So, here is my deal: I am going to read at least one work by every winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature between August 1st, 2012 and July 31st, 2013. I am doing this because I feel like it. The Nobel Prize is frequently considered the most prestigious award a writer can aspire to, but even from the little I’ve seen, the award is wildly inconsistent. So I’m going to go digging into this award’s history and see what is actually worth reading, and, particularly in the entries before 1950, if what they picked is genuinely better than what they didn’t. I’m also going to read some of August Strindberg’s plays, since he is the only writer to receive the prestigious anti-Nobel prize.
HOW IS THIS GOING TO WORK? Well, like I said, I am going to read at least one “work.” By this, I mean one play, one short story, one collection or cycle of poems, one essay, one novel etc. I will also be reading things that I have never finished. This includes, say, The Sound and the Fury, which I never finished in high school. I read the sparknotes for the last section, to my eternal shame. Once this project is finished, I will continue to post occasional reviews of other books by Nobel laureates and, of course, a similar entry on future laureates
YES, BUT HOW WILL THIS ACTUALLY WORK? Each entry will start with a brief biography and some of my thoughts about the author prior to reading what I’ve picked. I’ll be writing this stuff well before the actual post. Then, after I read whatever it was I said I was going to read, I’ll talk about it. I can’t promise brilliant insight, but I’ll give more than a third grade “and then and then and then and then and then” book report. I’ve got some Ideas (yes, with a capital I) about the twentieth century, and I want to see how they play out in literature.
WHERE ARE YOU GETTING ALL YOUR INFORMATION? Usually, from the Nobel website and Wikipedia. I am a responsible scholar! I’ll also, in the case of physical books I actually own with helpful introductions, I will use those. Richard Pevear wrote a good one for Doctor Zhivago, for instance. But I am not here to help you with your English paper. Do your own damn research! That said, I am not an authority on any of these authors. If one of you lovely readers happens to be, please feel free to advise me. I would love to meet an expert on Henrik Pontoppidan.
WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS? Why not?
BLAH BLAH TRANSLATION THEORY BLAH That is not technically a question, but yes, I’ll be reading an awful lot of translations. I really only know Greek and Latin\. I am also a huge cheapskate, so I will end up with a lot of “dug up on Google Books” translations. In cases where I just can’t trust that the translation is a sound one, I will be complaining about it.