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Thread: Nobel Prize in Literature 2012

  1. #21
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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2012

    [QUOTE=Hrabal78;115967][QUOTE=Liam;115962] Pearl Buck....Elfrieda Jelinek

    There are always exceptions to the rule =) Munro, William Trevor, Kundera are not exceptions to the rule though.

    Btw, Joyce is a total hack =P I would replace him with Zola, Twain, Capek, Chekhov, Greene, Borges.

    PS I am happy for Mo (I'll be sure to pick up some of his books). I am just a bit disappointed because I feel he has a few more years in the tank than Trevor, Munro and a handful of other old times I would have liked to see win the honor.
    Joyce a hack? Now, you've done it:

    Behold the handmaid of the moon. In sleep the wet sign calls her hour, bids her rise. Bridebed childbed, bed of death, ghost-candled. Omnis caro ad te veniet. He comes pale vampire through storm his eyes, his bat sails bloodying the sea, mouth to a mouth's kiss.
    ...

    In terror the poor girl flees away through the dark. She is the bride of darkness, a daughter of night. She dare not bear the sunnygolden babe of day...

    And when reading Chinese literature in translation we should always remember Borges' immortal lines:

    By 1916 I resolved to endeavor myself with the study of Oriental literature. While reading with enthusiasm and credulity the English version of a Chinese philosopher, I found this memorable passage: "A death row inmate does not mind walking by a cliff, he has already given up on life." At that point the translator put an asterisk and I noticed that his interpretation was to be chosen over another version by a rival Chinese Lit. expert who translated it this way "the servants destroy the artwork to avoid having to judge its beauties and its defects." Then, as Paolo and Francesca, I stopped reading. A mysterious skepticism had crept into my soul.

    Hacia 1916 resolví entregarme al estudio de las literaturas orientales. Al recorrer con entusiasmo y credulidad la versión inglesa de cierto filósofo chino, di con este memorable pasaje: "A un condenado a muerte no le importa bordear un precipicio, porque ha renunciado a la vida. "En ese punto el traductor colocó un asterisco y me advirtió que su interpretación era prefelible a la de otro sinólogo rival que traducía de esta manera "Los sirvientes destruyen las obras de arte para no tener que juzgar sus bellezas y sus defectos. "Entonces, como Paolo y Francesca, dejé de leer. Un misterioso escepticismo se había deslizado en mi alma.
    To sit alone in the lamplight with a book spread out before you, and hold intimate converse with men of unseen generations, such is a pleasure beyond compare.
    Yoshida Kenko

  2. #22
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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2012

    I almost began reading Mo Yan based on what was being said in this (Nobel Speculation) thread, but never got around to it. Never really heard of him, though I did see the Zhang Yimou's movie version of Red Sorghum. I'm glad he won. Now, I'll make a point of reading him.

  3. #23
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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2012

    [QUOTE=Cleanthess;115971][QUOTE=Hrabal78;115967]
    Quote Originally Posted by Liam View Post
    Pearl Buck....Elfrieda Jelinek

    Joyce a hack? Now, you've done it:
    Can't say I am a fan Cleanthess. I started Ulysses and The Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man countless times and could never get into his books. I know that he is considered one of the most influential writers of the 20th century but for me he is one of the greatest writers of the 20th century when I need to go to sleep and I am having a hard time =P

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2012

    Ai Weiwei talks shit about Mo Yan's Nobel:

    http://www.publico.pt/Cultura/ai-wei...eravel-1566895

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2012

    Quote Originally Posted by Corswandt View Post
    Ai Weiwei talks shit about Mo Yan's Nobel:

    http://www.publico.pt/Cultura/ai-wei...eravel-1566895
    He does not have a lot of fans among the Chinese dissidents (At the Frankfurt Book Fair, he apparently refused to sit in the same seminar with dissident Chinese authors Dai Qing and Bei Ling). Although the Chinese govt was happy (unlike a few years ago when Liu won the Peace Prize) his Nobel also ignited renewed criticisms from other writers calling him "too willing to serve or too timid to confront a government which heavily censors artists and authors and punishes those who refuse to obey." Some are opposed to his winning the Nobel prize because he serves as a vice chair of the China Writers' Association and actually helps the government in censorship. Yu Jie, an essayist and close friend of Nobel laureate Liu said that: "This reflects the West's disregard for China's human rights problems. Mo Yan's win is not a victory for literature. It's a victory for the Communist Party." Personally, I thought the Academy was going to shy away from giving it to Mo exactly because of this backlash. I did not think he was going to win because he is perceived by many as an appeaser of the government, a government that does not exactly have the best track record on human rights.

