Sunday, October 13, 2019

Nobel Aliens:Olga and Peter

By so much am I above gods and above men - seiren chruseien ex ouranothen kremasantes: A chain of gold from heaven hang.

       The Nobel Prizes in Literature go to ...  Olga Tokarczuk and Peter Handke 

       The winners of the 2018 and 2019 Nobel Prizes in Literature have now been announced, and they are: Olga Tokarczuk (2018) and Peter Handke (2019). 
       Tokarczuk receives the prize:
for a narrative imagination that with encyclopedic passion represents the crossing of boundaries as a form of life
       Handke receives the prize for
for an influential work that with linguistic ingenuity has explored the periphery and the specificity of human experience
       Handke had long been thought an unlikely choice because of his unpopular attitude during and after the Yugoslavian conflicts -- and this is going to come up a lot in the Nobel Prize-commentary --, but is certainly one of the grand old men of European literature and it's hard to disagree with this selection from a literary point of view. Tokarczuk has been quickly gaining international (well, European and US) recognition for an impressive body of work -- including winning the 2018 Man International Booker Prize for Flights -- and is a choice that will no doubt be widely seen as a solid one. 
       Considering solely their work, these are certainly very strong choices, though with two Central Europeans this is very much in the old mold of the Academy, for better and worse, and it's a bit disappointing that they did not reach beyond that very narrow area. 

       Decent initial overview-articles now up include:
       General commentary about this year's prizes:
       Commentary/coverage about Tokarczuk:
       Commentary/coverage about Handke:
       German-language coverage is, of course extensive; see, for example:
       Publisher mentions:
       Usually some major newspapers and literary magazines collect and open up for view articles about and reviews of Nobel Prize-winning authors, but they've been slow to do that this year. So far it's only:
       For previous general information about Olga Tokarczuk, see, for example:
       There is a great deal more about Peter Handke online -- he's been publishing for over fifty years. His first notable appearance was at the (in)famous Princeton meeting of the Gruppe 47; a recording of his contribution is available at the Princeton German site, while The Goalie's Anxiety offers a translation of Peter Handke’s 1966 Speech at the Princeton Meeting of the Gruppe 47. 
       The Austrian National Library's Handke online site is a valuable (German) resource -- and includes Handke's much commented-on but little reproduced (in full) words at the funeral of Slobodan Milošević in 2006. 
       Handke's stance in the Yugoslavian conflicts have come to dominate commentary on the author in recent years -- beginning with the awarding of the Heinrich Heine Prize to him in 2006, which he then turned down; see the useful overview at of The Peter Handke affair. 
       Recent pieces that discuss Handke at some length do tend to bog down some in the Yugoslavian-question, but some in-depth pieces may be of interest; see, for example:
       Meanwhile, Handke was more recently awarded theInternational Ibsen Award -- and see also Karl Ove Knausgaard's speech on Handke and Singularity. 
       Beyond that, it's certainly worth going back to his fiction (and drama) beyond the narrow political context in which so much of it is now considered. And curious Nobel titbit: Handke has translated two works by another Nobel laureate, Patrick Modiano -- I'm not sure when the last time was this occurred (if ever). (It's great to see an author who has also been such an active translator be Nobel-honored.) 

       No works by Tokarczuk are under review at the complete review, but several Handke works are:
       See also all the Nobel laureates under review at thecomplete review.