavily religious).

    But America, oddly enough, has one figure not award whom it defies my understanding why he wasn't acknowledged: Robert Penn Warren.

    Robert Penn Warren was one of the major literary critics in America for forty years, he was the preeminent poet, (his work is amazing, he didn't win 3 Pulitzers for nothing), and he wrote several important fiction novels. He was basically an all around genius and man of letters. It really confuses me that not only was he not honored, but they choose Saul Bellow's collection of works about depressed college professors mulling philosophy and love affairs, over Warren when considering American authors. Or that they gave it to Isaac Singer, a thorough flop I think; no one in America reads Singer, and I really don't think many ever did.

    The bigger issue with Warren is that in passing him up, the committee has thus never award the prize to an American poet; unless you count T.S. Elliot as an American, perhaps a half-American. Joseph Brodsky certainly doesn't count; he was a Russian, he wrote poetry in Russian even if he considered himself an American.

    But Robert Penn Warren really was the preeminent figure I feel in the group of post-Faulkner Southern America writers including Carson McCullers, Flannery O'Conner, Eudora Welty, and Tennessee Williams.

    I'll leave the floor open for additional bitching from the rest of you. I'm sure it will be quite entertaining and informative. Oh, and here is a Robert Penn Warren poem for ya folks:

    San Francisco Night Windows by Robert Penn Warren
    So hangs the hour like fruit fullblown and sweet,
    Our strict and desperate avatar,
    Despite that antique westward gulls lament
    Over enormous waters which retreat
    Weary unto the white and sensual star.
    Accept these images for what they are--
    Out of the past a fragile element
    Of substance into accident.
    I would speak honestly and of a full heart;
    I would speak surely for the tale is short,
    And the soul's remorseless catalogue
    Assumes its quick and piteous sum.
    Think you, hungry is the city in the fog
    Where now the darkened piles resume
    Their framed and frozen prayer
    Articulate and shafted in the stone
    Against the void and absolute air.
    If so the frantic breath could be forgiven,
    And the deep blood subdued before it is gone
    In a savage paternoster to the stone,
    Then might we all be shriven.
    "I am not young enough to know everything" -Oscar Wilde
    "The best way to protect your place in this world is to do nothing at all." -From Ikiru

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Nobel Screw Ups

    Quote Originally Posted by waalkwriter View Post
    We all like to ridicule and bitch at the Nobels. I decided it'd be nice to have a specific place to lay out grievances and make ourselves feel better by criticizing a prominent literary awards winners and non-winners.

    I was going to say other things, but then it struck me that wow, has no other country been quite as thoroughly screwed over by the award as England? Here are the Britishers that won the award:

    John Galsworthy
    Ruyard Kipling
    Bertrand Russell
    Winston Churchill
    William Golding
    Harold Pinter
    Doris Lessing

    However,

    E.M. Forester
    D.H. Lawrence
    Virginia Woolf
    Dylan Thomas
    E.H. Auden
    W.E. Housmann
    J.R. Tolkien
    Graham Greene and
    Evelyn Waugh

    did not win. I can't think of any country that has been more screwed. William Golding was a lightweight with one so-so work, and they passed up Graham Greene's lifetime of work simply because one of the Committee members was anti-Catholic and avowedly anti-Greene, (who's work was heavily religious).

    But America, oddly enough, has one figure not award whom it defies my understanding why he wasn't acknowledged: Robert Penn Warren.

    Robert Penn Warren was one of the major literary critics in America for forty years, he was the preeminent poet, (his work is amazing, he didn't win 3 Pulitzers for nothing), and he wrote several important fiction novels. He was basically an all around genius and man of letters. It really confuses me that not only was he not honored, but they choose Saul Bellow's collection of works about depressed college professors mulling philosophy and love affairs, over Warren when considering American authors. Or that they gave it to Isaac Singer, a thorough flop I think; no one in America reads Singer, and I really don't think many ever did.

    The bigger issue with Warren is that in passing him up, the committee has thus never award the prize to an American poet; unless you count T.S. Elliot as an American, perhaps a half-American. Joseph Brodsky certainly doesn't count; he was a Russian, he wrote poetry in Russian even if he considered himself an American.

    But Robert Penn Warren really was the preeminent figure I feel in the group of post-Faulkner Southern America writers including Carson McCullers, Flannery O'Conner, Eudora Welty, and Tennessee Williams.