    He does actually dare to tackle controversial issues like forced abortion (Frog) but definitey within careful limits. He apparently has revised drafts for a number of his works because they were a bit too prickly vis-a-vis the Chinese government's policies.
    Makes one wonder how different and powerful his novels could be had he not exercised (essentially forced) self-censoship and all the restraints came off.
    Last edited by Hrabal78; 11-Oct-2012 at 19:29.

  6. #26

    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2012

    Time of the non-literar/idiot question: does anyone knows why Mo Yan's pictures in the Nobel's site ( http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_priz...aureates/2012/ ) is not black and white? I love that all the other had a pattern.

  7. #27

    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2012

    Much as I'd like to, it's difficult separating Mo Yan from the political context he is writing in. I dislike how the Communist Party will turn this award into some kind of victory for them, into some kind of patriotic validation of China, instead of seeing it as what it really should be: an award for his work.

    Another black mark against him: participating in the 70th anniversary celebration of Mao's notoriously anti-literature speech:
    http://shanghaiist.com/2012/10/11/is...yang_unwor.php

    I'm keeping an open mind to hear what he'll say in his Nobel speech. I certainly hope he surprises his critics and acknowledges those that came before him. And I hope the Western media does not take it easy on him when asking difficult questions about human rights and censorship.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hrabal78 View Post

    Can't say I am a fan Cleanthess. I started Ulysses and The Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man countless times and could never get into his books. I know that he is considered one of the most influential writers of the 20th century but for me he is one of the greatest writers of the 20th century when I need to go to sleep and I am having a hard time =P
    Truth be told, I don't think much of Joyce, either. I know he's a great writer, but we don't have to like all great writers.

    By the way, didn't Tagore win? India already has its laureate. Unless Liam means someone more recent and truly worthy, like Mahasweta Devi.
    Last edited by Uemarasan; 11-Oct-2012 at 20:11.

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2012

    Quote Originally Posted by Uemarasan View Post
    By the way, didn't Tagore win? India already has a Nobel laureate.
    Tagore did win, albeit it was like a 100 years ago.

    Personally, I think Mulk Raj Anand was worthy of the Nobel. I am not sure if he was ever seriously considered for the honor but his books greatly portray India's social structure and the British rule in India. His novel Untouchable is a pretty visceral/chilling expose of the absurdity and injustice of India's caste system, definitely worth a read (http://www.amazon.com/Untouchable-Cl...ds=untouchable).
    Last edited by Hrabal78; 11-Oct-2012 at 20:32.

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2012

    All this criticism of Mo Yan for not actively opposing the government of his country is a bit unfair. Wasn't it Kundera who wrote about how Hrabal was criticized for not opposing the authorities and instead chose to write for the drawer? I think that Kundera justified Hrabal's actions because the best that Hrabal could contribute to the Czech and indeed to the rest of the world's readers and writers were his books, and he needed to be alive and with a certain degree of freedom to write those books.

    Consider the case of the great, great poet Nikola Vaptsarov, who only got to publish one book before he was executed, on 23 July 1942, when he was 33 years of age, by the authorities, for his opposition activities. Even during the minutes leading up to his execution he could write poetry like this:

    On Parting
    To my wife
    Sometimes I’ll come when you’re asleep,
    An unexpected visitor.
    Don’t leave me outside in the street,
    Don’t bar the door!
    I’ll enter quietly, softly sit
    And gaze upon you in the dark.
    Then, when my eyes have gazed their fill,
    I’ll kiss you and depart.
    * * *
    The fight is hard and pitiless.
    The fight is epic, as they say.
    I fell. Another takes my place –
    Why single out a name?
    After the firing squad – the worms.
    Thus does the simple logic go.
    But in the storm, we’ll be with you,
    My people, for we loved you so.


