Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 35

Thread: How are old Nobel laureates from your home country viewed there?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    New Jersey, USA
    Posts
    702

    Default How are old Nobel laureates from your home country viewed there?

    I'm pretty interested to see what past winners of the Nobel are still read/well regarded in their home countries, especially the more obscure candidates (what do the French think of Claude Simon? etc), but really I'm curious about all winners.

    I guess I'll start this off with some thoughts on American laureates:

    Sinclair Lewis: Some of his works are still read in high school, mostly his stuff from 1920-1930, like Babbitt or Main Street, but overall critical and public opinion of him has greatly fallen. Most people who know a thing or two about literature here know about Lewis, and may have read a work or two of his in their youth, but besides that, no one really cares about him.

    Eugene O'Neill: I'm not too familiar with theater, so I'm not entirely sure on this one, but it seems like when it comes to plays and such he is still highly regarded and viewed as the greatest American playwright in the first half of the 20th century, possibly of all time.

    Pearl S. Buck: Usually gets written off, although The Good Earth is still very popular today. Not sure how much of that is due to Oprah, though.

    William Faulkner: One of the greatest writers the US has produced. He influenced a new wave of writers from all over the globe (Mo Yan, 2012 Nobel laureate, regards Faulkner as one of his biggest influences). Some people complain about how hard his work is, but other than them everyone loves his books.

    Ernest Hemingway: Still popular, both in the establishment and with the public, and while I have the feeling he will never fade away into obscurity, I think his popularity will later begin to wane.

    John Steinbeck: Critics write him off, but the public really adores him. Probably the most read Nobel laureate in the US, maybe the world?

    Saul Bellow: I love his works, but he's no longer as popular as he once was by a large margin. People have started writing him off as a consequence of writing Philip Roth off, and while there are similarities between their work (Jews, sex, academia, all main characters are basically copies of each other), Bellow could at least tell a fun story and didn't need to have lived it to put it into words (like Henderson the Rain King).

    I.B. Singer: Currently he is barely read at all, but did people ever read him?

    Toni Morrison: People complained when she won the Nobel, but I think over time her reputation has greatly risen (impressive, considering she hasn't written anything much good since the award). She will definitely fade into obscurity at some point, but African American Studies and other similar disciplines at college ensure that she will always have an audience.


    What does your country think of its past winners? I'm very curious about Germany and French--they had a ton of laureates pre-1950, most of whom it seems no one cares about anymore.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Posts
    4

    Russia Re: How are old Nobel laureates from your home country viewed there?

    Sholokhov was honoured to honour the USSR; Pasternak, Solzhenytsin and Brodsky were honoured to piss it off.
    Bunin was honoured for being an exiled noble who did not phantasize about nymphettes.
    The opinions are consequently not a matter of taste more a matter of political conviction.

    Quote Originally Posted by redheadshadz View Post
    I.B. Singer: Currently he is barely read at all, but did people ever read him?
    Getting him in the original Yiddish is very difficult. Due to some copyright issues he is absent from the Yiddish Book Center and the prizes for reprints must have been set with academic libraries in mind. In the Russian language some of his plays are still performed although the Jews themselves have left.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    New Jersey, USA
    Posts
    702

    Default Re: How are old Nobel laureates from your home country viewed there?

    I'm curious, Gratch, about who this would-be Russian Nobelist with fantasies about young girls is? Surely not Nabokov? Bunin's Nobel was way before Nabokov had even published much.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: How are old Nobel laureates from your home country viewed there?

    Both were Russian nobles. Think nobility, doh.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    New Jersey, USA
    Posts
    702

    Default Re: How are old Nobel laureates from your home country viewed there?

    I can only think of Tolstoy, although I know nothing about his sex life, and he died long before Bunin ever became a Nobel possibility.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Kyushu, Japan
    Posts
    414

    Default Re: How are old Nobel laureates from your home country viewed there?

    Don't know if we should include Singer among the Americans. Otherwise we'd have to throw a few more in there as well who were born abroad but lived many of their final years Stateside (Brodsky, etc), though I think we could probably grab T. S. Eliot back - though he may kick some at that. Let's leave Singer to the Poles, which is where, at least spiritually, he belongs. Not often read in the States, no, but his books were very popular and very printed at one time: outside of Bellow he's the writer on your list that I find most often in cheap mass-market paperbacks in second-hand bookstores (in fact, I just picked up an old Penguin "Friend of Kafka" the other day). Anyway, a writer who ought to be read more often methinks. At his best he has a marvelous ability to conjure up scenes of old east European Jewish life.
    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

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Posts
    242

    Default Re: How are old Nobel laureates from your home country viewed there?