    I'll leave the floor open for additional bitching from the rest of you. I'm sure it will be quite entertaining and informative. Oh, and here is a Robert Penn Warren poem for ya folks:
    i'm tempted to bitch about this assessment, but I can't be more ironic and sarcastic about this than you yourself are. I love this post, it's like a parody of Nobel bitching. Well done, young fella.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Nobel Screw Ups

    I try. I am genuinely outraged at the Nobel Committee's lack of omniscience and their ability to tell the future But hey, being whiny and bitchy is quite fun, everyone needs a little outlet, otherwise they turn into Sarah Palin
    "I am not young enough to know everything" -Oscar Wilde
    "The best way to protect your place in this world is to do nothing at all." -From Ikiru

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    Default Re: Nobel Screw Ups

    Quote Originally Posted by waalkwriter View Post
    otherwise they turn into Sarah Palin
    yep, that was the first thing I thought too. "RPW is the preeminent poet" vs. "I can see Russia from my porch"

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    Default Re: Nobel Screw Ups

    Quote Originally Posted by waalkwriter View Post
    ... it struck me that wow, has no other country been quite as thoroughly screwed over by the award as England?

    Here are the Britishers that won the award:

    John Galsworthy
    Ruyard Kipling
    Bertrand Russell
    Winston Churchill
    William Golding
    Harold Pinter
    Doris Lessing
    Rough justice, I think, since England has historically been the one doing the screwing
    I suppose, technically, you could add the Irish winners to this list since Yeats, Shaw, Beckett and Heaney were all, thanks to our neighbour's imperialistic tendencies, born British subjects...

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    Default Re: Nobel Screw Ups

    Penn was a magnificent poet, one of the very few (or maybe the only) great American poets of the second half of the XX cent.

    I'm surprised Pearl Buck didn't get a mention in your rant. She's the usual whipping boy (girl) when it comes to what bone-heads the Nobel committee are. She talks about the sneering that went on in her autobiography, My Several Worlds - as if she were to blame for the Nobel prize! - and the personal insults and the wounds. But Buck is most often mocked by those who haven't read her, and I offer the autobiography as a corrective. She wasn't the greatest stylist, and the book has a number of lulls, but the woman lived a hell of a life and almost despite herself makes damning comments about the work of missionaries in China (which is what her parents were) and the insularity of the U.S. (where she is distraught to find that through four years of university no one once asked her about life in China, where she spent most of her first twenty years). I don't think she deserves the dumping she gets at all: she was a valuable bridge between the West and all those odd little yeller people across the sea. The book is also a primer on early XX century Chinese history, and a loving portrait of a long-gone way of life.

    Anyway, as I've said before, I've got a fondness for the "neglected" Nobel laureates. A lot of them are truly great writers who are no longer known in the States. Georgios Seferis is my pick in a pinch for favorite poet of the last century, and Patrick White is a good contender for most woefully neglected major English-language writer of the last hundred years (along with fellow Australian Christina Stead).

    I don't know how many of Saul Bellow's books were about depressed college professors mulling their love lives. You might be confusing him with Philip Roth.

    And Barbara Streisand, for one, definitely read Isaac Singer.

    Who was Polish, by the way.

    Peace.
    The maker of kitsch does not create inferior art, he is not an incompetent or a bungler, he cannot be evaluated by aesthetic standards; rather, he is ethically depraved, a criminal willing radical evil. - Hermann Broch

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    Default Re: Nobel Screw Ups

    Please bear with me, these are rudimentary plot summaries snipped from wikipedia out of laziness:

