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Thread: Nobel Prize in Literature 2017

  1. #161

    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2017

    I don't see a trend yet toward populism since it's only been the last two laureates? Not enough to press the panic button quite yet. Since 2001, I would number only three writers who are widely read or recognized (Ishiguro, Dylan, and Munro, although her status is debatable: she is relatively under the radar in non-Anglophone countries). And then only those who have actually studied literature in university or are drawn to reading a lot of literature in the first place would know who Vargas Llosa, Pinter, Naipaul, and Coetzee are. I think Shephard is guilty of living in his own aesthete bubble without contact with, you know, ordinary folk. He probably should have spent more time contemplating his ideas before evacuating them from his brain.

    I'm also pretty sure next year's laureate won't be as illustrious as Dylan or Ishiguro.

  2. #162

    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2017

    The Nobel Literature Prize's function is not to highlight obscure authors; it is to reward important writers. Sometimes it goes to obscure but important writers, and other times it goes to popular and important writers. Handing the prize out on the basis of obscurity would be little better than handing it out on the basis of popularity. Ideally neither should really matter; it's the importance of the body of work that should matter, regardless of how many people have read of it.

  3. #163

    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2017

    Quote Originally Posted by Myshkin View Post
    The Nobel Literature Prize's function is not to highlight obscure authors; it is to reward important writers. Sometimes it goes to obscure but important writers, and other times it goes to popular and important writers. Handing the prize out on the basis of obscurity would be little better than handing it out on the basis of popularity. Ideally neither should really matter; it's the importance of the body of work that should matter, regardless of how many people have read of it.
    Yup. All the way back to Kipling, Hemingway, Steinbeck, Shaw... None of these were obscure.

  4. #164
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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2017

    I never wrote they should have awarded the Nobel to any obscure author. Since the beginning of our speculations, I always stated I was rooting for Adonis...probably the most famous living poet in the world.
    I'm perfectly aware about the names of previous Laureates and, actually, I do think the SA gave too much attention to obscure writers through the decades, criminally neglecting many literary titans of the past.
    What I said about Ishiguro is that he represents a mainstream choice and a confirmation of this recent SA populist drift. Recent.
    In the last three years we had a journalist, a singer and a superstar writer as winners: I can definetely see an undeniable populist tendency in it.
    Am I panicking about that? Honestly, nope. Do I have a right to dislike it? Oh yes.

  5. #165

    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2017

    Of course, it's perfectly fine to feel that way. My criticism was really directed toward Shephard because he has a platform of influence.

    I'd have to say that Alexievich is certainly not a populist choice. Is she still even an active journalist (and journalism isn't necessarily populist in the first place)? The only reason we know about her is because of these forums and the betting sites. Same with Adonis. I doubt someone who reads, say, Franzen or Ferrante even knows who Adonis is. In fact, I doubt a lot of readers who don't study or deliberately seek out non-Western poetry (a small group within a small group, indeed) have any idea he exists. He'd be an obscure winner for many people, even those who are well-read. Frankly, no one reads poetry anymore, which is a shame.
    Last edited by Uemarasan; 06-Oct-2017 at 02:41.

  6. #166
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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2017

    Quote Originally Posted by Uemarasan View Post
    I'd have to say that Alexievich is certainly not a populist choice. Is she still even an active journalist (and journalism isn't necessarily populist in the first place)? The only reason we know about her is because of these forums and the betting sites. Same with Adonis. I doubt someone who reads, say, Franzen or Ferrante even knows who Adonis is. In fact, I doubt a lot of readers who don't study or deliberately seek out non-Western poetry (a small group within a small group, indeed) have any idea he exists. He'd be an obscure winner for many people, even those who are well-read. Frankly, no one reads poetry anymore, which is a shame.
    I didn't make it clear, my bad! I wasn't criticizing Alexievich's choice (I do agree she wasn't that popular), but her "literary" field: the non-fiction. I read non-fiction, most people do that, but I would consider it as literature only to some populist extent. That's why I mentioned her.
    Also I agree on what you say about Adonis. That's exactly why I always hope that at least Nobel Prize for Literature bring into the spotlight such invisible giants and - call me romantic - I do think it should also have this mission. Hence my disappointment over the last three years.
    Last edited by Dante; 06-Oct-2017 at 11:19.

