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Arts and Culture

Vive Le Clézio!

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Posted on Oct 9, 2008
Le Clezio
AP photo / Michel Euler

Le lauréat: Nobel Prize winner Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio.

French novelist Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio was named this year’s winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature on Thursday. Le Clézio, whom the Swedish Academy fancifully described as an “author of new departures, poetic adventure and sensual ecstasy, explorer of a humanity beyond and below the reigning civilisation,” has written more than 20 novels since the early age of 23.


AFP:

Asked at a press conference in Paris if he had any message for the world, Le Clezio said it would be to “keep asking yourself questions” and “to continue reading novels” because this was a good way to come to terms with the world.

“The novelist is not a philosopher, he is not a language technician, he is someone who writes, who asks himself questions,” said Le Clezio, adding that he “does not belong to any literary trend.

“I write because I love writing,” he said.

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By nrobi, October 17, 2008 at 9:25 am Link to this comment

Re: Mendez, and what does a westerner write like? and How do you make the distinction and how did you gain the knowledge of Western Literature that you say you have?
Mendez, you betray yourself, in the fact that your hatred and disdain for “Western Literature,” is showing through loud and clear.
I am amazed that you can put two ideas together and the way that you write gives me pause to thank G-d, that I am an American by birth and have life experience that you will never match.
Should you someday be in the vicinity of Dubois, Pa, I would gladly like to debate you in person and shake the very foundations of your knowledge tree to the core.
Given the obvious lack of training in “Western Literature,”  you sir, make my point more than clear that the Classics are being neglected to the detriment of society and that more “critical thinking skills,” should be taught in the school systems of America.

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By mendez, October 16, 2008 at 8:00 am Link to this comment

Nrobi, you say,

“I have written poetry and won awards for both photography and poetry. Prose on the other hand is not my forte” 

In spite of your admittance that prose is not your thing, you expect others to accept your take on literature, even though you won’t provide any collateral?  Plus, you don’t write like any Westerner so why don’t you explain yourself.

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By nrobi, October 15, 2008 at 11:05 am Link to this comment

Sir, you certainly have earned the ad hominem attack on yourself as you have plainly labeled me as a loser.
While in some aspects I have lost, sir, I have not lost my sensibilities and judgment regarding literature and prose. Although you seem to have some adroit skills, you sir lacking in the most basic of knowledge regarding American Literature and it proponents. 
Might I say sir, the very idea of you being able to pronounce judgment on a person such as myself, is quite inane, as you have shown your true colours in stating that there are no American writers in their prime and that you doubt that American writers exist to please you insensible and quite ridiculous palate.
It pleases me to no end that you have pronounced me a loser, as I have written poetry and won awards for both photography and poetry.  Prose on the other hand is not my forte and without doubt you do lack the skills yourself as a poster on this website to write prose worth reading.
Given your attacks on my person without knowing me, you have shown that your ideological and illogical judgments are unfounded and without merit.
All these facts together, make sir, for a proponent of the worst kind, one who lacks knowledge and civility. Sir, and I use the term loosely, I shall retreat from this inane conversation for it boors me to no end, to explain myself to one such as yourself.

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By mendez, October 15, 2008 at 10:18 am Link to this comment

Well, you have gone and done it haven’t you?  Shame on you for using the ad hominem attack when it was not earned, or deserved.  Since you have exposed your entire self, I doubt your androgynous formatting allows you to actually indulge the audience in your lit pick of the year?

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By nrobi, October 14, 2008 at 6:51 pm Link to this comment

Mendez, far be it from me to disparage another poster for Truthdig, but yes there are many writers of the English Language in America.
Among others is one Neal Stephenson, a science fiction writer, who, without fanfare from the Nobel Committee writes prose the likes of which Mr. LeClezio could not write for he does not see the real world and, Mr. Stephenson comments on the future of society not the recent or distant past.
Much to the chagrin of your esteemed Nobel Committee, there are many more writers who work in the English language in America, besides Mr. Stephenson.
I take personal umbrage at the remarks you have so blithely written about American authors and myself.
You are without doubt one of the most snobbish and boorish posters on this website.
Hopefully you will make an effort to read more American authors in the future and not close your tiny little mind to the fact that American authors are more than worthy of the Nobel Committee’s prize for Literature.

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By mendez, October 14, 2008 at 10:05 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Why would you take what I wrote out of context when it was right in front of you?  I said no great writers in their prime, are you not able to read compound sentences?

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By nrobi, October 14, 2008 at 9:49 am Link to this comment

Mendez, sorry to say but there are great writers in the English language today! Maybe not in the genres that are acceptable to the Nobel Committee but I can think on many that have surpassed the latest Nobel Laureate for their themes. Consider Ray Bradbury, E.E. (Doc) Smith, Cordwainer Smith,aka Dr. Paul Myron Anthony Linebarger, who wrote the most fantastic and wonderful stories regarding the state of mankind and the future of animals and mankind in a much different world than we know today.
Mendez, you show by proclaiming French a language that is the heart and soul of writing, your pomposity and prevarication of what you purport as knowledge.
For although French is a language that is purposefully packed with love, no language can match English for the metaphorical and whimsical writing that has ensued because of writers from America.
In short, sir, you are the most pompous and snobbish person I have heard regarding writing in a long time.

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By mendez, October 12, 2008 at 2:27 pm Link to this comment

French is important because without the mood great French writers provide everything sounds like Micky Spillane today.  There are no great American writers in their prime today, though I’m sure some are lurking under print.  To be able to understand another language and read its literature is a great gift.

