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Nobel judge: U.S. too ignorant to compete

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posted on Oct, 1 2008 @ 09:07 AM
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Bad news for American writers hoping for a Nobel Prize next week: the top member of the award jury believes the United States is too insular and ignorant to compete with Europe

Horace Engdahl said it's no coincidence that most winners are European.

"Of course there is powerful literature in all big cultures, but you can't get away from the fact that Europe still is the center of the literary world ... not the United States


Speaking generally about American literature, however, he said U.S. writers are "too sensitive to trends in their own mass culture," dragging down the quality of their work.

"The U.S. is too isolated, too insular. They don't translate enough and don't really participate in the big dialogue of literature," Engdahl said. "That ignorance is restraining."

edition.cnn.com...




posted on Oct, 1 2008 @ 09:24 AM
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Sadly its mostly true... While I have read some very fine books written here in the United States I am at a loss to name one great book written here in the past 40 years or so... but then I rarely read fiction (besides the local paper) anymore much preferring non-fiction science and history.


sty

posted on Oct, 1 2008 @ 09:25 AM
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wow, i did not knwo that the Americans have literature lol - however they have unmatched Cinema Industry!

[edit on 1-10-2008 by sty]



posted on Oct, 1 2008 @ 09:40 AM
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The Nobel Prize in literature has certain parameters that not many contemporary American authors are going to meet. First, you have to have a kind of "optimistic", humanitarian overtone to your work. Contemporary literature is decidedly cynical from what I can tell. Second, you have to write in a realistic style. Someone like Ursula K. Le Guin, who I think would be a stellar candidate for the award, would get dismissed as a "sci-fi" author.

Philip Roth's name gets batted around sometimes, but he focuses so much on personal neurosis and infidelity, it's hard to imagine him getting it. Perhaps Arthur Miller will get it one day.



posted on Oct, 1 2008 @ 09:46 AM
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I'm not a big "literature" fan... I find it mostly boring. But I am a big Science Fiction fan, and I have to agree with Grover... there is precious little good stuff written in that genre these days, either.

I would sadly have to agree... it seems to be all the rage in the US now to embrace "wilfull ignorance"... there is nothing wrong with ignorance... it is merely the state of not knowing something...

But I am uncomfortable with willful ignorance...



posted on Oct, 1 2008 @ 09:57 AM
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I do not know if US is ignorant or not - to call all 300 million plus ignorant is problematic, as far as i stand. But then to go on and say something like "Europe is the best , US sucks" and call someone else ignorant is ignorant in itself. He thinks Europe literature is better - his right. So he can vote as he likes. But to use his power position to smear some one else is not good.
What about Bradbury, Vonnegut and especially Salinger? I am not familiar with modern ones, but the same with European writers. To write off whole culture with such representatives is the definition of ignorance.
I just want to say that there are of course European/Russian/Chinese/Japanese writers that are extremely talented and are on the same (or higher) level as ones i mentioned above. Simply this attitude of the judge really pissed me off.



posted on Oct, 2 2008 @ 08:37 AM
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When I was finishing up my studies in graphics a few years back I was in a drawing class. I had finished my assignment and was bored. The teacher also taught biology and was grading some papers. I asked if I could look at them and she said yes. Mind you this was in April and near the end of the semester. I was appalled at what I read... the subject was DNA... and not only did some of the students still not understand the subject... other's could not write a coherent sentence if you held a shotgun to their heads... I asked her how she could possibly grade these and she replied that it was extremely difficult.

Later that semester we were given our final assignment in graphic design... it was to write a 20 page paper on the history of printing. On giving the assignment the professor said that he was going to be grading on style as well as subject matter because often the graphic artist is called upon to write copy as well. He then added that there were only two people in this class who could really write... Wayne (me) and Connie ( she is my age, late 40's at the time), he continued and said it wasn't a slur against the rest of the students who were all much younger but a simple matter of fact that about 30 years ago our education system stopped teaching people how to write which is why remedial english, along with remedial math are the consistantly the largest classes in just about any college.

I raised my hand as asked the teacher did the subject have to be a technical history of printing or could it be a cultural history and he replied either... later I was approached by a few students and asked what I meant. Then a few weeks later I was asked why I wasn't up at the library doing research andI replied with over 2000 books in my apartment and most of them on history, the arts and reference I didn't have to... I had more than enough at home to write the paper with. I got an A+... on the paper... the only one in the class to get one. I used to joke that I had a solid B+ average and if I ever opened my books to study I would have an A+ average. I was very popular with the teachers because, and this is important... I was sincerely interested, I paid attention and asked serious questions as opposed to a lot of the kids who did just what they had to and nothing more.

This along with a deep and profound ignorance about science, not to mention the arts and other cultural necessities is severely crippling our nation and it does not surprise me one iota that we as a nation can no longer compete internationally in cultural affairs.

[edit on 2-10-2008 by grover]



posted on Oct, 2 2008 @ 11:05 AM
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Originally posted by Toromos
The Nobel Prize in literature has certain parameters that not many contemporary American authors are going to meet. First, you have to have a kind of "optimistic", humanitarian overtone to your work.



What?


Have you read Elfriede Jelinek?
(If you haven't, but you fancy a spell of a meditative and "blue" mood, I'd recommend a visit to some concentration camp museum instead. At least you won't end up suicidal. ;-))

N.B. I am not laughing at you (nor am I saying that she is a "bad" writer, of course); it's just the thought of her in conjunction of the notion of "optimism" that cracks me up.)

And, sadly, Arthur Miller is no more. He died in 2005, I think. (The same year that Jelinek got her Nobel prize.)

Even more sadly, I think the Nobel prize has been mostly discredited a long time ago, anyway.





[edit on 2-10-2008 by Vanitas]



posted on Oct, 2 2008 @ 11:09 AM
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Wow! That guys ego is just way to big.

He could be in the Macy's Thanksgiving parade as one of the balloon animals with just his inflated opinion of himself.

It just goes to show that even if you're European, you can still be an egocentric idiot.



posted on Oct, 2 2008 @ 11:14 AM
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reply to post by ZeroKnowledge
 


As I understood that statement, he was talking about the state of literature and writers TODAY.

But I agree in that blanket statements like that are in themselves a sign of ignorance.
Which would explain why so many powerful writers have been - and continue being - ignored by the Nobel Prize committee.



posted on Oct, 2 2008 @ 11:35 AM
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The guy that made the statement probably does not represent the views and attitudes of the whole Nobel Prize staff so I won't get too worked up about it.



posted on Oct, 2 2008 @ 12:38 PM
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Originally posted by Vanitas
Have you read Elfriede Jelinek?


No sad to say. My German is pretty rusty. I have to admit I'm a bit out of touch with a lot of contemporary literature, so undoubtedly the parameters I outlined earlier have changed. Since Toni Morrison was the last American to get it (I think), that's the sort of literature that I thought was the main line of consideration for the award.



posted on Oct, 2 2008 @ 02:35 PM
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David McCullough should win a Nobel Prize in Literature. en.wikipedia.org...

Insular. Just by saying that he suggests we are without culture or refinement, that we are incapable of writing generously about the affairs of the world around us; he is himself ignorant of the same provincial attitude that he professes all American writers to be characteristic of.

I don't see why a Nobel laureate can not be awarded for significant works about their own country.

[edit on 2-10-2008 by cognoscente]



posted on Oct, 2 2008 @ 02:39 PM
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reply to post by Toromos
 


I am sure her works are translated; and there is at least one film, "The Pianist" (starring Isabelle Huppert and a terrific Annie Girardot), made after her work.

But, to be perfectly honest, in my strictly personal opinion you haven't missed much.
(And if you ever use razor blades, then definitely stay away from her...
)

BTW, I had forgotten about Toni Morrison's award!
She got it quite recently, so that remark by the pundit makes even less sense.

There is a lot of really, really good literature around.
Do we really need the Nobel Prize committee anyway?


P.S. Seeing your very nice avatar, I am surprised that you put ANY credence in verbal expression...


















[edit on 2-10-2008 by Vanitas]



posted on Oct, 2 2008 @ 05:34 PM
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Originally posted by grover
Sadly its mostly true... While I have read some very fine books written here in the United States I am at a loss to name one great book written here in the past 40 years or so... but then I rarely read fiction (besides the local paper) anymore much preferring non-fiction science and history.


Hmmm. I can name a few off the top of my head that were brilliant works. Michael Crichton is a fantastic author. "Jurassic Park" and "The Lost World" were excellent books.

Timothy Zahn is another great author. He authored the "Heir to Empire" (Thrawn trilogy) series - three books that took place after "Return of the Jedi" and introduced a super intelligent Grand Admiral commanding the remainder of the Empire in a stellar comeback. He's won a Hugo Award for those books.



posted on Oct, 3 2008 @ 10:35 AM
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reply to post by Vanitas
 





As I understood that statement, he was talking about the state of literature and writers TODAY.

Yup. And i left myself a road for escaping by saying i do not know modern ones.
Just in case.
But i simply do not understand how an extremely rich literature tradition can vanish in just two generations , even if indeed giant wave of ignorance swept through USA and drowned a lot of talented writers.



posted on Oct, 3 2008 @ 10:38 AM
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Originally posted by Vanitas
reply to post by Toromos
 


I am sure her works are translated; and there is at least one film, "The Pianist" (starring Isabelle Huppert and a terrific Annie Girardot), made after her work.


Sheesh... That's a pretty dark movie...

Don't see how that fits with "optimistic" etc



posted on Oct, 3 2008 @ 10:40 AM
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Originally posted by sos37
Hmmm. I can name a few off the top of my head that were brilliant works. Michael Crichton is a fantastic author. "Jurassic Park" and "The Lost World" were excellent books.


Are you serious you think they deserve a Noble Prize?


I guess you missed on the principal points in the OP -- literature in the US is too ties to mass culture. I guess you illustrated just that with your post.



posted on Oct, 3 2008 @ 05:18 PM
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reply to post by ZeroKnowledge
 


Right.


And it didn't, of course. (Vanish, I mean. The tradition, I mean. :-)
I had forgotten that Toni Morrisson got the prize just a few years ago - which makes that pundit's statement doubly ignorant...





[edit on 3-10-2008 by Vanitas]



posted on Oct, 4 2008 @ 09:37 AM
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reply to post by sos37
 


Those are good books but they are not great books... they will not last the ages like say the Illiad or the Odyessy have or Ulysses or War and Peace etc. There have been very few great American books but 3 of them are world classics.... Huckleberry Finn, Walden and Moby Dick.




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