  7. #167

    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2017

    Quote Originally Posted by Myshkin View Post
    The Nobel Literature Prize's function is not to highlight obscure authors; it is to reward important writers. Sometimes it goes to obscure but important writers, and other times it goes to popular and important writers. Handing the prize out on the basis of obscurity would be little better than handing it out on the basis of popularity. Ideally neither should really matter; it's the importance of the body of work that should matter, regardless of how many people have read of it.
    I think this is very well put. It is the only way that I managed to reconcile Bob Dylan's win with my hopes for something else. And I can only assume Modiano is an important literary figure in the French Lit world, in the sense that he has been an influence of some sort. I still haven't cracked into his books, but I think that over the years the way he has been judged as a laureate has been more positive than negative.

    Ishiguro might not be, though he might as well. I'm just not sure that he is important, or influential. Maybe I'm wrong. I haven't really been convinced by the op-eds I've read that he was the right person to reward. I wish somebody would be able to do so, but I know the hard work is actually my own responsibility - reading a book or two more, and accepting whatever more well-developed judgement I may be able to make. But until I have the time to do so I wouldn't mind somebody, anybody (?), writing a damned good explanation of why he won.

  8. #168
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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2017

    Quote Originally Posted by OverTheMountains View Post
    I think this is very well put. It is the only way that I managed to reconcile Bob Dylan's win with my hopes for something else. And I can only assume Modiano is an important literary figure in the French Lit world, in the sense that he has been an influence of some sort. I still haven't cracked into his books, but I think that over the years the way he has been judged as a laureate has been more positive than negative.

    Ishiguro might not be, though he might as well. I'm just not sure that he is important, or influential. Maybe I'm wrong. I haven't really been convinced by the op-eds I've read that he was the right person to reward. I wish somebody would be able to do so, but I know the hard work is actually my own responsibility - reading a book or two more, and accepting whatever more well-developed judgement I may be able to make. But until I have the time to do so I wouldn't mind somebody, anybody (?), writing a damned good explanation of why he won.
    This article sheds some light on Modiano

    https://www.newstatesman.com/culture...ize-literature

    As for Ishiguro, I agree. He isn't specifically influential or important as far as the legacy of his work goes. It seems far more likely that he won becase

    1. Kenzaburo Oe loves him and has probably been nominating him for years
    2. He has a slim body of works, all of which were positively received. In this sense he's a fairly inoffensive choice. As a British Asian he's saved from some outright criticisms of how white-washed the laureates as a whole are. Meanwhile, the Academy and press are spared from having to deal with the mess that awarding Rushdie would have caused (for political reasons and because his bibliography is all over the place in terms of quality). To me, it's essentially why the press at the announcement seemed so unenthused. He won, He's acceptable, but really, not someone who's going to provoke much of a reaction, be it positive or negative. In this sense he's a foil to Bob Dylan, who's sprawling oeuvre and questionability as "literature" caused an endless shitstorm for the Academy that didn't die down for nearly an entire year.

    I agree, as a whole, he isn't doing anything specifically important (in terms of breaking new literary ground/technique) or in terms of social commentary. His influence doesn't seem like something that really widely exists. To me, he's just another in a long list of English language authors, who aren't white, and whose work straddles continents, identities, and discussions of race/self etc. Types like: Rushdie, Arundhati Roy, Zadie Smith, Mohsin Hamid, etc. His Booker win is rather negligible considering many of these names have won a Booker or similar prizes. He has Orders of Britain and France. So in a sense, he has won "prizes." This in no way means he's bad. Just that as a whole, there's no particularly stand out reason for him winning.

    Basically, he was an inoffensive winner who's very little outspoken (though he did write an editorial on racism recently), his work is mostly non-political, and he has a slim body of works all of which are of acceptable quality. He's been presumably spammed by Oe for decades (Oe was saying Mo Yan should win for nearly 20 years before he won. You can almost certainly bet that he nominated him).

    I have no problem with him winning, but as a whole, he's one of the dullest picks they've had in a long time. I just don't see any real reason people would get excited over him unless they're huge fans to begin with or super into being British and having a British winner.

