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Why hasn't George received a Nobel prize for this work of art?


Falcon2909
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"Ser? My lady?" said Podrick. "Is a broken man an outlaw?" "More or less," Brienne answered. Septon Meribald disagreed. "More less than more. There are many sorts of outlaws, just as there are many sorts of birds. A sand piper and a sea eagle both have wings, but they are not the same. The singers love to sing of good men forced to go outside the law to fight some wicked lord, but most outlaws are more like this ravening Hound than they are the lightning lord. They are evil men, driven by greed, sourced by malice, despising the gods and caring only for themselves. Broken men are more deserving of our pity, though they may be just as dangerous. Almost all are common born, simple folk who had never been more than a mile from the house they were born until the day some lord came around to take them off to war. Poorly shod and poorly clad, they march away beneath his banners, ofttimes with no better arms than a sickle or sharpened hoe, or a maul they made themselves by lashing a stone to a stick with stripes of hide. Brothers march with brothers, fathers with sons, friends with friends. They've heard the songs and stories, and go off with eager hearts, dreaming of the wonders they will see, of the glory and wealth they will win. War seems a fine adventure, greater than the most of them will ever know. "Then they get a taste of battle. For some, that one taste is enough to break them. Others may go on for years, until they lose count of all the battles they have fought in, but even a man who has survived a hundred fights can break on his hundred and first. Brothers watch brothers die, fathers lose their sons, and friends see their friends trying to hold their entrails in after being gutted by an axe. "They see the lord that led them there cut down, and some other lord shouts that they are his now. They take a wound, and when it is still half healed they take another. There is never enough to eat, their shoes fall to pieces from the marching, their clothes are torn and rotting, and half of them are shitting in their breeches from drinking bad water. "If they want new boots or a warmer cloak or maybe a rusted iron half helm, they need to take them from a corpse, and before long they are stealing from the living too, from the smallfolk whose lands they're fighting in, men very like the men they used to be. They slaughter their sheep and steal their chickens, and from there it's just a short step to carrying off their daughters too. And one day they look around and realize all their friends and kin are gone, that they are fighting beside strangers beneath a banner that they hardly recognize. They don't know where they are or how to get back home and the lord they're fighting for does not know their names, yet here he comes, shouting for them to form up, to make a line with their spears and scythes and sharpened hoes, to stand their ground. And the knights come down on them, faceless men clad all in steel, and the iron thunder of their charge seems to fill the world... And the man breaks. He turns and runs, or crawls off afterward over the corpses of the slain, or steals away in the black of night, and he finds someplace to hide. All thought of home is gone by then, and kings and lords and gods mean less to him than a haunch of spoiled meat that will let him live another day, or a skin of bad wine that might drown his fear for a few hours. the broken man lives from day to day, meal to meal, more beast than man. Lady Brienne is not wrong. In times like these, the traveler must beware of broken men, and fear them... but he should pity them as well."

His speech explains how the small folk are affected by war while the high lords play the game of thrones. It is my favourite passage in the entire series, perhaps even literature. This scene of Septon Meribald talking about Broken Men is so beautifully written that even after my 7th re-read it brings a tear to my eye. 

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Plus, the number of fantasy authors who have won is sparingly small. That's not necessarily a bad thing -- just reflective of the taste of the committee, I guess. Off the top of my head even the ones who I would consider more fantastic / speculative (Morrison, Ishiguro) do still lean a little more literary than ASOIAF -- which, IMO, is fine. The books are pulpy and they're better off for it (although I love Morrison and Ishiguro and the literary spec stuff too).

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1 hour ago, Rhan said:

Plus, the number of fantasy authors who have won is sparingly small.

Actually, quite a few laureates also wrote Fantastique (in the sense of the metagenre), but not only, then doing so tending more toward surrealism, allegories/parables - but of course not pulp, that's not what the prize is for (I think hope they learned their lesson about trying to be popular and giving the prize to Bob Dylan, this was really a dark day. If they wanted to give the prize to a singer/songwriter just to show that a lot of popular song lyrics are indeed Lyric poetry,they should have given it to Leonard Cohen or one of the other - compared to Dylan - far superior songwriters).

Out of my head I would like to add to your list: Olga Tokarczuk, Josè Saramago, Elias Canetti, also at least partly any author writing magical realism. Depending how wide or narrow one does define Fantastique, you could find such elements in the oeuvre of almost every laureate.

But you are of course right insofar that the committee really doesn't like giving the prize to genre-authors: They never ever had considered giving it to even the most intellectual, elaborated and philosophical of SciFi-authors, why should they give it to an unfinished pulp-fantasy-series, even although it really is quite a good read. ;)

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The Nobel literature prize has little to do with actual literature. It's just a mix of politics and snobbery. It could be the most discredited prize ever, if not for the existence of the Nobel peace prize.

In any case, GRRM can be content to stand with writers such as Tolstoy, Joyce, Proust, Borges, Ibsen, Chekhov, Zola, Twain, Woolf or Orwell.

