e a m harris

Roaming the byways of literature

Archive for the tag “Nobel Prize for literature”

Nobel time

Nobel medal

Tomorrow the Nobel Prizewinner in Literature will be announced. No doubt this is a nervous time for anyone who may be on the list of potentials.

Reading about it and about previous winners made me wonder why there is a prize for literature and not for the other arts. No doubt somewhere in all the bumf on the prizes there’s an explanation, but I haven’t found it.

One reason I can think of is availability. A written work can be produced in thousands of copies, available the world over, and still be the original work – no one expects or wants to read the author’s manuscript. The twentieth edition is still ‘the orginal’.

But for a painting or a piece of sculpture there can be only one. OK copies can be made – but they’re still copies.

No prize for music is a bit of a mystery. Perhaps its dependence on performance and the fact that a bad performance can affect the final decision, makes music a bad candidate. Or perhaps Mr Nobel just wasn’t into music.

Browsing through the Nobel Prize website I found this rule that I didn’t know before:

The names of the nominees cannot be revealed until 50 years later.

So although we’ll know the winner, only the younger people around today will know the ‘losers’. I think that’s a good thing. But I hope the nominees know they’ve been nominated. Even to get that far in such a prestigious competition must do wonders for someone’s self-belief.

The Nobel prize and politics

Nobel

So the Nobel committee has announced a Chinese winner, Mo Yan, for this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature. In doing so they’ve set off a lot of natter about politics, political correctness and who, according to political correctness, is an ‘appropriate‘ winner. Apparently some people think that Mr Yan doesn’t complain enough about his government.

And I always thought the prize was about the quality of someone’s writing.

In my opinion the increasing politicisation of almost everything is getting extremely boring.

The Guardian article quotes a professor of Chinese, Michel Hockx, saying:

Mo Yan, according to Hockx, “knows how to write a good story”, filling his tales of remote communities “with a magical atmosphere, without shying away from the harsh and sometimes violent realities that he has witnessed”.

IMHO that makes Mr Yan an ‘appropriate’ winner.

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