    Even if I despise the winner and their works, its far more interesting to me when laureate are chosen whose work is truly doing something new or unique with literary forms or who are from "foreign" countries. That being (for me) ,those outside of the realms of the touristy countries of Western Europe and and the USA/Canada.

    Dylan winning for lyrics (poetry) surely infuriated loads of people, but at least they were rewarding something unique. Something new.

    I just don't see what's supposed to be particularly noteworthy or exciting in 2017 about a British, English-language novelist writing about butlers and cloning (which has been beat to death over decades of actual science fiction writing) in a prose style that's entirely commonplace. Someone from Asia or Africa, someone truly doing new things with form, or even a playwright (the first in 10+ years) would have been far more interesting.

    There loads of worse English-language novelists that could have won though: most of the ones I mentioned above, Edna Obrien, AS Byatt, Ian McEwan, Maragret Atwood, most of the Australians who occasionally get mentioned as being potential winners" solely because they're Australian and an Australian hasn't won in ages, etc

    So at the very least, his win doesn't leave a poor taste in my mouth. Just a bland taste.
    Last edited by Isahoinp; 06-Oct-2017 at 07:20.

  9. #169

    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2017

    Nicely put Isahoinp. I've never read Ishiguro before, although by pure luck, I borrowed a book of his from the library on monday. Although, part of the fun of being interested in the Nobel Prize is the unpredictability, this win seems to be to be a gesture to please everyone who enjoys a good, solid, well written novel. I feel as though Atwood, Rushdie and so on and so forths names could easily replace Ishiguro's.

  10. #170
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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2017

    I think it's important to keep in mind as well something someone mentioned before, that apparently the SA has loved Ishiguro for quite some time now and maybe that's just what they're doing, awarding a writer THEY found was deserving, not necessarily one that would please this or that kind of group (or in this case, almost everyone). I may be wrong, but some times this popular narrative of "the Academy is saying this or that with such a writer winning" kind of annoys me.

  11. #171
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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2017

    “I apologize to Margaret Atwood that it’s not her getting this prize. I genuinely thought she would win it very soon. I never for a moment thought I would. I always thought it would be Margaret Atwood very soon; and I still think that, I still hope that,” Ishiguro told The Globe and Mail Thursday, a few hours after learning he had won the Nobel.

  12. #172
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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2017

    When I was reading The Last Temptation of Christ, what disappointed me was how programmatic it felt: you could see the scaffolding of the book’s different sections; the what and the why Kazantzakis was doing what he was doing, and predict what he would be doing next.


    Ishiguro being a professionally trained writer, you can see the same programmatic approach and the scaffolding of the sections of at least some of his novels. Let’s consider When We Were Orphans, for example.


    From Wikipedia: “Michiko Kakutani said that "Mr. Ishiguro simply ran the notion of a detective story through the word processing program of his earlier novels, then patched together the output”. You can guess Ishiguro’s approach, he chose beforehand the parts he would use to put together his novel and then tried to transform them into something new and his, in fact some critics blamed the narrative voice for a failure to cohere and convince.


    Let’s list some of the novel’s sources, Dickens’ Great Expectations' revelation about the unexpected source of funding for the main character, the ending from Sansho the bailiff about the reunion with the mother after suffering sexual servitude, Borges plot about the detective being played/manipulated by the culprit from Death and the Compass, Kipling’s ending to The Man Who Was were memory/recognition is achieved through a small detail mixed with a little sprinkling from the ending of The Gardener, etc…


    It must be noted how flawless the pedigree of the chosen influences is, how interesting the experiment of mixing them is, how brave and confident the writer endeavoring to come up with a coherent whole out of them must be. It also explains why it takes him about 5 years to produce a book: it is a lot of work.