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By thebeerdoctor, October 12, 2008 at 3:24 am Link to this comment

re: Brian Barker

When you consider that a play like Arthur Miller’s Death Of A Salesman has been translated and performed in China, the temper tantrum over language becomes meaningless. I’ve experienced high and mighty folks who informed me that I would never understand Proust unless I read him in the original French… never mind that the late Shelby Foote read Marcel’s opus several times over, in translation.
Or consider the Nobel laureate Samuel Beckett, who wrote his later works in his adopted tongue of France, only to translate their black Irish humor, back into English himself.

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By Brian Barker, October 11, 2008 at 8:17 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The fact that a French-man won the Nobel Prize for Literature will certainly annoy the anglophiles. After all, everyone now accepts that English is the international language.

I apologise for the satire, but speak as a native English speaker. Then, if English is unacceptable, on grounds of linguistic imperialism, what about Esperanto?
Yes Esperanto was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for Literature, in the name of Icelandic poet Baldur Ragnarrson.

This is true. Esperanto does have its own original literature. Please check http://www.esperanto.net to confirm.

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By thebeerdoctor, October 10, 2008 at 9:04 am Link to this comment

Tomi Morrison, Saul Bellow, John Steinbeck, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Pear Buck, Eugene O’Neill, Sinclair Lewis… so the Nobel is against American literature?
As for Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio, I have never read anything by him. Thankfully, the library has translated copies of several of his works, which I can order to find out what his writing is concerned about.

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By nrobi, October 10, 2008 at 8:59 am Link to this comment

In response to the commenters that have followed my response: the higher ideals that are supposedly objectified by the Nobel Prize, Mr. Engdahl, lowered the standards, by denying that American writers are at least as good as any of the writers that have been chosen in the last 15 years.
The writers chosen in the last 15 years, none on them have I heard of, at least within American writing there are certain writers that make a difference in the world around them. Higher ideals are written about and discussed by American writers, yet in all of this Mr. Engdahl, has the temerity to disparage and degrade the writers of America.
How dare he be so self-centered and “euro-centric,” that he not consider the writers of America?
As stated before, my opinion of the Nobel Committee has certainly been downgraded by the comments of Mr. Engdahl. If there was at least one voice on the Nobel Prize Committee, that had the balls to speak out against those remarks then I would have some respect for them. Yet in all of this not one of the other members of the Nobel Committee have made even a hint of a comment regarding the remarks made by Mr. Engdahl.
Sadly, the Nobel Committee is silent regarding those comments, which are clearly intended to disparage the writers and people of America. Higher Ideals, Bullshit! If the Nobel Committee was committed to the purpose and reason of the Nobel legacy, then there would be no question that Mr. Engdahl would be tossed off the committee and replaced by someone less rigid and dogmatic regarding the writers of America. This is not the case though, so I will be disregarding the Nobel Prizes with much more zeal and speaking out against them for reasons already stated and for the simple fact that there is an anti-American bias on the Nobel Committee.

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By troublesum, October 10, 2008 at 5:38 am Link to this comment

What can be said about American lierature?  2500 years after Ecclesiastes, Phillip Roth is telling us that we’re all going to die.

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By ABB, October 9, 2008 at 11:23 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

So much of this discussion has centred on comments of Engdahl criticizing American writers - whereas in fact, they addressed American writing solely in relation to winning the Nobel prize. It is a fine but important difference, which I feel can help gain to avoid a misinterpretation of his statements. There is a major difference between the Nobel and other prizes which awarded solely for excellence, such as the Man Booker or Pulitzer, other than geographical limitations. It is to award writing not only of excellence, but in achieving higher ideals. Those ideals and values behind them are subjective, often affected by politics. The Nobel Prize has never claimed otherwise.

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By nrobi, October 9, 2008 at 6:35 pm Link to this comment

As is now obvious, the Nobel Committee has an avid and awkward disdain and dislike for American Literature.
Quoting the AFP story, (Agencee France Press), “the permanent sectary of the Nobel Committee, Horace Engdahl criticized American writers for being too influenced by our own popular culture.”
How is the fact that American writers being too influenced by our own popular culture an ignominious and potential problem for our writers?
Clearly, the Nobel Committee, has an anti-American bias for something other than the influence of popular culture on American writers. Of course, we cannot read minds, but the statement out of the mouth of the permanent secretary of the Nobel Committee, plainly puts into focus the fact that American writers are not “fit” for the purpose of writing.
I personally take umbrage with this person, he is without doubt, the most arrogant and egregious example of “european superiority,” and the way that he speaks of American writers is reminiscent of the way that “european painters,” thought of American painters in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.
The disdain showed by the Nobel Committee, for American writers should surely disqualify the Nobel Laureate for Literature as an outstanding example of global writing.
Mr. Engdahl you can shove the Nobel Laureate for Literature up your posterior, for you are and I, state without equivocation the “euro-bastard,” of the highest degree.
I used to look up to the Nobel Committee for the outstanding work that it did, and the fact that politics did not play a role in the decisions of the committee in awarding prizes. Yet now, it seems that the political culture of Sweden, has crept into the Nobel Committee, and for the worse has infected it with an anti-American bias which will only be relieved by the removal of the Nobel Committee from Sweden and giving it to an impartial and politically free country with no axe to grind.
Surely Alfred Nobel, did not intend for the committee to become a soapbox for the political will of the Swedish people. Yet this comment lessens the importance of the Nobel Committee’s influence on the world stage.
I, for one, will now assiduously avoid the Nobel Committee’s awards and not follow their lead in reading any of the Nobel Laureate’s for literature.

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