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Culture Forum

  1. 12 Oct '12 21:10
    A debate on the other forum about the EU's winning the Nobel Peace Prize inspired me to start the following thread here:

    Which winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature are most and least deserving?

    Which authors should have won who haven't or didn't?
  2. Donation rwingett
    Ming the Merciless
    12 Oct '12 22:02
    Originally posted by Teinosuke
    A debate on the other forum about the EU's winning the Nobel Peace Prize inspired me to start the following thread here:

    Which winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature are most and least deserving?

    Which authors should have won who haven't or didn't?
    Why don't you start us off with one or two nominations.
  3. Donation rwingett
    Ming the Merciless
    13 Oct '12 13:28
    Originally posted by Teinosuke
    A debate on the other forum about the EU's winning the Nobel Peace Prize inspired me to start the following thread here:

    Which winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature are most and least deserving?

    Which authors should have won who haven't or didn't?
    How about Winston Churchill for least deserving (1953)
  4. Donation rwingett
    Ming the Merciless
    13 Oct '12 13:54 / 2 edits
    Authors who should have won but didn't:

    Franz Kafka
    George Orwell
    Milan Kundera
    Chinua Achebe
    James Joyce
  5. Donation rwingett
    Ming the Merciless
    13 Oct '12 14:08
    It might be a better question to ask how many of the Nobel laureates for literature that people have actually read something by. I've got 13 of them on my list:

    Rudyard Kipling
    -The Jungle Book

    Thomas Mann
    -Death in Venice
    -The Magic Mountain

    Bertrand Russell
    -Why I am not a Christian

    Ernest Hemingway
    -Old Man and the Sea
    -For Whom the Bell Tolls

    Albert Camus
    -The Stranger
    -The Fall
    -The Myth of Sisyphus

    John Steinbeck
    -The Pearl

    Jean Paul Sartre
    -Nausea
    -No Exit
    -The Age of Reason

    Samuel Beckett
    -Waiting For Godot
    -Molloy

    Heinrich Böll
    -Billiards at Half Past Nine

    Gabriel Garcia Marquez
    -No One Writes to the Colonel

    William Golding
    -Lord of the Flies
    -The Inheritors

    Naguib Mahfouz
    -Midaq Alley

    Günter Grass
    -Cat and Mouse
  6. Donation rwingett
    Ming the Merciless
    13 Oct '12 14:35
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Nobel_laureates_in_Literature

    For people who don't want to hunt it down, there's the list of all the winners.
  7. Standard member Bosse de Nage
    Zellulärer Automat
    13 Oct '12 18:08
    It's interesting how many have failed to stand the test of time.
  8. Donation rwingett
    Ming the Merciless
    13 Oct '12 19:45
    Originally posted by Bosse de Nage
    It's interesting how many have failed to stand the test of time.
    Rudyard Kipling is the only one among the first 19 that I've even heard of.
  9. Standard member Bosse de Nage
    Zellulärer Automat
    14 Oct '12 06:15
    Originally posted by rwingett
    Rudyard Kipling is the only one among the first 19 that I've even heard of.
    And he's a perennial.

    I've read (at least a bit of) Mommsen, Mistral, Kipling, Maeterlinck, Tagore, Rolland, Hamsun, Yeats, Shaw, Pirandello, Hesse, Gide, Eliot, Faulkner, Hemingway, Camus, Perse, Seferis, Sartre, Beckett, Neruda, White, Montale, Singer, Milosz, Canetti, Marquez, Golding, Soyinka, Brodsky, Paz, Gordimer, Walcott, Heaney, Symborska, Fo, Saramago, Grass, Naipaul, Coetzee, Lessing, Transtromer.

    Rolland is a dud, Hesse, Gide, Marquez, Gordimer, Grass and Coetzee are vastly overrated, while Kipling, Hamsun, Pirandello, Perse, Beckett, White, Montale, Milosz, Canetti and Saramago, for me, stand out head and shoulders above the rest.
  10. Standard member Bosse de Nage
    Zellulärer Automat
    14 Oct '12 06:16
    Originally posted by rwingett
    Authors who should have won but didn't:

    Franz Kafka
    George Orwell
    Milan Kundera
    Chinua Achebe
    James Joyce
    JL Borges
    JG Ballard
    Ursula Le Guin
  11. 14 Oct '12 10:04 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by Bosse de Nage
    JL Borges
    JG Ballard
    Ursula Le Guin
    My nominations for deserving omissions:

    Hjalmar Soderberg (1869-1941): Given the nationality of the judges, it's probable that a few undeserving Scandinavians have won the prize (the 1974 prize raised eyebrows since both recipients were actually on the panel), but Soderberg really should have had it. His dissection of character is second to none and his themes are unerringly modern (Swedish friends of mine also tell me that his century-old prose feels like it could have been written yesterday). I'd have a hard time choosing between Doctor Glas and The Serious Game to list against his citation, but I think the first is the one I'd nominate since it's the braver and more experimental book.

    Jaan Kross (1920-2007): Estonia's greatest writer and a master of historical fiction, a genre he used immaculately both to explore the way people may have lived and thought in the past, and also to comment slyly on Estonia's situation under Soviet rule. The book I'd list for the citation is The Czar's Madman - in part, for the most breathtaking closing sentences I can think of in any postwar novel.

    Both these authors have been well served by their translators. Paul Britten Austin's version of Doctor Glas and Anselm Hollo's of The Czar's Madmen read as gracefully as if they were original English texts.
  12. 14 Oct '12 10:11
    Originally posted by rwingett
    Rudyard Kipling is the only one among the first 19 that I've even heard of.
    You really ought to have heard of Tagore: "the Shakespeare of India", no less.
  13. 14 Oct '12 10:11
    Originally posted by rwingett
    Authors who should have won but didn't:

    Franz Kafka
    George Orwell
    Milan Kundera
    Chinua Achebe
    James Joyce
    Kundera and Achebe are still living and therefore still might!
  14. 14 Oct '12 10:19 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by rwingett
    Authors who should have won but didn't:

    Franz Kafka
    George Orwell
    Milan Kundera
    Chinua Achebe
    James Joyce
    Really obvious omissions in the prize's early decades:

    Tolstoy and Chekhov (apparently overlooked because of Nobel's own anti-Russian sentiments - though he had specifically directed in his will that national considerations should not be taken into account).

    Ibsen (it was awarded instead to his now much less famous competitor Bjornson).

    Henry James (alive till 1916) and Thomas Hardy (alive until 1928); though personally I have reservations about both. I also think that Edith Wharton merited the gong, at least on the strength of The Custom of the Country and The Age of Innocence.
  15. 14 Oct '12 10:25
    Originally posted by Bosse de Nage
    It's interesting how many have failed to stand the test of time.
    Of course, quite a lot of the early winners are less read these days, but that may merely mean that their concerns are unfashionable, rather than they are actually lesser talents.

    There are also a number of authors who have gone out of international repute, but who are still highly esteemed in their native lands: Henryk Sienkiewicz, for instance, is still a name to conjure with in Poland.

    I recently met someone who had set himself the goal of reading one work by each winner of the prize. He said he'd made some quite unexpected discoveries.