    How successful Ishiguro is in achieving his goals must be judged by each reader for each of his books. As a matter of fact, a friend at our sister site, the concocted forests, told me that everybody has a different favorite book by Ishiguro.
    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

  13. #173
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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2017

    Quote Originally Posted by Isahoinp View Post
    I just don't see what's supposed to be particularly noteworthy or exciting in 2017 about a British, English-language novelist writing about butlers and cloning (which has been beat to death over decades of actual science fiction writing) in a prose style that's entirely commonplace. Someone from Asia or Africa, someone truly doing new things with form, or even a playwright (the first in 10+ years) would have been far more interesting.
    The Nobel Prize in Literature isn't meant to award anything new or experimental. It awards outstanding literature that moves in some kind of "ideal direction," whatever that means.
    Quote Originally Posted by Isahoinp View Post
    There loads of worse English-language novelists that could have won though: AS Byatt...
    I agree Byatt would have been a weird choice, but what makes her a bad writer, in your humble () opinion? Possession is easily one of the best books of the 90s. Her Frederica quartet is amazing. Where she fails, I think, is with shorter novels and with short fiction in general, but she's a solid writer and a wonderful stylist, all in all. Have you read any of her work?

  14. #174
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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2017

    Quote Originally Posted by Bartleby View Post
    In Portuguese we have a very similar excursion
    Same thing in Spanish

    Quote Originally Posted by Uemarasan View Post
    I don't see a trend yet toward populism since it's only been the last two laureates? Not enough to press the panic button quite yet. Since 2001, I would number only three writers who are widely read or recognized (Ishiguro, Dylan, and Munro, although her status is debatable: she is relatively under the radar in non-Anglophone countries). And then only those who have actually studied literature in university or are drawn to reading a lot of literature in the first place would know who Vargas Llosa, Pinter, Naipaul, and Coetzee are. I think Shephard is guilty of living in his own aesthete bubble without contact with, you know, ordinary folk. He probably should have spent more time contemplating his ideas before evacuating them from his brain.

    I'm also pretty sure next year's laureate won't be as illustrious as Dylan or Ishiguro.
    Vargas Llosa name was HUGE in the Spanish language countries I might say worldwide too. It's ridiculous to call him an author under-the-radar!

    Quote Originally Posted by Dante View Post
    I never wrote they should have awarded the Nobel to any obscure author. Since the beginning of our speculations, I always stated I was rooting for Adonis...probably the most famous living poet in the world.
    I'm perfectly aware about the names of previous Laureates and, actually, I do think the SA gave too much attention to obscure writers through the decades, criminally neglecting many literary titans of the past.
    What I said about Ishiguro is that he represents a mainstream choice and a confirmation of this recent SA populist drift. Recent.
    In the last three years we had a journalist, a singer and a superstar writer as winners: I can definetely see an undeniable populist tendency in it.
    Am I panicking about that? Honestly, nope. Do I have a right to dislike it? Oh yes.
    Ishiguro a superstar? Come on, you're talking as if the awarded would've been Murakami.

  15. #175

    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2017

    We'd have to qualify what we mean by superstar. But to Dante's point, I think if you have two Academy-Award nominated films, the Booker prize, millions of books sold, and make six to seven figures for book contracts, you might just be a superstar, no?

  16. #176
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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2017

    Quote Originally Posted by Ater, Lividus, Ruber, & V View Post
    We'd have to qualify what we mean by superstar. But to Dante's point, I think if you have two Academy-Award nominated films, the Booker prize, millions of books sold, and make six to seven figures for book contracts, you might just be a superstar, no?
    That was exactly my perspective, thank you.

  17. #177

    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2017

    I will say I'm excited about the potential of this.

    https://www.the-tls.co.uk/articles/p...winning-nobel/

    "Ishiguro has spoken about the freeing nature of his Booker win, with his star in the ascendancy. “If I was ever going to write something strange and difficult that was the time.” The result was The Unconsoled (1995), "

    Perhaps this win will make him feel confident to continue writing out of his comfort, like how many see The Buried Giant.

  18. #178
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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2017

    Quote Originally Posted by Isahoinp View Post
    It seemed unlikely to me. I was also expecting the Academy to turn its nose up at fantasy.
    Do you really think one second that you can imagine what the members of SA have in their mind?
    Deus ex machina

  19. #179

    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2017

    Yes, yes he does. We all had to experience it this past year lol.

    He should learn "à goupil endormi rien ne tombe en la gueule." He's "à mauvais ouvrier point de bon outil."

  20. #180
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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2017

    Now, now, let's not gang up on the kid,

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