    The story centers around a day in the life of Wilhelm Adler (aka Tommy Wilhelm), a failed actor in his forties. Wilhelm is unemployed, impecunious, separated from his wife (who refuses to agree to a divorce), and estranged from his children and his father. He is also stuck with the same immaturity and lack of insight which has brought him to failure. In Seize the Day Wilhelm experiences a day of reckoning as he is forced to examine his life and to finally accept the "burden of self".
    Herzog is a novel set in 1964, in the United States, and is about the midlife crisis of a Jewish man named Moses E. Herzog. At the age of forty-seven,[2] he is just emerging from his second divorce, this one particularly acrimonious. He has two children, one by each wife, who are growing up without him present. His career as a writer and as an academic has floundered. He is currently in a relationship with a vibrant woman, Ramona, but finds himself running away from commitment.
    Herzog's second marriage, to the demanding, manipulative Madeleine, has recently ended in a humiliating fashion. Madeleine convinced Moses to move her and their daughter Junie to Chicago, and to arrange for their best friends, Valentine and Phoebe Gersbach, to move as well, securing a solid job for Valentine. However, the plans were all a ruse, as Madeleine and Valentine were carrying on an affair behind Moses's back, and shortly after arriving in Chicago, Madeleine throws Herzog out, securing a restraining order (of sorts) against him, and attempting to have him committed to an asylum.
    Love affairs are obviously a part of Bellow. In general the guy is basically Philip Roth. I mean all his books are about the philosopher Saul Bellow, with various names and situations. They're all middle-aged men pondering their lives. It's not necessarily bad. I want to try Henderson the Rain King, and Humboldt's Gift. The rest do not interest me at this point.
    "I am not young enough to know everything" -Oscar Wilde
    "The best way to protect your place in this world is to do nothing at all." -From Ikiru

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    Default Re: Nobel Screw Ups

    Quote Originally Posted by Mirabell View Post
    yep, that was the first thing I thought too. "RPW is the preeminent poet" vs. "I can see Russia from my porch"
    As Lietzhu said, Warren was a magnificent poet. If you deny that you are doing what Sarah Palin wants you to do.
    "I am not young enough to know everything" -Oscar Wilde
    "The best way to protect your place in this world is to do nothing at all." -From Ikiru

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    Default Re: Nobel Screw Ups

    Quote Originally Posted by waalkwriter View Post
    Love affairs are obviously a part of Bellow. In general the guy is basically Philip Roth. I mean all his books are about the philosopher Saul Bellow, with various names and situations. They're all middle-aged men pondering their lives. It's not necessarily bad. I want to try Henderson the Rain King, and Humboldt's Gift. The rest do not interest me at this point.
    I'm sorry but this is a ridiculous statement. How can you make such a claim after having read one book? And love affairs are not just a part of Bellow, you know (or Roth, for that matter), they happen to be a part of the human race.
    Bellow is far more subtle than you give him credit for.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Nobel Screw Ups

    Quote Originally Posted by waalkwriter View Post
    As Lietzhu said, Warren was a magnificent poet. If you deny that you are doing what Sarah Palin wants you to do.

    I don't deny that, but he lived in a golden age of American poetry, and while his work is excellent, it is not as important as Allen Tate's or as good as Robert Lowell's, to name just two contemporaries of his. His criticism is nice, but Jarrell, Empson and Crowe were more important and better. His fiction, well maybe, I'm not very well read in southern prose of his time (not read a single page by Eudora Welty, for example), so you might have a point there. ALthough, given your other assertions, for example about Bellow, Golding or Tolkien, it seems to me a 'look outside to check if you tell me it's raining'-kind of scenario. Palinesque.

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    Sweden Re: Nobel Screw Ups

    This "Britisher" is going to wait till post-one-o'clock, when we can all bitch at leisure as to what a bad choice the Nobel gang, with their comp?re Peter Englund, have made with their Swedish capitalist prize. (No one else but me has pointed out again and again that this prize that the lefties love to hate, and hate to love, was created by capitalism!).

    As I keep repeating, it's only five middle-class Swedes with good solid back-up that are making the decision, and then ask the other thirteen members of the Swedish Academy to rubber-stamp their decision to give a million dollars to one writer.

    So, you quarrel amongst yourselves; I shall wait till after one o'clock to re-join the bitchery.

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    Default Re: Nobel Screw Ups

    Quote Originally Posted by Mirabell View Post
    I don't deny that, but he lived in a golden age of American poetry, and while his work is excellent, it is not as important as Allen Tate's or as good as Robert Lowell's, to name just two contemporaries of his. His criticism is nice, but Jarrell, Empson and Crowe were more important and better. His fiction, well maybe, I'm not very well read in southern prose of his time (not read a single page by Eudora Welty, for example), so you might have a point there. ALthough, given your other assertions, for example about Bellow, Golding or Tolkien, it seems to me a 'look outside to check if you tell me it's raining'-kind of scenario. Palinesque.
    I don't know if I can agree with you on Tate and Lowell. And I can't believe you of all people haven't read Eudora Welty. I'd recommend you read her greatest work, the short story "A Worn Path" immediately ^^
    "I am not young enough to know everything" -Oscar Wilde
    "The best way to protect your place in this world is to do nothing at all." -From Ikiru

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    Default Re: Nobel Screw Ups

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric View Post
    This "Britisher" is going to wait till post-one-o'clock, when we can all bitch at leisure as to what a bad choice the Nobel gang, with their comp?re Peter Englund, have made with their Swedish capitalist prize. (No one else but me has pointed out again and again that this prize that the lefties love to hate, and hate to love, was created by capitalism!).

