October 8, 2009

"Will Dylan or Oates get literature Nobel today?"

Oh, how deluded we Americans are! Even to ask that question! The Europeans don't love us, and it's just embarrassing to publicly swoon about their possible love. Bob Dylan isn't going to win the Nobel Prize for Literature:
Before last year's prize announcement, outgoing permanent secretary Horace Engdahl said the United States was too insular and ignorant to challenge Europe as the center of the literary world, setting off an uproar.
Go ahead, Europe. Boost your ego at our expense. It's what you need. It's what we're here for.
However, England struck a different tone, saying that in most language areas "there are authors that really deserve and could get the Nobel Prize and that goes for the United States and the Americas, as well."
Engdahl, England... what difference does it make? Do we care what you think?
The contretemps has made people think there is a better-than-normal chance that an American will receive the prize.

Oates has been called a favorite to win for 25 years.

However, British betting firm Ladbrokes is giving the lowest odds to Israel's Amos Oz and German writer Herta Mueller.
And Herta Mueller it is.
In ... two works, Muller depicts life in a small, German-speaking village and the corruption, intolerance and repression to be found there. The Romanian national press was very critical of these works while, outside of Romania, the German press received them very positively. Because Mueller had publicly criticized the dictatorship in Romania, she was prohibited from publishing in her own country....

The novels Der Fuchs war damals schon der Jaeger (1992), Herztier (1994; The Land of Green Plums, 1996) and Heute war ich mir lieber nicht begegnet (1997; The Appointment, 2001) give, with chiselled details, a portrait of daily life in a stagnated dictatorship.
Well, let's see some sentences. Let's see some lines and passages. Let's see those "chiselled" details.

Meanwhile:
Socialism, hypnotism, patriotism, materialism.
Fools making laws for the breaking of jaws
And the sound of the keys as they clink
But there's no time to think.

25 comments:

Michael Hasenstab said...

Dylan should have won. His work deserves a Nobel.

Der Fuchs? Sounds like a German porn website.

Sheepman said...

American culture is very popular in Europe, if not dominant.

It's the European intellectual and cultural elite that has a problem with American culture. Dylan is an exception, he's very popular among academics in the Humanities. He'll win the Nobel prize if he lives long enough.

MadisonMan said...

I think Bruce Springsteen should win before Dylan.

MadisonMan said...

By the way, I like the lede in the AP story:

Herta Mueller, a member of Romania's ethnic German minority who was persecuted for her critical depictions of life behind the Iron Curtain, won the 2009 Nobel Prize in literature Thursday in an award seen as a nod to the 20th anniversary of communism's collapse.

In other words, it's more related to cultural/political events in Europe than to literature!

Jason (the commenter) said...

They hurt the prestige of the prize by saying bad things about the United States. Who wants to read books that received awards from closed-minded people?

I think picking one person a year is ridiculous. There are so many talented authors out there right now, and none of them should be in need of the Nobel prize money. Pick five people; raise them all in our awareness; give us a list to choose from.

Fred4Pres said...

Oates and Oz are both good (I prefer Oz). I have not read the German who won. Dylan for literature? He is an excellent song writer and arguably poetry writer, but I am not sure he has enough body of work in literature to compete with these other writers.

Gordon Freece said...

Dylan, Oates...?! Oh, not that Oates. Never mind.

AllenS said...

Where's my harmonica? Oh, there it is: ♪ ♫

Joseph said...

There are lots of great American writers. But why on earth should Bob Dylan get a Nobel for literature?

rhhardin said...

Ogden Nash wrote about the dispossed

I give you now Professor Twist
A conscientious scientist
Camped on a tropic riverside,
One day he missed his loving bride.

She had, the guide informed him later
Been eaten by an alligator.
Professor Twist could not but smile
You mean, he said, a crocodile.

Henry said...

Is there a Nobel prize for mumbling?

ricpic said...

Joyce Carol Oates is unreadable. Go ahead. Try it. Not her short stories but one of those hothouse novels she churns out. 300 pages of florid romance novel prose with some gothic thrown in every 50 pages or so. Unendurable tripe.

Ignacio said...

They keep screwing over Ismail Kadare.

former law student said...

Joyce Carol Oates doesn't even make the second string. Paul Theroux's ahead of her.

rcocean said...

The Nobel Prize has always been a joke. Look at the English language writers who've won:

Pearl Buck
Sinclair Lewis
Saul Bellow
Winston Churchill (!)

William said...

Joyce Carol Oates writes faster than I can read. Dylan would be an imaginative choice so it's not going to happen.....V.S. Naipul is the only writer on the list of winners since 1993 that I felt like cheering. The only reason he won is because 9/11 happened that year, and the Nobel panel was willing to join Naipul in thumbing their nose at the Islamic world.

former law student said...

Look at the English language writers who've won:

Pearl Buck
Sinclair Lewis
Saul Bellow
Winston Churchill (!)

The Nobel Prize is for Literature, not fiction. Have you read Churchill's massive histories?

I admit Pearl Buck is kind of a lightweight, but the choice of Lewis and Bellow is sound. You left out Hemingway and Faulkner.

traditionalguy said...

Don't forget John Steinbeck. Leave out Grapes of Wrath that probably attracted the Nobel committee, and his body of work is still a natural wonder of American writing talent second only to Walt Whitman.

Smilin' Jack said...

I'm still pissed that Updike never won. But Dylan's word salad? Srsly? If Dylan ever gets the Nobel for Literature we might as well close up Western Civilization and turn the lights out.

rcocean said...

Those passed over while Buck, Churchill, Bellow, and Lewis won:

F.Scott Fitzgerald
James Joyce
Henry James
James Baldwin
Willa Cather
Dos Passos
Edith Wharton
Jack London
Mark Twain
Conrad
Hardy
Grahame Green
D.H Lawrence
H.G. Wells
George Orwell
E. Waugh
T. Williams
Nabokov
Dylan Thomas
Ezra Pound
E.E Cummings
George Santayana

former law student said...

The only viable candidates out of that list are London, Twain, Conrad, and maybe Orwell. The first three had stiff competition with authors like Sienkiewicz, Kipling, Maeterlinck and Tagore, as well as Hamsun and Yeats. (And then GBS.)

rcocean said...

I forgot to add Tolstoy who could have received the award.

rcocean said...

Sadly, Freud never won for his works of fiction.

sonicfrog said...

Oates is going to win an award? Daryl Hall is going to be pretty ticked about this one. He won't go for that (no can do).

Issob Morocco said...

A rapier like disassemblage of a man who besides being enamored of his own thinking, can dish it but not take it.

Nice job Ann!