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Thread: Nobel Prize in Literature 2016 Speculation

  1. #41
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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2016 Speculation

    Quote Originally Posted by Vazquez View Post
    Not really, no. Usually they cite one or a couple of books they recommend, but they never (recently) said a writer won because of a single work.

    Yes, exactly. I have no idea why this misconception is so common. Occasionally one work can elevate an author body of work, like Gao Xingjian's Soul Mountain, but even then he had a prolific career as a playwright and had published short stories, other novels, literary criticism, etc. If those hadn't been as high quality, I doubt he would've won.

    Also, Gregg, I think you make the case for Erdrich with that first post of yours! No winner has really explored Native American life she has. Also, for "deserving" authors, I think the biggest points are that they deal with weighty issues and write with care towards their prose. Those three last winners may not be Nabokov, but that they choose their words with thought and precision is obvious. Beyond that, it's mostly individual preference!

  2. #42

    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2016 Speculation

    To begin, I would also like to see Rushdie win. He's certainly got the body of work to suggest he is deserving, and Midnight's Children is a stellar piece of work which I must return to before too long. Shame is great. I also love Shalimar the Clown. Not everything is fantastic, particularly the works he has produced in the past 15 years, but it might be that his role as a defender of Free Speech is becoming more important to him than his vocation as a truly original and exciting crafter of language. It would be great to see him return to his old, energetic self though.

    Quote Originally Posted by redheadshadz View Post
    Yes, exactly. I have no idea why this misconception is so common. Occasionally one work can elevate an author body of work, like Gao Xingjian's Soul Mountain, but even then he had a prolific career as a playwright and had published short stories, other novels, literary criticism, etc. If those hadn't been as high quality, I doubt he would've won.

    Also, Gregg, I think you make the case for Erdrich with that first post of yours! No winner has really explored Native American life she has. Also, for "deserving" authors, I think the biggest points are that they deal with weighty issues and write with care towards their prose. Those three last winners may not be Nabokov, but that they choose their words with thought and precision is obvious. Beyond that, it's mostly individual preference!
    I would agree. It is very rare that a single work gets a citation, and even in the cases that it does (Hemingway, for example), the body of work still remains remarkably strong in support of that single work. As far as I know there are very few writers who have had a single masterpiece so magnificent as to overshadow everything else they have created as to give them the prize even if everything else is horrible. Maybe I am wrong though. I would say that good examples would be Munro and Kawabata, and Modiano and Heaney. These four winners have all released masterful work, consistently, throughout their careers, but none of their individual works would be considered the positive masterpiece of their careers, singularly more wonderful than anything else they have created. No, their body is what matters, not their best works.

    With regards to Erdrich, thank you redhead for responding in the only way I possible could have. Nobody writes about the experience of the First Nations in North America with quite the same authority and compassion and love as Louise Erdrich, at least not with her consistently high quality of output or her reputation (though it would certainly be wrong to suggest that there are not quite a few fantastic indigenous writers in North America). Erdrich brings in indigenous notions of nature, religion, experiences with colonialism, government, internal divisions, gender. And she does it in a manner which is both anti-colonial and post-colonial in the way that colonialism in North America almost must be understood in contemporary America - it is a very different kind of tackling of colonialism than one finds in African or Latin American literature.

    I mean, TRACKS is an amazing novel. She dances through the many many many themes that she brings forth with complete control. And she's a damn fine writer, in control, like many other writers in North America. She doesn't need to have the flashiest of words, the flashiest of sentence structures. She controls her art by her structure, her shape, her pacing. That control (can I say that word once more in this post?) is fantastic. I wasn´t lying when I said she writes with the power of Morisson. That may, though, be what works against her in a way.

    She's also a fine poet, for those who are interested in poetry. Not world-class, but it does not work against her nomination as far as I am concerned. Below I have copied one of her poems, entitled I Was Sleeping Where the Black Oaks Move.

    We watched from the house

    as the river grew, helpless

    and terrible in its unfamiliar body.

    Wrestling everything into it,

    the water wrapped around trees

    until their life-hold was broken.

    They went down, one by one,

    and the river dragged off their covering.



    Nests of the herons, roots washed to bones,

    snags of soaked bark on the shoreline:

    a whole forest pulled through the teeth

    of the spillway. Trees surfacing

    singly, where the river poured off

    into arteries for fields below the reservation.



    When at last it was over, the long removal,

    they had all become the same dry wood.

    We walked among them, the branches

    whitening in the raw sun.

    Above us drifted herons,

    alone, hoarse-voiced, broken,

    settling their beaks among the hollows.

    Grandpa said, These are the ghosts of the tree people

    moving among us, unable to take their rest.



    Sometimes now, we dream our way back to the heron dance.

    Their long wings are bending the air

    into circles through which they fall.

    They rise again in shifting wheels.

    How long must we live in the broken figures

    their necks make, narrowing the sky.