    As I keep repeating, it's only five middle-class Swedes with good solid back-up that are making the decision, and then ask the other thirteen members of the Swedish Academy to rubber-stamp their decision to give a million dollars to one writer.

    So, you quarrel amongst yourselves; I shall wait till after one o'clock to re-join the bitchery.
    The bitchery wouldn't be complete without you. We're just getting warmed up for bitching this afternoon. Good to get started with some past travesties to get the blood warmed and the trivial whining and headknocking going.
    "I am not young enough to know everything" -Oscar Wilde
    "The best way to protect your place in this world is to do nothing at all." -From Ikiru

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    Default Re: Nobel Screw Ups

    Quote Originally Posted by waalkwriter View Post
    I don't know if I can agree with you on Tate and Lowell.
    Given your opinion on Golding, Bellow and Ashbery, I'm not cruelly surprised.

    Quote Originally Posted by waalkwriter View Post
    you of all people
    what's that mean?

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    Default Re: Nobel Screw Ups

    My personal list of nobel screw ups is short.

    heyse
    eucken
    pamuk


    everybody else that I read I fully approve of winning, those I didn't read, well, I didn't read, so can't bitch.

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    Default Re: Nobel Screw Ups

    Quote Originally Posted by Mirabell View Post
    Given your opinion on Golding, Bellow and Ashbery, I'm not cruelly surprised.



    what's that mean?
    I'm surprised you view Golding so favorably
    Well it's just you've read everything. You've even read Go Tell It on the Mountain, and probably Appointment in Samarra too. It wouldn't surprise me if you've even read The Heart is a Lonely Hunter and Look Homeward, Angel. Like I said, A Worn Path is a masterpiece of a short story. Well worth a thirty minute investment of time as soon as you can. As a whole I'm not her biggest fan, but seeing as how I go to college in Mississippi, and well, she's the most important woman writer in Mississippi's history, I felt kind of obligated to read her somewhat extensively, though I find her short stories get tedious after a while, (and the same with Flannery O'Connor).
    "I am not young enough to know everything" -Oscar Wilde
    "The best way to protect your place in this world is to do nothing at all." -From Ikiru

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    Default Re: Nobel Screw Ups

    Quote Originally Posted by waalkwriter View Post
    Appointment in Samarra.
    nope. any good?

    Look Homeward, Angel.
    again: nope. any good?

    I do own the last book, but I'd ordered it used and there's a horrible crease in it and yes that can keep me away from books so it's been idling away on my shelves.

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    Default Re: Nobel Screw Ups

    Quote Originally Posted by Mirabell View Post
    nope. any good?



    again: nope. any good?

    I do own the last book, but I'd ordered it used and there's a horrible crease in it and yes that can keep me away from books so it's been idling away on my shelves.
    A man after my own heart A friend crinkled the pages of a book slightly by letting it get wet and I gave them the book because I didn't want it on my shelf anymore.
    "I am not young enough to know everything" -Oscar Wilde
    "The best way to protect your place in this world is to do nothing at all." -From Ikiru

  19. #19

    Default Re: Nobel Screw Ups

    Quote Originally Posted by Mirabell View Post
    My personal list of nobel screw ups is short.

    heyse
    eucken
    pamuk


    everybody else that I read I fully approve of winning, those I didn't read, well, I didn't read, so can't bitch.
    You need to read more than one book by Pamuk. He really was deserving. Read The Black Book, My Name is Red, and The White Castle. He is a great great novelist.

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    Default Re: Nobel Screw Ups

    Quote Originally Posted by adaorardor View Post
    You need to read more than one book by Pamuk. He really was deserving. Read The Black Book, My Name is Red, and The White Castle. He is a great great novelist.
    I agree. Those three are stunning works of fiction. Which one did you read Marcel?

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