Tolkien's Nobel Prize Nomination rejected due to 'poor prose'C.S. Lewis Nobel Prize in Literature Prose JRR Tolkien
Posted 05 January 2012 - 08:51 AM
Posted 05 January 2012 - 09:08 AM
Posted 05 January 2012 - 09:20 AM
Posted 05 January 2012 - 09:39 AM
It was a seminal work of fantasy, that would influence the genre for decades, but nobody knew that at the time.
His storytelling is much more of the ancient epic style, where all the major characters are larger than life, the villains are supposed to be huge and powerful but rarely accomplish much or seem to threaten the heroes. Fun to read (YMMV), but not particularly sophisticated or impressive.
His prose is fine, but nothing special, and his verse feels like a weak translation - which may be consistent, but again, isn't impressive.
His greatest achievements were in the creation of the fictional language, worldbuilding, and mythology. Which are irrelevant to the Nobel question.
So it's not surprising that he wouldn't get the Nobel, it would have been devalued if he had.
Posted 05 January 2012 - 10:02 AM
Devalued? Considering that many (perhaps most) writers who ever won Nobel prize are now remembered only by the few, and most of last years wnners also aren't likely to do any better in the future, this statement seems rather ridiculous. Like it or not Tolkien was one of the most influential writers of 20th century (unless you cofine yourself to the narrow limits of literary fiction ghetto, that is ) and is likely to be read for centuries to come. Other nominees for this year, not so much.
Edited by Bastard of Godsgrace, 05 January 2012 - 10:15 AM.
Posted 05 January 2012 - 10:17 AM
They're not remembered for a good reason - the works they produce generally serve only for the onanistic pleasure of a few. Tolkien's work is more accessible, more culturally important than any of his fellow nominees, or the winner. It's not even a contest. I love the nattering about prose here too - it's as if people here are trying to put an objective measure on something completely subjective. Should the prose be clear and succinct at describing a scene, or deliberately abstruse and "beautiful"? Usually the latter, if you want to win one of the literati awards, but then it's a question of what form of inelegantly abstruse will convince your audience of a dozen that you're smarter than the rest of the competition.
I find the Pulitzers are a far, far better measure of quality, generally.
Posted 05 January 2012 - 10:20 AM
On a side note, I think it was sweet that C.S. Lewis nominated him. I thought they'd rather fallen out over Joy.
Edited by dog-days, 05 January 2012 - 10:21 AM.
Posted 05 January 2012 - 10:42 AM
Devalued in the sense that they would have essentially had to change their existing standards to fit him in. I don't think it's that relevant of an award, but it's got (or appears to have had at the time, IDGAF enough to look at recent nominees/wins). Whether you consider what it recognizes to be important or not (I agree with you that it isn't), it still recognizes something and it would have had to change that standard substantially for his work to fit.
Posted 05 January 2012 - 10:47 AM
A Nobel prize for literature is nice for the recipient, but it has little relevance to the public at large.
Edited because of fumbling fingers.
Edited by Tears of Lys, 05 January 2012 - 11:27 AM.
Posted 05 January 2012 - 10:58 AM
Posted 05 January 2012 - 11:00 AM
What's this then?
Posted 05 January 2012 - 11:06 AM
Reading between the lines, also, I get the strong impression that Tolkien didn't care much for Lewis' writing as time went on, and maybe the feeling was reciprocated. Anyway, the friendship suffered for a variety of reasons.
It is heartwarming to know he nominated him, though.
ETA: As I'm thinking back on it, I also seem to recall that Joy's illness caused Lewis to question his faith and that Tolkien took steps to assist his friend in his grief.
Edited by Tears of Lys, 05 January 2012 - 11:09 AM.
Posted 05 January 2012 - 11:09 AM
I wouldn't call Tolkien's prose piss poor, however. Like John Clute once suggested, even the better (or maybe least offensive) Tolkien imatators lacked the "mesmerising melancholia or mythic glamour of Tolkien." I agree, and would take it a step further and say that these same qualities also set Tolkien apart from the quiet-horror-of-daily-life brand of literary fiction, and therefore still mark the author as laudable despite that ulimately his prose may be closer to a popular style than the line by line biting poetics of a Faulkner, for example.
Posted 05 January 2012 - 11:31 AM
Posted 05 January 2012 - 11:38 AM
Posted 05 January 2012 - 11:43 AM
Posted 05 January 2012 - 11:44 AM
After reading that little article my questions are:
How many people were on the Nobel Literature committee in 1961?
Did they all endorse these comments, or are these just the opinions of one person? It seems to me in this article that only one person is quoted. The rest of the committee didn't necessarily have to agree with his evaluations, even if they all did agree that Andric was the best person to give the award to that particular year.