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Thread: Nobel winners who wrote some of their best works after the award?

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    Default Nobel winners who wrote some of their best works after the award?

    For many writers the Nobel is a sort of a kiss of death, as afterwards plenty of the laureates go on to produce very few books of merit. Just look at Steinbeck, Bellow, Morrison, Naipaul, Golding, Kawabata, and especially Sinclair Lewis, among a bunch of others. Their post-Nobel works may not have been bad, but they were certainly no where near as good as their pre-. While reading about Yeats I came across a line about how his collection of poems, The Tower, considered by most to be one of his best, if not the best among his works, and it got me wondering how many others can be said to have done the same.

    The example that most jumps out is Eugene O'Neill, with Long Day's Journey into the Night. Mann and Marquez both wrote some of the most important works in their oeuvre after the prize as well, though not their magnum opuses. Who are some others?

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    Default Re: Nobel winners who wrote some of their best works after the award?

    Quote Originally Posted by Vazquez View Post
    And some are so old when they get it that they really wouldn't write anymore, anyway.
    You nailed it perfectly. If we took for example the last decade you don't expect new masterpieces from, let's say, Tranströmer or Munro. But I'm sure we all expect great things coming from Müller, Mo Yan or Orhan Pamuk. By the way, The Museum of Innocence is the most mediocre Pamuk I've read, and it was his post Nobel book.

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    Default Re: Nobel winners who wrote some of their best works after the award?

    I am yet to see one.

    Saramago's pre Nobel works are far better , so is for Marquez , Llosa, Pamuk. Coetzee , probably got it much young, and his post Nobel books are pretty good, but not sure if that can surpass 'Waiting for Barbarians' and the like.
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    Default Re: Nobel winners who wrote some of their best works after the award?

    Rudyard Kipling. He wrote If, A Diversity of Creatures, Debits and Credits and Limits and Renewals after winning the Nobel Prize.
    Rabindranath Tagore, after his Nobel he wrote Chaturanga, Stray Birds and Lipika among others.
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    Default Re: Nobel winners who wrote some of their best works after the award?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cleanthess View Post
    Rabindranath Tagore, after his Nobel he wrote Chaturanga, Stray Birds and Lipika among others.
    Tagore's case, like any, is debatable. We (Indians) cant stop arguing about his multifaceted achievements : as a poet, novelist, painter, musician. Even as a writer ( I haven't read a great deal of him, but for all the major ones), I think his major contributions came before his Nobel before he got involved in the politics. I liked his 'Shesher Kabita', written in 1920 among his post Nobel works.
    Jayan



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    Default Re: Nobel winners who wrote some of their best works after the award?

    Definitely second the Eugene O'Neill mention. "Long Day's Journey into Night" is arguably the greatest English language play of the century and was written after his prize.

    Yeats is another really obvious example. "The Tower" and "The Winding Stair" are often considered his best works, and they are both post-Nobel.

    It is definitely difficult to find many others; for example, I've only ever read Saramago's early stuff, and not his more recent books. I've heard mixed things about them, so I don't know if I should count him.

    Then you get writers like Gao Xingjian, who since the Nobel has mostly stopped writing and focused on his painting and other art. Besides some poetry, I think he might even be retired from writing.

    Seamus Heaney certainly continued to write some brilliant poetry after his prize, but I don't know if any of it could be called better than their pre-prize works, but at least comparable. In fact, many of the poets that won the prize during the Nobel's big poetry obsession of the 1970s (Elytis, Montale, Alexandre, et al) continued to put out great collections. But it is always harder to judge these than novels, I think.

    Kenzaburo Oe's "The Changeling" is his most famous work here in America and that was also post-Nobel, and is a pretty good book. To be honest I don't personally like it all that much, but lots of other people (including on these forums, IIRC) cite it as his best.

    "The Fish Can Sing" is, in my opinion, the best work by Halldor Laxness, and I believe that was his first post-Nobel novel.

    Faulkner won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer (TWICE) after the Nobel, plus some great short stories (Notes on a Horse Thief might be his best); that may be the most distinguished post-Nobel career that I can think of.

    G.B. Shaw won an Academy Award after his Nobel, which is an interesting trivia fact, but it was really just for the screen-play of a play he'd written before, so it doesn't count.

    There are many who wrote extensively after the Nobel, but I have simply not read their works. Claude Simon, Elias Canetti, Heinrich Boll, etc.

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    Default Re: Nobel winners who wrote some of their best works after the award?

    What about Thomas Mann? He wrote his Doctor Faustus almost twenty years later after he obtained the Nobel. And then he was nominated to get another Nobel! Hilarious.

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    Default Re: Nobel winners who wrote some of their best works after the award?

