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Nobel Outrage

October 3, 2008


On Tuesday, I read an article about the continentalism evident from the actions and words of the Nobel Prize in Literature selection committee. Really, the word ‘continentalism’ may not exist, but it’s exactly what Horace Engdahl is displaying by saying, “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.” I have been struggling all week to think of way to express my disgust with this comment; lucky for me, Slate.com did it better than I ever could have.

Not only are Engdahl’s comments culturally ignorantly, they’re also patently false. Kirsch’s piece does a nice job of pointing out exactly why the European elites no longer much care for American culture. Having been the global hegemon of commerce and trade for many decades, America has come of age as a culture of art in the last few decades as well. For the most part, American authors who have been awarded the Nobel prize in Literature have been lauded in Europe for portraying the folksy nature of the former colony, but that’s no longer the case. American authors such as Thomas Pynchon, Philip Roth, Joyce Carol Oates, and (of course) Don DeLillo have produced much better work than many of the Nobel Laureates of the recent past, but those at the Swedish Academy cannot seem to accept that.

All this having been said, I don’t believe that any one nation’s literary power is greater than any other. The best attribute of literature is that it can deftly cross cultural borders and bring impossibly diverse groups of people to a better understanding of one another. I happen to be very fond of American literature and I plan to devote my scholarly and professional life to the study of that which I am fond; but I never want to isolate myself from the word of the world.

So Swedish Academy, you can award whomever you want–it doesn’t really matter anyway.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. paul kambulow permalink
    October 4, 2008 7:20 pm

    Many people have it wrong for they do think they have a right to abuse others with their free speech even on the net now too..

    Obama supporters often loudly object to Obama being bashed but not about Palin being bashed.. how hypocritical of them

    when someone aggressively now wants his right to be heard but he also starts to fight with me.. in a clearly unloving manner I do rightfully too merely delete his post too..

    if he persist I do often bring the matters often to others for their attention and action now too..

    I do not have to accept any abuses of any kind.. from anyone now too.. anyone.

  2. Ian permalink
    October 4, 2008 7:53 pm

    Paul, It appears to me that you’re not a native English speaker, and that’s cool with me. It’s fairly difficult to understand your message, but what I’m getting is that I am somehow unfairly attacking Palin somewhere and that I champion Obama to a fault. While I disagree with you assertion, it has absolutely nothing to do with this current post on the Nobel Prize of Literature.

    I would appreciate you not hijacking my blog posts and you keeping your conservative self-righteousness on your own blog.

    Never once have I allowed someone in conversation to speak falsely about Palin, nor have I tried to distort the truth about Obama. That being said, she’s a joke of a politician at this point in her career. It was unwise for McCain to choose to bring her on the national stage this election season. Give her four more years as the head of Alaska and she would have been a very strong contender in the 2012 presidential election.

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