I saw something on the AP wire about who might be in line for the Nobel Prize in Literature this year. Italian writer Claudio Magris is favored 3-1 by the British betting agency Ladbrokes. Bob Dylan is listed last at 150-1. Folks cheering for long-time favorite Philip Roth will likely be disappointed, given some of the recent sentiment others have expressed. One Nobel watcher, publisher Svante Weyler, says:
He’s the grand old man in American prose, but I think the academy doesn’t believe he is ‘heavy’ enough,” he told Reuters.
From Street Knowledge Media we read that a Swedish Juror for the prize, permanent secretary Horace Engdahl, publicly stated
“Of course there is powerful literature in all big cultures, but you canít get away from the fact that Europe still is the center of the literary world Ö not the United States,Ē he told The Associated Press in an exclusive interview Tuesday
“The U.S. is too isolated, too insular. They donít translate enough and donít really participate in the big dialogue of literature. That ignorance is restraining.”
Nothing like putting your cards on the table. Unlike Swedish, which is rarely taught, perhaps even in Sweden, English is taught and spoken most everywhere in the world. Other languages, such as Spanish, German, French, and Chinese are also spoken by quite a few folks.
But the thing with English is, lots of folks, everywhere, can read English pretty well. Well enough to read works untranslated. And anyone who is interested in the type of literature that receives the Nobel Prize probably speaks or reads more than one language, except probably in the U.S.
Of course! We’re insular! I forgot about that part. We only think about ourselves, I suppose, and our “ignorance is restraining.” Like the Nobel jurors have any reputation of winnowing the wheat from the chaff over the years.