  3. #43
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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2016 Speculation

    Vazquez, I generally agree with your response to my first post. You are correct, Englund announced the award for Modiano. Also, I went back and viewed the interview with Danius, and my memory was not completely accurate. Danius was very clear that Alexievich was also to be seen as creating a new genre with her books. So form and content.

    As to my second post, let me clarify that I was thinking about the entire history of the award. On the single works, please look at the citations for 1902, 1919, 1920, 1924, 1929, 1932, 1954 which all mention a particular work. Some have qualifiers that such as "particularly" or "most recently" which suggest the author created other worthy work. But some do not. I acknowledge that you qualified your comment with (recently) and laugh, because without knowing it you challenged my once again faulty memory. I thought Golding was cited for Lord of the Flies, which is not the case.

    I truly am curious to know what each of you thinks makes an author worthy of the prize. A thank you to the Redhead for his reply. I myself no longer have the slightest idea what to expect, and look forward to each new announcement, hoping it will bring a new writer to my attention. Which, frankly, is why I read everyone's postings on this forum.

    BTW Vazquez, I thought of you recently. Book Depository recently sent an email featuring various works from Brazillian writers to coincide with the Rio Olympics. To my surprise, and delight, "Dirty Poem" was included.

  4. #44
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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2016 Speculation

    Thanks for the Erdrich poem, Mountains. I tend to ignore poetry by novelists, but this was fairly good. I'll have to give it a chance. Do you know Simon Ortiz's from Sand Creek? It's worth reading if you get the chance.

  5. #45
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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2016 Speculation

    In Hamsun's case (he won in 1922 I think?...), they may have singled out one work, but before Growth of the Soil, he had written a number of acclaimed books, so I see his case as similar to Gao Xingjian's. No idea about some of the others. As for Golding, if you're interested, you should check out John Carey's biography of him. I had had little interested in Golding before that, but the bio was one of the best I've read. Lord of the Flies must have played a role in his Nobel win, but Carey mentions what originally got him nominated was Darkness Visible, a book proclaimed as his masterpiece when it first came out and now thought of as a mess of a story.

    Also, just finished Microcosms by Magris yesterday. Beautiful writing, but after Danube (which I loved), this seemed like more of the same, except slightly less interesting because some anecdotes in it are apparently fiction, which doesn't work as well for this style. Out of those three I mentioned before (him, Javier Marias and Ishiguro), he's no longer tied for first with Marias but still above Ishiguro.

  6. #46
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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2016 Speculation

    Quote Originally Posted by redheadshadz View Post
    and now thought of as a mess of a story
    Yes, but who's doing the thinking?

  7. #47
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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2016 Speculation

    Quote Originally Posted by Gregg H. View Post
    BTW Vazquez, I thought of you recently. Book Depository recently sent an email featuring various works from Brazillian writers to coincide with the Rio Olympics. To my surprise, and delight, "Dirty Poem" was included.
    Ah, that is nice! I love that book.

    In my trusty book about the prize there is a session about those awarded because of one book. I will check and write here about what they say...

  8. #48
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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2016 Speculation

    Quote Originally Posted by Vazquez View Post
    Ah, that is nice! I love that book.

    In my trusty book about the prize there is a session about those awarded because of one book. I will check and write here about what they say...
    I just checked the book (written by two members of the Academy), and they did mention the authors who won mostly because of one book, but they say it has been so long time ago that we must forget about it - complete works from now on.

  9. #49
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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2016 Speculation

    Which authors were those? I imagine Mommsen, some of those people in the 10s and 20s, but I'm curious.

  10. #50

    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2016 Speculation

    I'm with redheadshadz - I wonder if they regret giving the prize to any of those who won based on a reference to a single work. I also wonder if there are many authors who have won for a single work but whose citation doesn't suggest as such. But that seems like a conversation to be had in another thread, no?

  11. #51
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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2016 Speculation

    Quote Originally Posted by OverTheMountains View Post
    I'm with redheadshadz - I wonder if they regret giving the prize to any of those who won based on a reference to a single work. I also wonder if there are many authors who have won for a single work but whose citation doesn't suggest as such. But that seems like a conversation to be had in another thread, no?
    Apparently it only happened during the first half of the XX century. Last one was Hemingway and they only quoted "most recently demonstrated in..."
    So they didn't quote but it's a fact García Márquez was awarded for Cien Años de Soledad.

  12. #52

    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2016 Speculation

    From wiki:

    Mommsen: "the greatest living master of the art of historical writing, with special reference to his monumental work, A History of Rome"

    Carl Spitteler: "in special appreciation of his epic, Olympian Spring”

    Knut Hamsun: “for his monumental work, Growth of the Soil”

    Władysław Reymont: “for his great national epic, The Peasants”

    Thomas Mann: "principally for his great novel, Buddenbrooks, which has won steadily increased recognition as one of the classic works of contemporary literature"

    John Galsworthy: "for his distinguished art of narration, which takes its highest form in The Forsyte Saga"

    Roger Martin du Gard: "for the artistic power and truth with which he has depicted human conflict as well as some fundamental aspects of contemporary life in his novel cycle Les Thibault”

    Ernest Hemingway: "for his mastery of the art of narrative, most recently demonstrated in The Old Man and the Sea, and for the influence that he has exerted on contemporary style"

    Those are the ones in the citations, but, of course, there are some highlighted on the website, such as Rolland (Jean-Christophe); Xingjian (Soul Mountain); Lessing (The Golden Notebook); Grass (Tin Drum); Hesse (Glassbead Game); Andrić (Bridge); Mikhail Sholokhov (And Quiet Flows the Don); Márquez (Cien); Naipaul (Biswas and Enigma); along with a host of others.