    2 p.m. – 23 July, 1942
    To sit alone in the lamplight with a book spread out before you, and hold intimate converse with men of unseen generations, such is a pleasure beyond compare.
    Yoshida Kenko

  10. #30
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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2012

    Quote Originally Posted by Hrabal78 View Post
    He does not have a lot of fans among the Chinese dissidents (At the Frankfurt Book Fair, he apparently refused to sit in the same seminar with dissident Chinese authors Dai Qing and Bei Ling). Although the Chinese govt was happy (unlike a few years ago when Liu won the Peace Prize) his Nobel also ignited renewed criticisms from other writers calling him "too willing to serve or too timid to confront a government which heavily censors artists and authors and punishes those who refuse to obey." Some are opposed to his winning the Nobel prize because he serves as a vice chair of the China Writers' Association and actually helps the government in censorship. Yu Jie, an essayist and close friend of Nobel laureate Liu said that: "This reflects the West's disregard for China's human rights problems. Mo Yan's win is not a victory for literature. It's a victory for the Communist Party." Personally, I thought the Academy was going to shy away from giving it to Mo exactly because of this backlash. I did not think he was going to win because he is perceived by many as an appeaser of the government, a government that does not exactly have the best track record on human rights.

    He does actually dare to tackle controversial issues like forced abortion (Frog) but definitey within careful limits. He apparently has revised drafts for a number of his works because they were a bit too prickly vis-a-vis the Chinese government's policies.
    Makes one wonder how different and powerful his novels could be had he not exercised (essentially forced) self-censoship and all the restraints came off.


    Ok, hold on. Isn't every year that we complain that the Nobel, without a doubt has a political context? A lot of people every year keep saying that this or that laureate won the award because his life/political activity/dissidence to a dictatorship or an oppressive government lifted up his possibilities and chances. This time, the award went to a writer purely and merely for his works, his narrative and inventiveness without taking a look to his political activities whatever these are up to. So what's the problem now? I'm not saying that his posture about the Government is correct as I don't know in what measure he supports the regime, but this seems very similar to Borges, a writer that wasn't a dissident but at the same time wasn't part of the structure of power at the time. His only sin was not to criticize, not to be a dissident and yell to the world about the injustices of the Argentinian power; after all he only wanted to be in peace so he can keep reading, writing & getting as much knowledge as he could in his life. And for this reason all his amazing works were forgotten by the Swedish Academy. Apparently they are learning from their mistakes and this looks as a good sign to me.
    Hard to separate the figure of the writer to his political perspectives, specially in situations when his home country presents these signs of oppression.

    Quote Originally Posted by Uemarasan View Post
    Truth be told, I don't think much of Joyce, either. I know he's a great writer, but we don't have to like all great writers.

    Count me in. I've only read Dubliners and didn't amaze me. Ulysses intimidates me, so probably won't be trying to read it for a while.


  11. #31

    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2012

    Quote Originally Posted by Hrabal78 View Post
    Why do you think Roth is so pissed, even though he has pretty much every major literary prize/honor known to man? It's because he does not have THE greatest prize, THE greatest honor in the literary world. I am sure he is not the only worthy snub that is going "WTF?", although the others are probably hiding their disappointment. So to say, he/she does not need the Nobel is bollocks. The Nobel is THE highest recognition in literature and writers like Munro, Trevor, Kadare are certainly worthy of the honor.

    Perhaps in decades to come, the Man Booker Internation Prize will become on par with the Nobel (especially if you add, to the already small, albeit impressive list of winners/Nobel snubs, candidates like William Trevor, Ngugi, Eco, Oz, DeLillo, etc. etc.) but, until then, the Nobel is THE ultimate recognition for literary excellence. I am totally all for spotlighting worthy authors that are not as wide read, but you also need to kick the "he doesn't really need the Nobel" and give it to Munro, Trevor, Kadare, Kundera.
    Somebody will always be disappointed. They reward only one man or woman every year (though they can two but they really rarely split the award - maybe this is a mistake?) and there was surely more than 112 writers deserving the Nobel (in the WHOLE WORLD) in the last 112 years. So this is inevitable.
    If Ko Un or Adonis are considered: maybe they can't judge poetry that isn't written in the European language? They have rewarded only few poets that were not European (Mistral, Neruda, Paz wrote in Spanish, Walcott in English, have I forgotten someone?).
    Munro actually came to the top of the list of contenders when she won Man International Booker Prize. I can't remember her name mentioned too often earlier.
    Roth - they probably don't like him. If Engdahl words are the voice of the Academy.
    Man Booker International Prize won't be "on par with the Nobel" because it is not worth as much money as Nobel. :P

