Monday, October 6, 2008
Monday News: Perspectives on American Literature - the Nobel debate
The web discussion following the comments on Tuesday by Horace Engdahl, the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, the organization that awards the Nobel Prize in Literature,when he gave an interview to The Associated Press, has been much more enlightening than the comments of themselves. In one blog I read, a comment was made about the irony that a Swede was talking about the Americans being insular, 'Sweden is not even part of NATO.' The lack of historical and political sensitivity behind the remark only served to underline the original statement, in my mind. I pointed out this useful background information, the CRS report for Congress on the position of European neutral countries.
Charles McGrath in the New York Times, writes a wonderfully insightful article, including some perspective on the background to the prize and its history. He also remarks...
"The Swedes read, you have to give them that — they buy more books per capita than the citizens of just about any other country — and they probably care more than anyone else does about their prize. In the United States, a Nobel usually doesn’t produce even the modest uptick in sales that a Pulitzer or a National Book Award does. That fact may underlie Mr. Engdahl’s comments, and especially his observation that we don’t translate enough foreign literature. It’s true. We don’t."
Read the full article here.