    And, absolutely, how could we forget Erik Axel Karlfeldt who won for “The poetry of Erik Axel Karlfeldt”?

  13. #53
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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2016 Speculation

    Quote Originally Posted by Gregg H. View Post
    Then, more generally as to these threads over the years, what do people mean when they use the phrase "deserve the Nobel"? Looking over the list of past winners I cannot see any clear or consistent criteria. Let me take my own hesitation with Erdrich as an example. Content wise, her most recent books explore profound issues through complex and fully developed stories. My hesitation stems from two other aspects of her output: 1. her early books seem to be slight compared to her recent efforts, suggesting inconsistency; 2. her pose style is unexceptional. So? Past winners have been cited for a single book as opposed to their body of work, and none of the past three winners has what I would call an exceptional prose style. So, how do you "deserve" the Nobel? At heart isn't this the question what makes a work "literature" and not merely "writing"?
    Good Morning Gregg H,

    It is of course impossible to answer this question in a few lines. Personally when I say that I find that an author does not deserve the Nobel Prize I mainly base myself on the quality of writing. This is why in the case of Mrs. Louise ERDRICH I speak only about “The master butchers singing club” and not from all his work.

    Having read this book where I find her writing very simple and ordinary, and for example, Mr. Kazuo ISHIGURO’s, “The remains of the day”, I find ISHIGURO’s writing absolutely amazing, and from superior quality! ... However, I recognize that in order to correctly judge a writer, he would have read the entirety of his writings...

    Anyway, I am still saying I don't understand too well this whole story about Ms. Louise ERDRICH, since she has no chance to win the Nobel this year, this conversation could therefore take place… Next year…


    Quote Originally Posted by Gregg H. View Post
    BTW Septularisen, your list of poets in last year's thread gave me hours of enthralling reading. Goffert was an especially excellent read.
    I suppose that you talking here about Mr. Guy GOFFETTE?... Anyway, you’re absolutely welcome!...
    Deus ex machina

  14. #54

    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2016 Speculation

    I wouldn't be surprised to see another female writer honored this year, though I mostly expect a male author to get the prize. With last year's winner, the academy has shown itself at least willing to break away somewhat from its generally conservative bent.

  15. #55
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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2016 Speculation

    Great list, Ater!

    Quote Originally Posted by Ater, Lividus, Ruber, & V View Post
    And, absolutely, how could we forget Erik Axel Karlfeldt who won for “The poetry of Erik Axel Karlfeldt”?
    I always laugh when I read this...

  16. #56

    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2016 Speculation

    Quote Originally Posted by Vazquez View Post
    Ah, that is nice! I love that book.

    In my trusty book about the prize there is a session about those awarded because of one book. I will check and write here about what they say...

    What's the name of the book? Thanks.

  17. #57

    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2016 Speculation

    Probably The Nobel Prize in Literature: A Study of the Criteria Behind the Choices by Kjell Espmark.

  18. #58
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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2016 Speculation

    Quote Originally Posted by childeroland View Post
    What's the name of the book? Thanks.
    The book Ater mentioned seems to be from 1986 - and it has more than 200 pages. My book is a Spanish version of some Swedish book (no idea the original title), which is just called in Spanish "El Premio Nobel de Literatura", by Sture Allen and Kjell Espmark. It´s from 2007 and it has about 70 pages.

  19. #59
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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2016 Speculation

    Quote Originally Posted by Uemarasan View Post
    I wouldn't be surprised to see another female writer honored this year, though I mostly expect a male author to get the prize. With last year's winner, the academy has shown itself at least willing to break away somewhat from its generally conservative bent.
    I love that idea. But, I absolutely don't believe that's possible.
    Deus ex machina

  20. #60
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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2016 Speculation

    Quote Originally Posted by Ater, Lividus, Ruber, & V View Post
    Probably The Nobel Prize in Literature: A Study of the Criteria Behind the Choices by Kjell Espmark.
    "Det Litterära Nobelpriset" from Mr. Kjell ESPMARK

    in french : "Le prix Nobel. Histoire intérieure d'une consécration littéraire." 335 pages.

    http://www.critiqueslibres.com/i.php/vcrit/15446

    Very interesting book but dated... 1985.
    The last Nobel Prize you can read the name inside in Jarsolav SEIFERT, Nobel Prize in Litearture 1984!
    Deus ex machina

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