    But I agree that they should reward "big names" more often - at least once in two-three years.
    And I disagree about Jelinek. Her books that I've read were very good. To be honest I think that she was far more deserving than LeClezio or Lessing but this is only my opinion. :P

  12. #32

    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2012

    [QUOTE=Hrabal78;115973][QUOTE=Cleanthess;115971]
    Quote Originally Posted by Hrabal78 View Post

    Can't say I am a fan Cleanthess. I started Ulysses and The Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man countless times and could never get into his books. I know that he is considered one of the most influential writers of the 20th century but for me he is one of the greatest writers of the 20th century when I need to go to sleep and I am having a hard time =P
    I've only read "The Portrait..." but was also very disappointed. Though I'm going to read "Ulysses" some day in the future. :P

  13. #33
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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2012

    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel del Real View Post
    Ok, hold on. Isn't every year that we complain that the Nobel, without a doubt has a political context? A lot of people every year keep saying that this or that laureate won the award because his life/political activity/dissidence to a dictatorship or an oppressive government lifted up his possibilities and chances. This time, the award went to a writer purely and merely for his works, his narrative and inventiveness without taking a look to his political activities whatever these are up to. So what's the problem now?
    Hear, hear. As the Japanese say: Mr. Del Real no iu toori.

    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel del Real View Post

    Count me in. I've only read Dubliners and didn't amaze me. Ulysses intimidates me, so probably won't be trying to read it for a while.
    I, too, find the Dubliners short stories pedestrian and uninspired. And the Portrait of the Artist even though good is nothing extraordinary. Finnegans Wake is extraordinary...ly bad .
    But Ulysses is one of the most fun to read books ever written. Open any chapter at random and read, you'll be entertained and trained, dazzled and puzzled, delighted and plighted, etc. And since the actual plot is basically a trifle and the so-called 'mysteries' are just for show, you don't need to worry about missing anything. And then you're on to the most delighful extended game of 'word soup' you'll ever play. I mean 'Rose of Castile' becomes 'Rows of Cast Steel' and there are puns like that virtually on every other page. And the multiple narrative tricks and the many, many other games and fun, oh man....
    To sit alone in the lamplight with a book spread out before you, and hold intimate converse with men of unseen generations, such is a pleasure beyond compare.
    Yoshida Kenko

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2012

    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel del Real View Post
    This time, the award went to a writer purely and merely for his works, his narrative and inventiveness without taking a look to his political activities whatever these are up to. So what's the problem now?
    Agree to a certain extent. I was just relaying what other Chinese authors/artists, who actually have a legitimate gripe (as opposed to us) are feeling. Mo Yan has oppenly criticized Chinese dissident writers/artists, by words and actions, he has "cleaned" his works, and he marches in step with the Party. You are right though to question whether his politics should have an effect on his candidacy. Obviously, you feel they should not, which is fine, but there are plenty of Chinese in exile who feel that they should.

    Taking politics out of the equation begs an interesting question though. You suggest that politics should be set aside and the works are the only thing that ought to be considered. Fair enough. What about someone like the anti-semitic pro-fascist Hitler/Musollini loving Ezra Pound? What about Peter Handke? Any serious consideration for Pound was nipped in the bud because of his political/personal views. For Borges the problem was that people remembered him for his ringing endorsements of Pinochet's activities in Chile and his de facto support of Videla. I guess, it begs the question of where do you draw the line?

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2012

    Quote Originally Posted by Cleanthess View Post
    All this criticism of Mo Yan for not actively opposing the government of his country is a bit unfair. Wasn't it Kundera who wrote about how Hrabal was criticized for not opposing the authorities and instead chose to write for the drawer?
    I think Mo Yan is criticized not so much for not actively opposing the Chinese government but for criticizing, whether by words or actions, dissidents. He does serve as vice chair of the China Writers' Association and allegedly helps the government in censorship. That is the gripe a lot of dissidents have with him.

