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Old Yesterday, 12:38 PM   #31
DiapDealer
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As long as there have been awards, there have been those who sought to tear down the winners (and those who nominated/selected them). But I don't believe those who choose to do so have gained any more popularity or credibility. They're just a bit noisier now that they have more of a platform to shout from.
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Old Yesterday, 12:38 PM   #32
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For me (and many, many others) the premise has always been questionable, and there are several good arguments why the award should be changed in some way. To begin with, an international award shouldn't really be stewarded by a national Academy of Arts. Things like science are also questionable, but less so, since the scientific community has firmer standards to fall back to. The real question for me is why have we allowed an essentially national book award with international ambitions to gain international acclaim? Is it just the appeal of a cash award to great authors?

The "committee approach" the Academy has adopted enables bickering and delaying awards to certain authors, which resulted in the flippant dismissal of some of the universally recognised greatest writers of their generation (Tolstoy, Gorky, Borges, Roth, to name a few), in favour of "compromise candidates", as if the fact one was nominated (the records of which being sealed for more than half a century) is somehow the same as receiving the award itself. All the while many insignificant authors have in fact received it (Prudhomme, anyone?) - far too many Nordic writers of minute global significance among them, which have been given this international award because of local lobbying and national sentiments. Far from being an expression of "critical consensus" the laureates are an amalgam of political and local bartering. "Lofty idealism" indeed.

The Academy, knowing the public is aware of this, periodically engages in attempts of emblematic PR ventures, such as the recent Bob Dylan escapade. I'm a greater fan of Dylan than Roth, but there is no doubt that the award - and literature - would have been better served by honouring one of the last giants of a dying breed of authors. This latest double award is also a balancing act. Handke is no Grass, but is representative of a kind of intellectual highbrow literature many appreciate and feel is under siege. Regardless of the merits of that argument, I've never been able to get into his writing, though he is revered in some circles in Serbia, for reasons better left unmentioned.

The fact that the circumstance of a double award was exploited, I think is self-evident. I secretly believe that Handke was smuggled in, so to speak, by the conservative committee hardliners, in exchange for allowing another token "activist literature" candidate. (This is by no means a reflection on, or dismissal of, Ms Tokarczuk's body work, which I'm unfamiliar with. If anything, it is a dismissal of the committee's body of work.) Had the awards been given in proper sequence and usual form, I think neither Ms Tokarczuk nor Handke would have won. After all, had they not given it to Dylan and Ishiguro beforehand? Quite enough for at least a couple years of choice local candidates.

As far as more representative awards go - how about the Man Booker, or one of the many Pen centre awards?
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Old Yesterday, 01:11 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by Alanon View Post
For me (and many, many others) the premise has always been questionable, and there are several good arguments why the award should be changed in some way. To begin with, an international award shouldn't really be stewarded by a national Academy of Arts. Things like science are also questionable, but less so, since the scientific community has firmer standards to fall back to. The real question for me is why have we allowed an essentially national book award with international ambitions to gain international acclaim? Is it just the appeal of a cash award to great authors?

The "committee approach" the Academy has adopted enables bickering and delaying awards to certain authors, which resulted in the flippant dismissal of some of the universally recognised greatest writers of their generation (Tolstoy, Gorky, Borges, Roth, to name a few), in favour of "compromise candidates", as if the fact one was nominated (the records of which being sealed for more than half a century) is somehow the same as receiving the award itself. All the while many insignificant authors have in fact received it (Prudhomme, anyone?) - far too many Nordic writers of minute global significance among them, which have been given this international award because of local lobbying and national sentiments. Far from being an expression of "critical consensus" the laureates are an amalgam of political and local bartering. "Lofty idealism" indeed.

The Academy, knowing the public is aware of this, periodically engages in attempts of emblematic PR ventures, such as the recent Bob Dylan escapade. I'm a greater fan of Dylan than Roth, but there is no doubt that the award - and literature - would have been better served by honouring one of the last giants of a dying breed of authors. This latest double award is also a balancing act. Handke is no Grass, but is representative of a kind of intellectual highbrow literature many appreciate and feel is under siege. Regardless of the merits of that argument, I've never been able to get into his writing, though he is revered in some circles in Serbia, for reasons better left unmentioned.

The fact that the circumstance of a double award was exploited, I think is self-evident. I secretly believe that Handke was smuggled in, so to speak, by the conservative committee hardliners, in exchange for allowing another token "activist literature" candidate. (This is by no means a reflection on, or dismissal of, Ms Tokarczuk's body work, which I'm unfamiliar with. If anything, it is a dismissal of the committee's body of work.) Had the awards been given in proper sequence and usual form, I think neither Ms Tokarczuk nor Handke would have won. After all, had they not given it to Dylan and Ishiguro beforehand? Quite enough for at least a couple years of choice local candidates.

As far as more representative awards go - how about the Man Booker, or one of the many Pen centre awards?
In general, I agree that literature awards would be better served staying national. So much of good literature depends on context and frame of reference.

It really kind of depends on what the award is suppose to represent and what it's suppose to achieve. In general, I tend to think of it as a "this is what a read read person should have read", but in reality, it does seem to be more of a popularity contest, a clique thing or even a "art" thing. [from the stand point of if the average person might actually like it, it can't be art]
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Old Yesterday, 02:23 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by pwalker8 View Post
In general, I agree that literature awards would be better served staying national. So much of good literature depends on context and frame of reference.

It really kind of depends on what the award is suppose to represent and what it's suppose to achieve. In general, I tend to think of it as a "this is what a read read person should have read", but in reality, it does seem to be more of a popularity contest, a clique thing or even a "art" thing. [from the stand point of if the average person might actually like it, it can't be art]
Precisely. The original reasoning for giving the decision-making process of the Nobel prize over to the Academy was due to lingering XIX-century optimism of the ability of great institutions to transcend vagaries of public opinion, and the limits of particular cultures, towards a pan-European ideal. I think it can be read from Nobel's own summaries of what each award was supposed to signify, which was later expanded to encompass the West, and only later on the European east, far east and today - the globe. However, in order to be able to adjudicate what a well-read person is supposed to know, you first have to have an underlying vision of culture that such a person helps define.

It's within that context that national awards should be able to provide more coherent criteria (but they do not always succeed in doing so). The Nobel was, in essence, a cosmopolitan effort, mistakenly given over to folks that simply weren't cosmopolitan enough, as the record has shown. Instead, they focused their energies on balancing national sentiments with great literature, and great literature (at least from this distance) has not always prevailed. It may be that many of their selections will live on as cornerstones of culture and civilisation, but as it stands now, I feel they were half-right at best, which is really no better than what "ordinary" conscientious book lovers would have come up with.
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Old Yesterday, 09:18 PM   #35
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You know when you chop out a section of a post, you can totally change how it reads. The rest of the quote was " I can remember them giving it to Bob Dylan a few years ago and he skipped the presentation ceremonies. "

So I was giving two different points on why I thought that maybe the Nobel prize wasn't the most important event in literature.

You asked "Why do you feel that prizes exist for no other reason than to create extra sales? " which is not even remotely what I said. I gave two reasons why it might not be the most important event in the literary world, I never said nor implied that the only reason a prize exists is to create extra sales.
I avoided the opinion part purely on purpose. Only because you think that Bob Dylan got the award undeservedly, does not make the Nobel Prize any different. You did however put a strong correlation between the importance of a prize and resulting increased sales. If you did not imply that increased sales afterwards are a very important measure stick on how important a prize is, then why mention it at all?
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