    Quote Originally Posted by Vazquez View Post
    Wow, I didn't know about that! Curious thing! Maybe Garcia Marquez was nominated again, too, after so many great books post-Nobel?
    Probably. We won't know that in many years to come. But in my opinion his only masterpiece after the Nobel was Love in the Time of Cholera.

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    Default Re: Nobel winners who wrote some of their best works after the award?

    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel del Real View Post
    Probably. We won't know that in many years to come. But in my opinion his only masterpiece after the Nobel was Love in the Time of Cholera.
    True, but LitToC is not just a masterpiece, it's arguably one of the best books of the 20th century. Among prose writers, he is in recent times the only writer that stood a chance of being renominated (don't know much about the poets).

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    Default Re: Nobel winners who wrote some of their best works after the award?

    Quote Originally Posted by redheadshadz View Post
    For many writers the Nobel is a sort of a kiss of death, as afterwards plenty of the laureates go on to produce very few books of merit. Just look at Steinbeck, Bellow, Morrison, Naipaul, Golding, Kawabata, and especially Sinclair Lewis, among a bunch of others.
    Kawabata barely produced anything after he was awarded the prize. I can only think of the short novel Tanpopo and a couple of short stories. He committed suicide soon after. I would categorize him with Munro and Transtromer, in the sense that he was basically done with writing by the time he won.
    Last edited by Uemarasan; 23-Jul-2014 at 19:36.

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    Default Re: Nobel winners who wrote some of their best works after the award?

    Lars Gillensten, the secretary of the Swedish Academy, told me at Stockholm: “Now—write, write! . . . Afterward, most laureates write nothing else.” And so, “afterward” I wrote a big novel, The Acacia, published last fall, which the critics, from the communists to the extreme right, including the Catholics, have called the best of my books.

    - Claude Simon, in his Paris Review interview


    I would add Czeslaw Milosz, who published a number of good poetry volumes and books of essays between his Nobel win in 1980 and his death.

    THE GULAG ARCHIPELAGO and THE RED WHEEL were post-Nobel Solzhenitsyn works.

    I quite like Coetzee's post-Nobel novels (in fact aside from DISGRACE they're all I've read), especially DIARY OF A BAD 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

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    Default Re: Nobel winners who wrote some of their best works after the award?

    Quote Originally Posted by RASimmons View Post
    Seamus Heaney certainly continued to write some brilliant poetry after his prize, but I don't know if any of it could be called better than their pre-prize works, but at least comparable. In fact, many of the poets that won the prize during the Nobel's big poetry obsession of the 1970s (Elytis, Montale, Alexandre, et al) continued to put out great collections. But it is always harder to judge these than novels, I think.
    Personally I like Heaney's early stuff the best, but his translation of Beowulf is breathtaking and I much like his commentary in the beginning (though I've heard it is less a translation of the poem and more Heaney's take on it). I wonder if we can include this. It is a translation but he did win the Whitbread book of the year for it.

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    Default Re: Nobel winners who wrote some of their best works after the award?

    Quote Originally Posted by liehtzu View Post
    Lars Gillensten, the secretary of the Swedish Academy, told me at Stockholm: “Now—write, write! . . . Afterward, most laureates write nothing else.” And so, “afterward” I wrote a big novel, The Acacia, published last fall, which the critics, from the communists to the extreme right, including the Catholics, have called the best of my books.

    - Claude Simon, in his Paris Review interview


    I would add Czeslaw Milosz, who published a number of good poetry volumes and books of essays between his Nobel win in 1980 and his death.

    THE GULAG ARCHIPELAGO and THE RED WHEEL were post-Nobel Solzhenitsyn works.

    I quite like Coetzee's post-Nobel novels (in fact aside from DISGRACE they're all I've read), especially DIARY OF A BAD YEAR.
    Well you've done it. You made me want to start reading Claude Simon. The Flanders Road should be arriving in my mail box soon...

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    Default Re: Nobel winners who wrote some of their best works after the award?

    I've only read The Acacia. Tough, really dense writing - the now-typical sentences-that-go-for-pages is one thing, but also parentheses within parentheses within parentheses... things which can annoy me a great deal because I find them generally unnecessary show-offy stylistic tics, but it really is an excellent novel for all that. Richard Howard must've had a helluva time translating it.
    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 winners who wrote some of their best works after the award?

    I loved The Flanders Road, though truth be told when I was reading it it was a bit overwhelming. Like liehtzu said, the sentences go on forever, often changing scenes (or returning to them) with little warning, and at times I contemplated giving up. But the second I finished the book I knew I had made the right choice. It's now one of my favorites. The sheer genius of it is staggering, and as a reflection of the mind it is quite accurate. The best way I have of summing him up is imagining the Benjy and Quentin sections of The Sound and the Fury combined.

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