    From the German language ones
    Thomas Mann
    Hermann Hesse
    Heinrich Böll
    Günter Grass
    Elfriede Jelinek
    Herta Müller

    are household names that are still widely read and probably will be read for a long, long time. Of these only Böll hasn't aged so well so far. But it is hard to make any statement for Jelinek and Müller as they only won very recently, time will tell...

    In particular Thomas Mann has the status of a god for many in 20th century German literature, only matched by very few other German writers in that time period.

    Gerhart Hauptmann is still part of school curricula, I think, though I would be very surprised if many people read him outside of school. The others are not read widely any more (and some never have been, I guess). For example, how many people really 'read' poetry these days (Nelly Sachs)?
    Last edited by maidenhair; 05-Jul-2013 at 14:39.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    New Jersey, USA
    Posts
    702

    Default Re: How are old Nobel laureates from your home country viewed there?

    That's interesting about Jekinek, I wouldn't have thought she was that big in Germany or, well, anywhere.

    And I've only studied a semester in Germany, but for what it's worth, I've heard Theodor Mommsen is still read by those who study Rome (can't well imagine anyone else ever wanting to really read him).

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Portugal
    Posts
    1,248

    Default Re: How are old Nobel laureates from your home country viewed there?

    José Saramago is still a bestseller in Portugal, with all his novels in print; he's studied in school and he'll likely stay there for a long time since he's our only Nobel Laureate. But I also sense that a lot of people don't like him - because he's too difficult, because he's a communist, because he was considered unpatriotic (exile in Spain, always criticizing Portugal's shortcomings, etc.), because he's better known than many other writers who are envious of him, because some think he didn't deserve the Nobel Prize.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Kyushu, Japan
    Posts
    414

    Default Re: How are old Nobel laureates from your home country viewed there?

    Which Portuguese writers are considered better candidates by those who dislike Saramago? Unfortunately it's one of those European literatures that don't see much English-language translation or exposure (there's also only one Portuguese filmmaker anyone knows, Oliveira, if only because he's about 150 years old now and still cranking out a film a year).
    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

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Calvingrad
    Posts
    487

    Default Re: How are old Nobel laureates from your home country viewed there?

    Liehtzu! You're back! Now if only someone could get Settembrini and Eric Dickens to start posting again.

    Sorry, don't really have anything to say about how American Nobel laureates are viewed in the U.S., except perhaps that Pearl S. Buck is regularly trotted out as incontrovertible proof of the silliness of the members of the Swedish Academy, just as Dan Brown (whose books, which I've never read, I suspect are pretty good) is believed, by a certain class of snob, to exemplify hack writing. For the rest, I rather enjoyed The Good Earth, though I was little more than a child when I read it.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Guadalajara
    Posts
    5,320

    Default Re: How are old Nobel laureates from your home country viewed there?

    I'll talk about Octavio Paz in Mexico, and I'll also try to give a perspective (probably not that accurate as I'd wish) about the other Latin American laureates.

    Paz is a colossus in Mexican perspective, not only in literature but also as thinker and a solid intellectual figure. However, I don't think he is widely read as he should be, probably because he was a poet and not an easy poet let me tell you. A good level of knowledge about Mexican history, sociology and many other fields is required to have a full comprehension of his poetry. Probably he is more widely read here as an essayist as his book "The Labyrinth of Solitude" is an obligated read in a lot if high schools and upper level colleges and universities.

    GGM and MVLL are huge bestsellers and read by multitudes, no need to say that. Probably GGM even more.

    Neruda and Mistral, are two poets that are hugely respected and I have the impression that Neruda still has a good core of readers out there, probably not the same with Mistral. I can bet they're still main figures in Chile and mandatory reads in many levels of education.

    Miguel Ángel Asturias is a complete interrogation to me. I don't hear of many people reading him, but a lot of his works are available in libraries here in Mexico, meaning that he probably has an audience so the publishing groups still take the time and money to print him. In his native Guatemala he must be respected as well and probably still read a lot, but that's only a guessing.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Kroke, Polin
    Posts
    682

    Default Re: How are old Nobel laureates from your home country viewed there?

    It hasn't been that long since Miłosz and Szymborska died so they are still very important figures. They're poets though. They will not be very mainstream but it would be hard to find someone who likes poetry who has not read them.

    All Polish Nobel Prize laureates are on school curriculum. Władysław Reymont is the most obscure one. I have not met one person who would read him for pleasure and of course I'm taking into account people who otherwise read a lot. Henryk Sienkiewicz is more popular. For reasons unknown to me, many people find his writing engaging and enjoyable. Gombrowicz called him "a first rate second rate writer". Maybe that's the key to his success. He's just not that good .

