I came across a thought provoking article on Electric Literature's website titled, Do We Still Need the Nobel Prize in Literature? by Carrie V. Mullins. In the article, Carrie V. Mullins wrote the following:
The Nobel Prize has been awarded in five categories since 1895, and over that time it has gained a serious amount of cultural cachet. You probably respect a Nobel laureate even if you don’t know much, if anything, about the actual criteria considered for the prize. Nobel stipulated that the prize for literature should honor the person who produced “the most outstanding work in an ideal direction.” It’s a vague directive, and one that has caused many issues of interpretation. Sara Danius, who was the Permanent Secretary of the Academy until she resigned last year, once told an audience at Duke, her alma matter, “What does it take to win the Nobel Prize in Literature? What do I know? I don’t know. All I know is that the criteria are simple, but tough. You get awarded not for a single work, but for a life’s work. You are expected to come up with something new in terms of content or form or both. And that is how you win the Nobel Prize in Literature.” In short, it’s an easily manipulated set of standards, and we just have to accept that the Academy knows what it’s doing. The problem is, that’s no longer obvious.Carrie V. Mullins makes some good points in her article. Click on the above link to read the entire article.
I would be sorry to see the Nobel Prize in Literature to go away. Its winners have led me to some great authors despite the head scratching way the choices are made. I read an interesting novel about the inside workings of it all, The Prize by Irving Wallace. It was published in 1962, so somewhat dated, but it was eye-opening. My review: https://keepthewisdom.blogspot.com/2015/03/the-prize.htmlReplyDelete
Weird coincidence: In The Pillar of Fire, MLK biography, King is reading The Prize, as he prepared to go to Stockholm and accept the Peace Prize in 1964!
I would be disappointed to see the Nobel Prize in Literature to go away as well. But maybe it needs to change with the times due to the sexual misconduct scandal mishap last year... At least the committee seems to be making those needed changes. :-)Delete
The Prize seems to be an intriguing read, Thanks for sharing that with me.
I like 'the Prize', for tradition's sake, but great many injustices have been committed to great authors through the years, at times because their political beliefs were not trendy enough. Such is the travesty committed against Jorge Luis Borges, the Argentinian poet, who is a luminary of Latin American Literature. His works are erudite and have the wisdom of Greek Classics, yet he never won, arguably because his politics leaned towards the right. The opposite happened to Pablo Neruda, who arguably has only one outstanding collection of poetry, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, whose masterpiece (just 1) is a case study in boredom and self-indulgence. Both leaned towards the left and kept company with some of the most atrocious characters to ever put those ideals into practice. Don't get me wrong, I like their works, and have read them extensively in the past, but I would trade the works of the latter two for just anything JL Borges ever wrote.ReplyDelete
Thank you for sharing your thoughts! I have yet to read anything written by Jorge Luis Borges, but will put him on my reading wishlist. :-)Delete