Announced today, the recipient of the 2013 Nobel Prize for Literature is Alice Munro. Not my choice but still a reasonable one (no, Bob Dylan wasn’t my choice). Did you expect a different result?
I made a comment in my earlier post suggesting that the Nobel Prize seemed to pass over too many great names in literature, enough so that one might question the importance of the prize. Several others have expressed similar views. However, if you stop and consider the complexity of the task, it might be better to continue honoring the esteem of the Nobel selections for literature. Why?
This is what ran through my head when considering the granting of the prize:
- Yes, there were instances of non-literary criteria used to eliminate candidates but don’t we all have our own personal criteria to help us sort and sift the complexities of our lives? The Nobel committee must chose between a large number of candidates and not everyone can win. To blanch at politics being inserted into the process is silly … all of life is politics.
- Yes, I can’t believe I never realized the Nobel Prize is only awarded to living people. I feel stupid but once again, that is a requirement for receiving the prize … it’s the rules. True, one suspects that the need for a living photo-op is important but think of the headlines if a dead writer showed up on the dais to accept the award. I’d buy a ticket for that.
- Stop and consider the mathematics of the selection process: How many good or popular writers have there been since the first prize was awarded in 1901? How many years have been available for the awards? See … not everyone can win.
Unfortunately, the prize criteria are not usually considered when people use the award as an indication of the importance of an author. Admit it … you see a writer with a Nobel Prize as being more esteemed than a non-winner. How often do you hear that Johannes Vilhelm Jensen received the award in 1944 but only because it wasn’t awarded during WWII and James Joyce died in 1941?