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Cork, Ireland
    Posts
    254

    Default Re: How are old Nobel laureates from your home country viewed there?

    As far as Ireland goes, our four winners (Yeats, Shaw, Beckett and Heaney) have retained their popularity and cast long and heavy shadows over their respective areas of literature. Most people are familiar with something each has written, whether from school or simple osmosis, and they are all household names, but there has been such a cultural dumbing-down in recent years that I'm not at all sure they are actually widely read. I am sure they'll last, though. Our literary greats (along with our non-Nobel writers, like Joyce and Wilde) are responsible for our international visibility.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    NYC, USA
    Posts
    4,494

    Default Re: How are old Nobel laureates from your home country viewed there?

    Quote Originally Posted by anchomal View Post
    Our literary greats (along with our non-Nobel writers, like Joyce and Wilde) are responsible for our international visibility.
    Éirinn go Brach, . But then there are also all those Irish-language authors in Ireland, primarily the poets. Are they not widely read/known?

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Cork, Ireland
    Posts
    254

    Default Re: How are old Nobel laureates from your home country viewed there?

    Quote Originally Posted by Liam View Post
    Éirinn go Brach, . But then there are also all those Irish-language authors in Ireland, primarily the poets. Are they not widely read/known?
    I'd say (if we're talking the general populace as against academic circles) they're probably more widely known of, than known. I'd say a minuscule percentage of the population read Irish-language work.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    NYC, USA
    Posts
    4,494

    Default Re: How are old Nobel laureates from your home country viewed there?

    Hmm, sad, that. I have to read them for my degree, so I've been under the false impression that everybody in Ireland must know them, since their work is routinely featured on those Irish language examinations that you have to pass. BTW, I'll be in Ireland later this summer, for the first time, . Can't wait.

  18. #18

    Default Re: How are old Nobel laureates from your home country viewed there?

    Quote Originally Posted by redheadshadz View Post
    That's interesting about Jekinek, I wouldn't have thought she was that big in Germany or, well, anywhere. And I've only studied a semester in Germany, but for what it's worth, I've heard Theodor Mommsen is still read by those who study Rome (can't well imagine anyone else ever wanting to really read him).
    http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m3...bgbso1_250.png

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Cork, Ireland
    Posts
    254

    Default Re: How are old Nobel laureates from your home country viewed there?

    Quote Originally Posted by redheadshadz View Post
    And I've only studied a semester in Germany, but for what it's worth, I've heard Theodor Mommsen is still read by those who study Rome (can't well imagine anyone else ever wanting to really read him).
    I've been meaning for quite a while now to give Mommsen a try, and hope to get to him by the end of the year. There's a fun little anecdote on Wikipedia (I know...), taken from and introduction to the History of Rome volumes, that really makes me wonder about the notion of literary legacy:

    "One of the highpoints of Mark Twain's European tour of 1892 was a large formal banquet at the University of Berlin... . Mark Twain was an honored guest, seated at the head table with some twenty 'particularly eminent professors'; and it was from this vantage point that he witnessed the following incident... ." In Twain's own words:
    "When apparently the last eminent guest had long ago taken his place, again those three bugle-blasts rang out, and once more the swords leaped from their scabbards. Who might this late comer be? Nobody was interested to inquire. Still, indolent eyes were turned toward the distant entrance, and we saw the silken gleam and the lifted sword of a guard of honor plowing through the remote crowds. Then we saw that end of the house rising to its feet; saw it rise abreast the advancing guard all along like a wave. This supreme honor had been offered to no one before. There was an excited whisper at our table—'MOMMSEN!'—and the whole house rose. Rose and shouted and stamped and clapped and banged the beer mugs. Just simply a storm!
    Then the little man with his long hair and Emersonian face edged his way past us and took his seat. I could have touched him with my hand—Mommsen!—think of it!...I would have walked a great many miles to get a sight of him, and here he was, without trouble or tramp or cost of any kind. Here he was clothed in a titanic deceptive modesty which made him look like other men."

  20. #20

    Default Re: How are old Nobel laureates from your home country viewed there?

    Mommsen was born in a little village that was part of Denmark back then. His bust was stolen in that village a few years ago, funnily enough. It's now part of Germany.

Similar Threads

  1. Nobel Laureates You've Read
    By Heteronym in forum General Discussion
    Replies: 59
    Last Post: 08-Jul-2013, 11:45

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •