Nobel Prizes

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Nobel Prizes

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1IreneF
Sep 19, 2009, 3:35am

How many prize-winning authors have you read? How many do you even recognize?

Which ones make you scratch your head and wonder why?

Who do you think should have gotten it and didn't? (Remember the prize goes to living authors.)

http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/

2pinkozcat
Sep 19, 2009, 4:06am

I try to avoid any book which has won a literary prize. I have read a few and can't remember one which I enjoyed.

Anyone who would like to read a very satirical novel about the process of selection of prize-winning books should read Carnage on the Committee by Ruth Dudley Edwards.

It is very funny and probably three parts true at that ...

3keristars
Sep 19, 2009, 4:23am

Huh, I've read a lot more of those authors than I'd expected (which was, uhm, one or two) - about 13 out of 85? But I did recognize several others and know something about their works, even if I haven't got around to reading any yet. I've never looked at the list of Nobel winners in literature before, I guess I always expected them to be primarily the kinds of authors that I avoid, like a lot of other literary prizes can be. Then again, nearly every single name that I recognized and have read, it was because of English or French lit classes. Except for Eliot - somehow, I've never had to read anything of his for school, and in my confusion over how that happened, I sought out a greatest-hits type of book. I don't think I've read more than a few bits of one or two poems, though. I should probably remedy that.

My favorites were André Gide, Ernest Hemingway, and José Saramago, though I've only read one book each of Gide's and Saramago's. I think every one of those names has shown up in threads in this group, though :P

Even though I liked it, the book of Saramago's that I read was really confusing. The Tale of the Unknown Island is quite short, but it's apparently an allegory, and even after three or four readings, I couldn't figure it out. It could probably do with getting included as Awful Lit for the confusing factor, though it's not super long or super boring or super horribly written like so many other works listed here.

4andejons
Sep 19, 2009, 4:32am

About ten, I think. And I'm not really wondering over him, per se, but I think it was a bad decision to give it to Heidenstam. I almost couldn't finish what I read of him, but he was very much admired in early 20th century Sweden.

5IreneF
Sep 19, 2009, 5:19am

Neither Mark Twain nor Leo Tolstoy were Nobelists. They died in about 1910, so they were both eligible.

6Rodo
Modifié : Sep 19, 2009, 1:12pm

Umm, a lot, I'm really surprised. But I generally didn't read the works they were awarded the prize for. And most of them I read because I made an effort to read something intelligent or because it was required reading.

My favourite is Wislawa Szymborska, mostly because her German translator does a great job, the only German author I like is Heinrich Böll, I never was much of a fan of Hesse, Grass and Mann (haven't read the others). Pamuk and Oe are okay and I really liked Soyinka.

And I have to admit that I never finished any of Hemingways stories if they were longer than three pages. I tried, though.

7StormRaven
Sep 21, 2009, 1:57am

Thirteen. Does that make me unlucky?

8gautherbelle
Sep 21, 2009, 4:01am

Ce message a été supprimé par son auteur(e).

9hdcclassic
Oct 10, 2009, 9:40am

Ten I have read, several more I recognized (and I will be soonish starting on Kawabata). I guess Böll is my favorite.

The one Sienkiewicz book (Quo Vadis) I have read makes me wonder a bit...I mean, it was nice but there are dozens of books like that.

And the list of people who did not get the prize would go on and on, some of the more obvious are Virginia Woolf, James Joyce and Vladimir Nabokov.
But I kind of like the spirit they have, of picking a bit less-known authors, for big names with large international following it does not bring any new value if they get it or not, but for Mullers and Le Clezios it does.
And lest we forget, Nobel prizes almost always have political undertones.

10jpyvr
Modifié : Avr 12, 2010, 9:51am

Independent People by Halldor Laxness (1955). I finished it, but boy, what a struggle. And talk about depressing!

112wonderY
Mai 2, 2010, 12:22pm

Many of the authors on the list seem to fall into the "Love or Hate them" category.
Two I've tried and couldn't finish - Toni Morrison and William Faulkner.
Of the ten others I've read, I consider 5 of them formative. My Sinclair Lewis period, for example; just out of college, I read his whole shelf.
Same goes for Pearl Buck, Herman Hesse, Rudyard Kipling and John Steinbeck. I still return to Kipling and Steinbeck about once a year.
I read Coetzee's Waiting for the Barbarians just as we were rattling the war drums for Afganistan and Iraq. And he was spot-on. I'm still catching my breath before I try him again.

12Sandydog1
Mai 2, 2010, 8:46pm

Awbutchagottatry Faulkner again!

13zasmine
Nov 16, 2010, 12:35am

I didn't like The Piano Teacher by Elfriede Jelinekand I never finished it.
I also tried reading Soul Mountain by Gao Xingjian and wasn't too pleased.
I also wasn't enjoying Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter, so I left Mario Vargas Llosa at that.
Though I have to add, this happened years ago and I might have a different opinion now. I've read about 20 of them and except for those listed above, I've been pretty pleased with them.
:)

14bergs47
Juil 8, 2011, 8:57am

I am proud to say I have read Gordimer and Coetzee as I am a South African. One must remember that we cannot judge a writer fairly who does not write in English. Interesting that of all the winners in Literature 12 were Jewish.

15Len_Sings
Modifié : Juil 9, 2011, 5:29pm

I have read about 10, but after seeing Tolstoy is not on the list (thanks IreneF) I really do not trust the quality of that list anymore. And there are some people on there whose names I see so often at book markets (I usually buy second-hand) or in book-stores with boring selections, that I don't dare actually reading them.

16thorold
Juil 13, 2011, 10:13am

I'm surprised to see how many of them I have read - about a third - although in many cases I've only read (or, for the dramatists, seen) one of their works. I've heard of most of the others, although there are probably twenty or so where I'd have to look them up to be sure of their nationality and the discipline they worked in. I'm sure there are a few I've only been prompted to read because of the Nobel publicity: Walcott and Saramago, for instance (I'm glad I did, in both cases).

Head-scratchers: obviously, people like Churchill, Sartre, Russell, Fo, who got the literature prize because there isn't a Nobel for war, philosophy, or clowning. I trust Pinter got his for his political interventions rather than his plays: certainly I've had a lot more enjoyment out of his Blair-baiting than I ever did from sitting through The birthday party. Galsworthy, GBS, Golding, Toni Morrison and V.S. Naipaul are all writers I'd class as good but not extraordinary: I don't begrudge them their prizes, but I wouldn't have picked them myself.

2wonderY's category of "formative" is useful - I think I'd put Kipling and Sinclair Lewis in there too, as well as Böll, Grass, Hesse, Eliot and Heaney, Thomas Mann and Patrick White. Laxness would have been formative if I'd heard of him earlier.

Writers who "should have got it" - given that the world is full of writers of genius, most of whom no-one bothers to read, the list could be endless. P.G. Wodehouse and Erich Kästner are the most glaring omissions from the list. :-)

172wonderY
Juil 13, 2011, 11:43am

>12 Sandydog1: A year later, but my response is still "Emphatically NOT!"

18AndreasJ
Août 14, 2011, 2:49pm

I seem to have read eleven (Kipling, Lagerlöf, Hesse, Russell, Churchill, Hemmingway, Steinbeck, Solzhenitsyn, Böll, Grass, and Lessing). I haven't read much of any of them, however, and in most cases that's likely to remain the case.

If I return to any of them anytime soon, it'd be Churchill, whose The River War I've been thinking about getting.

19rybie2
Août 27, 2011, 8:09pm

interesting to me how many of the Novel Prize winners are seldom read today...

20AngelaB86
Août 28, 2011, 11:59am

Golding, Churchill, Eliot, Yeats, and Kipling. There were a few others whose books I have on my shelves, but I didn't even recognize a lot of the authors.

21edrandrew
Sep 11, 2011, 11:51am

More than I'd expected - 10 if you count one that I'm currently half way through. But I have a jaundiced view of Nobel prizes: the science ones tend to be to people who did good work a decade or two ago and the peace ones for war mongers. I wonder what that implies about literature?