The Nobel Prize in Literature discussion

Other Discussions > Who Shouldn't Have Won?

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message 1: by Kris (new)

Kris Kipling (liehtzu) | 136 comments Mod
Starting with Sully Prudhomme there's a lot of opinion on this. But who's read Sully Prudhomme?

message 2: by Leajk (new)

Leajk | 23 comments It's always hard to judge a author without having read their entire catalogue (or at least 2-3 titles) but I wasn't crazy for The Dwarf by Pär Lagerkvist nor The Grass is Singing by Doris Lessing. So judging from those works alone none of them are first class Nobel prize writers to me.

message 3: by Brian (new)

Brian Bird (zangemu) | 2 comments I think that perhaps Par maybe loses something in translation. I think I've read two of his, The Sybil and one other I can't remember the title too. I felt that there were signs of greatness, but they were such simple reads that they reminded me of stories I read in elementary school.

message 4: by Brian (new)

Brian Bird (zangemu) | 2 comments Still have not read any of Lessing's books although I own a couple. I keep finding things I would rather read. I'll probably be doing a lot of reading over Thanksgiving, between the drive to and from St. Louis and the way that the cold weather there really locks up my left side-I will have a ton of downtime.

message 5: by Leajk (new)

Leajk | 23 comments I read Lagerkvist in Swedish (my native language) in highschool and wasn't amazed by the language, but I've might have been too young to get it I suppose.

message 6: by Kris (new)

Kris Kipling (liehtzu) | 136 comments Mod
I must admit to being a third underwhelmed-by-Lagerkvist, though he has his champions. I liked BARABBAS - which was so popular at one time that it was made into a Hollywood epic, and which I don't think has ever gone out of print in the U.S. in sixty-some years - well enough, but I know a fellow who rates it among his very favorite books. Perhaps I should re-read the two I've read (BARABBAS and THE SYBIL), or start the third I have laying around (THE DEATH OF AHASUERUS).

message 7: by Leajk (new)

Leajk | 23 comments I was more than a third underwhelmed but then I've always felt like I should try some of his other works to compare. I'm probably not being fair to him judging him based on one work.

That's really interesting that Barabas is still in print in the US, I didn't think Lagerkvist had that much of an reputation. Do you happen to know about other Swedes such as Selma Lagerlöf or August Stringberg?

message 8: by Kris (new)

Kris Kipling (liehtzu) | 136 comments Mod
I think Strindberg goes in and out of fashion. Dramatists - even American ones - are a very minor market in U.S. publishing, on par with poetry. Lagerlof hasn't been in fashion for quite awhile, though a quick glance over at Amazon shows that several of her works are still available (many of them print-on-demand stuff that you can find on anyway), and GOSTA BERLING'S SAGA has even been reissued in a fresh translation by Penguin.

message 9: by Leajk (new)

Leajk | 23 comments Ah, thank you that's interesting, I think many Swedes like to think that Strindberg is still really relevant internationally, which I'll never understand. He'll just never compare to Ibsen.

message 10: by Frank (new)

Frank (The_Contented_Reader) Gao Xingjian:
What were they thinking?

message 11: by Kris (new)

Kris Kipling (liehtzu) | 136 comments Mod
Um... can you elaborate? Flesh out the comment some?

message 12: by Frank (last edited Jul 29, 2013 07:22AM) (new)

Frank (The_Contented_Reader) Dull, dull, dull. Fault me for not understanding Chinese notions of the novel (true), but IMHO GX can hardly count as literature.

message 13: by Leajk (new)

Leajk | 23 comments I haven't read him yet. Perhaps you should try (if you haven't already) Mo Yan and see if it's purely a cultural context thing or just Gao Xingjian's writing. Or possibly just a bad translation, those things happen.

message 14: by Kris (new)

Kris Kipling (liehtzu) | 136 comments Mod
I actually rather like Gao Xingjian, though admittedly I "got" SOUL MOUNTAIN far less the first time I read it in college than the second time around, when I was, like the narrator, traveling lonesome through remote Chinese villages and towns. Anyway, those available in English: I'd rate SOUL MOUNTAIN something close to a masterpiece, or at least a great book, and ONE MAN'S BIBLE also quite highly. The stories ("BUYING A FISHING ROD FOR GRANDPA") are also very good. Among the Nobel winners I'd count as "shouldn't have won" I'd rate (as many would) Jelinek, based on the one book of hers I've read (or half-read); Toni Morrison (I can barely start a book by Morrison); Dario Fo, who does indeed sound rather "lightweight" based on what I've heard - though I've never read any of the man's work, so cannot really comment; Churchill, who's a politician (though perhaps his histories are worth the reading?); Sinclair Lewis and Pearl Buck; and some of the early early winners no one reads anymore.

message 15: by Leajk (new)

Leajk | 23 comments Hm, I don't get all the hate for Toni Morrison that I see on GR. Sure I didn't love 'Jazz' but 'Sula', was freaking amazing. Could have something to do with the fact that I read the latter with the best English teacher ever, but still...

message 16: by Frank (new)

Frank (The_Contented_Reader) Tony Morrison: The affirmative action NPW.
Dario Fo: who let the freak show barker into the Met?
Jelinek: Never mind the barker. He's brought the freak!

message 17: by Emlen (new)

Emlen | 1 comments I just tried a book by Doris Lessing for the first time (The Cleft), and thought it was awful (put it down after 45 pages). But it was just one that caught my eye at a bookstore, so I'd be willing to give her another try; is there really great Lessing that I'm missing out on.

Also, I haven't read much Toni Morrison, but I thought Beloved was amazing (and I read it with an English teacher I didn't like at all).

message 18: by Leajk (new)

Leajk | 23 comments Emlen wrote: "I just tried a book by Doris Lessing for the first time (The Cleft), and thought it was awful (put it down after 45 pages). But it was just one that caught my eye at a bookstore, so I'd be willing ..."

Yes I was left unimpressed by Doris Lessing as well ('The grass is singing') but I've considered trying her sci-fi just for kicks. And yes I imagine it was mostly Morrison's writing I loved, though I saw more depths than I would've otherwise thanks to my teacher.

message 19: by Frank (new)

Frank (The_Contented_Reader) Our de-selection candidates are all those who have the weightiness, but lack the fluidity.

message 20: by Wolfe (new)

Wolfe Tone | 5 comments I agree with Sinclair Lewis (ok, but not great) and Churchill. Honestly, as a historian, his works aren't even great works of history. This was simply a political thing. And even so, Churchill was a horrible politician, just in the right place at the right time to become a hero. He wasn't.

I did love Jelinek though. It's quite hard to read sometimes, but quite interesting and original as well. I thought her work was refreshing and intelligent.

message 21: by Aubrey (last edited Mar 24, 2014 07:50AM) (new)

Aubrey (Korrick) Morrison, Jelinek, Buck - All well-deserving of the prize.
Lessing - Also her, for 'The Golden Notebook' especially.

I question Kipling.

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