Daily Archives: December 13, 2010

Nobel Prize in Literature

LliteraryLintSmallMario Llosa Vargas… for:

“his cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual’s resistance, revolt, and defeat”.

Why do some authors win the Nobel Prize in Literature, and some don’t?

Here’s what Alfred Nobel said:

“the person who shall have produced in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction”.

…the most outstanding work in an ideal direction…

Ok. sounds good, right? However, if one considers who has been awarded the NPL since its inception, one will very quickly find that ‘field of literature’ excludes all but three ‘genres’ or ‘branches of literature – literary fiction (in its most narrow sense), poetry and theatrical drama.

One genre that is absolutely out the question is children’s’ literature. Despite the fact that many authors of children’s literature would easily qualify for having written “…the most outstanding work in an ideal direction…” and have influenced, changed and educated countless young readers, and often inspired children and young adults to write themselves. Not to mention how many children have BOOKS of quality to thank for saving their lives and sanity.

So what then is ‘great literature’? Well, it’s often not something the general public will read. Or understand.

I am a fairly intelligent and well-educated man. I usually try to read at least one title by the most recent NPL winner, and so far I have failed to finish most books written by an NPL laureate. Why?

Generally because they seem to try to write poetic prose (purple prose) or write so culturally narrow that all points of reference are lost on a guy from the general public.

Example: Gabriel Garcia Marques – I know, lots of people just LOVE magical realism. One reason I don’t is because it is – to my mind – FAKE – pure fraud. It is pretend ‘fantasy’, disguised as ‘real’.  If one wants to write about flying mothers and paranormal experiences, then one should do that and call it pure fantasy, not write it and then try to sell it as ‘high literature’ because ‘fantasy’ is for children…

Example: Winston Churchill – a purely POLITICAL award. He got it for “for his mastery of historical and biographical description as well as for brilliant oratory in defending exalted human values” – yup he got it for ‘defending exalted human values’, not because he could write, he couldn’t, but the Nobel Committee had him up for two nominations – the Peace Prize and the Literature prize. Others that were suggested for nomination for the peace prize in 1945:

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston S. Churchill, Anthony Eden (opposed any intervention against Germany and Hitler prior to WWII), Josef Stalin, Max Litvinov (Stalin’s right hand man during WWII), Edvard Benes (Leader the Czech National Socialist party which was not Nazi, but Fascist), Jan Smuts (leader of a racist nation, who propagated for racial segregation).

Connect the dots.

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