    As for Hrabal, he was never a government lackey. He was in the party for a year and dropped out. He was actually critical of the absurdities of the communist regime in Czechoslovakia through his works, albeit in a satyrical and more subtle way. Most of his works were banned and were published underground and/or abroad. Mo Yan seems to actually have an active role in censorship if the allegations are true.
    Last edited by Hrabal78; 11-Oct-2012 at 22:06.

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2012

    Quote Originally Posted by Hrabal78 View Post
    Taking politics out of the equation begs an interesting question though. You suggest that politics should be set aside and the works are the only thing that ought to be considered. Fair enough.
    Well, that's not me talking, that's the Academy based on Alfred Nobel's will. In my opinion, Borges should have been awarded, Pound not, Handke shouldn't and Mo Yan I still need to check if his novels are as good as the summaries are appealing.

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2012

    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel del Real View Post
    Well, that's not me talking, that's the Academy based on Alfred Nobel's will. In my opinion, Borges should have been awarded, Pound not, Handke shouldn't and Mo Yan I still need to check if his novels are as good as the summaries are appealing.

    But what do you think personally. Hypothetically speaking, you have an author who has produced works that are universally recognized as brilliant but he/she is a racist, or an anti-semite, or explicitly or implicitly supports a questionable regime. In such a case, would you separate the political/personal views of the author from the works?

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2012

    Quote Originally Posted by Hrabal78 View Post
    But what do you think personally. Hypothetically speaking, you have an author who has produced works that are universally recognized as brilliant but he/she is a racist, or an anti-semite, or explicitly or implicitly supports a questionable regime. In such a case, would you separate the political/personal views of the author from the works?
    It depends on the case about the writer/political system he endorses. Borges, no doubt I would have granted him the Nobel.
    Now, you don't have to look too much to have amazing writers with the right political causes. So go ahead and give the award to Kadare right now!

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2012

    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel del Real View Post
    It depends on the case about the writer/political system he endorses. Borges, no doubt I would have granted him the Nobel.
    Now, you don't have to look too much to have amazing writers with the right political causes. So go ahead and give the award to Kadare right now!
    Kadare got the kiss of death, the Booker International, as did Achebe, Munro, and your favorite =), Roth.

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2012

    Quote Originally Posted by Hrabal78 View Post
    Taking politics out of the equation begs an interesting question though. You suggest that politics should be set aside and the works are the only thing that ought to be considered. Fair enough. What about someone like the anti-semitic pro-fascist Hitler/Musollini loving Ezra Pound? What about Peter Handke? Any serious consideration for Pound was nipped in the bud because of his political/personal views. For Borges the problem was that people remembered him for his ringing endorsements of Pinochet's activities in Chile and his de facto support of Videla. I guess, it begs the question of where do you draw the line?
    This is an excellent point to raise. I think that there are different degrees at which different people will draw the line before they no longer can admire a writer/artist.


    Borges calling Pinochet the angel of Latin American democracy, but opposing Peron is one degree.
    Grass joining the Waffen-SS when he was a teen is another thing.
    Kundera allegedly spying for and reporting people to the authorities is another.
    Elia Kazan naming names is another.
    Then there is Celine shilling for the Nazis and Nazi sympathizers during WWII, that is another degree.
    There is Hamsun giving his Nobel Prize Medal to Hitler himself, that is even worse.
    Then there is Lucien Rebatet an actual, honest to goodness, antisemitic Nazi, who wrote the wonderful Les Deux Etendards.
    And finally you have that wonderful poet and great thinker Mao Tse Tung, who, in the words of our greatest American philosopher and social commentator, Homer Simpson, was: (you google the quote, I'm too chicken to post it).
    My point? based on the poems I've read written by Mao, I admire his poetry.
    Last edited by Cleanthess; 11-Oct-2012 at 22:55. Reason: To chicken out.
    To sit alone in the lamplight with a book spread out before you, and hold intimate converse with men of unseen generations, such is a pleasure beyond compare.
    Yoshida Kenko

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