October 16, 2007

Why did Doris Lessing say "Oh, Christ" on hearing that she won the Nobel Prize?

I'm a little late with this clip — via Amba and Internet Ronin — but I want to say something about it, so here:

Do you think she said "Oh, Christ" because she's so cool or she's a true artist and above mere worldly prizes or some some such thing? I don't. She was getting out of a cab, looking tired, carrying a bag, which she plopped down on hearing the news. I think she was annoyed that this was going to be the video clip that everyone would watch forever. She'll always have her hair like that, her face like that — however she happened to end up after she'd been dragging herself around town all morning. And now she has to say something, and it better be good, because everyone will quote it. Oh, Christ, I have to go through this whole thing right now.

And it worked out for her. Everyone thinks "Oh, Christ" means so much. It's profound. But, really, it's not as if she could have squealed like an actress winning the Oscar. You don't think she was thrilled, inside?

Or maybe she was kind of pissed, and said "Oh, Christ" in the sense of: So, now, finally they get around to me... after all those second-rate hacks who got the prize all those years when I was ready with my hair done and my makeup on and a nice quote ready to go.


George said...

The mistake she made was seeing the reporters from the taxi and getting out of the car, instead of telling the driver to keep going.

Internet Ronin said...

I read later that she was returning home from visiting her son in the hospital and was a bit frazzled. She says she was caught off-guard because she thought someone was filming an outside location for a movie or commercial, and was, in fact, quite thrilled to receive the award.

Sheepman said...

I think it was said because she's old and this will upset the routine of her life.

Richard Dolan said...

"Oh, Christ." It was just living in the moment, as she was getting sucked into someone else's vortex while looking for a place to stand still.

ricpic said...

Sheepman's comment is quite astute. Age doesn't need trouble, including good trouble.

peter hoh said...

It's worth seeing the longer clip of this. At one point, she cracks a smile and seems rather pleased, despite the untimely fuss that the prize has created.

Al Green said...

You know nothing about Doris Lessing if you think she would be worried about how her hair looks! That's you, Althouse. Lessing doesn't dye her hair and she's certainly not like some self-absorbed blogger who spends far too much time trying to portray herself as hip and young. So speak for yourself "blondie" and leave this accomplished old woman who is quite comfortable with her actual appearance alone!

blogging cockroach said...

she could have said 'oh crap'
but thank god she didn't.

rhhardin said...

It's most likely a ``what now'' moment.

It's possible not to care about the Nobel.

It's certainly possible not to care about team improvement awards when you get them at work, even if it means money.

Why? Management is make up of known morons.

It's the same with Norwegians.

Internet Ronin said...

Well Al, Ann may or may not know nothing about Doris Lessing, but what is beyond dispute is that you left whatever sliver of a sense of humor behind you when you checked in here.

Christy said...

You are 88 years old, you have been shortlisted for 40 years and the commitee let you know long ago they didn't like you. You've given up hope of getting it. You are returning exhausted from a hospital visit and you get ambushed by reporters.

I think her response is funny as all get out.

ZZMike said...

The moral here (there's always a moral) is: Always be prepared with a good quote for the day when someone tells you you've just won the Nobel Prize (for anything - except perhaps the Peace Prize, in which case, if Ms Lessing had been the winner, her quote would have been prefectly understandable).

Why do we never hear what people have to say when they win the MacArthur Prize? (One of this year's surprising winners is Tennessee singer Dawn Upshaw.)

Paddy O. said...

I'm sure it was disappointment about it being the Nobel prize instead of an Oprah Book Club selection.

matthew said...

I like to go out dancing
My baby loves a bunch of authors
Lately we've had some friction
'Cause my baby's hooked on short works of fiction

So we split and went to a party, some friends my girl said she knew
But what a sight 'cause it's authors night and the place looks like a who's who
Now I'm poundin' the Ouzo - with Mario Puzo
Who's a funny fella? - W.P. Kinsella
Who brought the cat? - would Margaret Atwood?
Who needs a shave? - he's Robertson Davies!
Ondartje started a food fight, salmon mousse all over the scene
Spilled some dressing on Doris Lessing these writer types are a scream!

I like to go out dancing
My baby loves a bunch of authors
We'll be together for ages
Eatin' and sleepin' and turnin' pages

-Fruvuos Moxy.

I heard this on the radio today. Possibly the only song that refers to Doris Lessing by name. Well, that is before she won the Nobel prize. Now she's going to become much more popular in popular music.

amba said...

It's very funny that that was her first reaction. It's sort of the last word. But, as IR notes, she was coming from visiting her son in the hospital. Whatever that was, it tends to put stuff like Nobel Prizes in perspective. She's old enough to have a pretty old, perhaps quite sick, son. Let's hope not.

Chip Ahoy said...

It's like Susan Lucci except way more serious and a lot more dragged out.

She said, "Oh, Christ." because she was disgusted with the way the reporter pronounced the word "Nobel" as no bile. Dummkopf.

She's reported to have been delighted saying, "Now I have all the awards in Europe -- a royal flush."

bearing said...

That's Moxy Früvous, Matthew.

Gedaliya said...

Chris Hitchens on Doris Lessing. An excerpt:

It's as though the long, dreary reign of the forgettable and the mediocre and the sinister had been just for once punctuated by a bright flash of talent. And a flash of 88-year-old talent at that, as if the Scandinavians had guiltily remembered that they let Nabokov and Borges die (yes, die) while they doled out so many of their awards to time-servers and second-raters.

And another:

I was touched and interested to see Doris Lessing photographed last week, outside the same row house in the rather rough and plebeian district of North London where she has lived for so many decades. Having been an avenging angel of sexuality in her youth, she doesn't mind in the least looking a bit like a bag lady or a cat collector as she approaches her 90th year.

Ann Althouse said...

How the hell does he know she doesn't mind?

Gedaliya said...

LOL. That's a very good question.

Torn ligament said...

'How the hell does he know she doesn't mind?'

Probably because she's looked like she has for the past 30 years. It is however, not a rough neighbourhood though he's correct about the cats.

Torn ligament said...

She was coming back from the shops not from visiting anyone in hospital.

I think she likely responded the way she did because she knew there'd be a bit of a fuss made of her in the next few days.

Revenant said...

So speak for yourself "blondie" and leave this accomplished old woman who is quite comfortable with her actual appearance alone!

Why look unattractive if you don't have to and don't want to?