Sunday, October 12, 2008

And the winner is... Europe!

The Nobel prize for Literature goes to: Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio!

Yeah, I have no idea who he is either, but I don't read 'literature'. Monsieur Le Clezio writes about 'the perils of modern life' and often deals with globalisation and the environment.

Of more interest is that the Nobel judges have, once again, been accused of an anti-US bias. Only three American authors have won the prize in thirty years. The Swedish Academy president Horace Engdahl replied to the criticism, saying American writers were too influenced by their own pop culture to be able rival Europe as the centre of the literary world. ABC

Whoa, harsh and arrogant. Alfred Nobel made no mention of the winner coming from 'the centre of the literary world' in his will that bestowed the $US2 million prize. He said: "to the person who shall have produced in the field of literature the most outstanding work of an idealistic tendency".

After reading Mr Engdahl's comments, I would suggest the Academy is biased, not just against U.S. authors, but any country other than Europe. It begs the question on what he would say about African writers, Australian writers, South American writers or Asian writers - since they're not European - or whether he thinks about them at all - since they're not European.

Is he saying that to win, you must be European and write about world issues in a literary style? Oh, no! That means I'll nevah win!!!!

While I deplore such a comment, the worst damage has to be to the institution of Nobel. The prize is held in high esteem; there is no greater literary award. Now, I think it's tarnished a little by the ill-considered words of an idiot, and Monsieur Le Clezio's achievement diminished. Two million dollars should ease the sting.

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