 

 

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5 hours ago, Morte said:

Olga Tokarczuk, Josè Saramago, Elias Canetti, also at least partly any author writing magical realism.

Yeah -- as I continued to think about it, I realized there actually are a tremendous number of magical realism authors who have received Nobel prizes. I think I still stand by my argument that that's still fantasy which is often considered literary by what @The hairy bear correctly labels as a committee which has its own fair share of both political bias and cultural snobbery.

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5 hours ago, Rhan said:

I think I still stand by my argument that that's still fantasy which is often considered literary by what @The hairy bear correctly labels as a committee which has its own fair share of both political bias and cultural snobbery.

Yes, of course. They also have their fair share of cowardice (which, combined with the Dylan-stunt, has cost them both Roth and Oz) and unfortunately also like to "subvert expectations" (that's why we did not get the most suitable candidate this year, also not the second or third best - because everybody was expecting Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, so it had to be someone almost nobody was seriously considering... *sigh*).

Beside: We really don't know, whether they really never had considered Borges, Lem, Clarke, Adwood, Silverberg, Tiptree, Gibson etc.pp. for the prize (inconsistency in quality is no criterion for exclusion, as the prize can be given for just one work), it's just they have only one prize per year, while the numbers of suitable authors are a lot higher.

But please don't start to exaggerate pulp-authors into heights there they will suffocate. I know the list above by @The hairy bear was meant to be funny, but it really isn't (for me anymore), as too many genre-fans really do believe their favourite authors belonging there (and I had that discussion a few times too often).

I leave this here, because it still does sum up that problem quite nicely:

https://web.archive.org/web/20130805135731/http://www.revolutionsf.com/article.php?id=953

 

P.S. And while we are at it (comparing GRRM with "giants"), it really would be nice if he had the work ethic of the Magician... :(

   
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I don't think awarding this prize is based on snobbery and politics.  The award goes back over a hundred years and most certainly reflects the intellectual values of their own time periods.  Here is a list giving the reason for the award.  Notice how many of them cite poetics. 

List of Nobel laureates in Literature - Wikipedia

Poetry - Wikipedia

How many of these works have you read to have a qualified opinion about their value as literary works?  I am unfamiliar with most of these authors.  I am reading Sigrid Undset's book Kristin Lavrandatter which won the prize in 1928.  I don't think I'm qualified to judge the value of any of these works without having read them.  

 

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16 hours ago, LynnS said:

I don't think awarding this prize is based on snobbery and politics.  The award goes back over a hundred years and most certainly reflects the intellectual values of their own time periods.  Here is a list giving the reason for the award.  Notice how many of them cite poetics.

Of course their official justification for awarding the prize are going to sound reasonable. But members of the commitee have declared that they want to avoid being "too predictable, too popular" (thus, snobbery), and the permanent secretary of the commitee vetoed Tolstoy because while he admired "his immortal creations", he could not "condone his social and political theories" (thus politics).

There are plenty of other glaring omissions that have been politically motivated. Here's the wikipedia article summarizing some of them.

16 hours ago, LynnS said:

How many of these works have you read to have a qualified opinion about their value as literary works?  I am unfamiliar with most of these authors.  I am reading Sigrid Undset's book Kristin Lavrandatter which won the prize in 1928.  I don't think I'm qualified to judge the value of any of these works without having read them. 

I don't think anyone's claiming that the actual winners are bad writers. The point being made is that many authors that are clearly superior by any reasonable metric are excluded.

If you don't take my word on it (and you are right to do so), see what other more qualified opinions say on the matter:

  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Nobel for Literature): “their judging criteria are unpredictable, contradictory, and impervious to all omens…”
  • Joseph Epstein: “Would the literary world be better off without the Nobel Prize in Literature? Certainly it would be no worse off without the Nobel, for as currently awarded the prize neither sets a true standard for literary production nor raises the prestige of literature itself”

 

 

Edited by The hairy bear
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2 hours ago, The hairy bear said:

Of course their official justification for awarding the prize are going to sound reasonable. But members of the commitee have declared that they want to avoid being "too predictable, too popular" (thus, snobbery), and the permanent secretary of the commitee vetoed Tolstoy because while he admired "his immortal creations", he could not "condone his social and political theories" (thus politics).

There are plenty of other glaring omissions that have been politically motivated. Here's the wikipedia article summarizing some of them.

I don't think anyone's claiming that the actual winners are bad writers. The point being made is that many authors that are clearly superior by any reasonable metric are excluded.

If you don't take my word on it (and you are right to do so), see what other more qualified opinions say on the matter:

  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Nobel for Literature): “their judging criteria are unpredictable, contradictory, and impervious to all omens…”
  • Joseph Epstein: “Would the literary world be better off without the Nobel Prize in Literature? Certainly it would be no worse off without the Nobel, for as currently awarded the prize neither sets a true standard for literary production nor raises the prestige of literature itself”

 

 

I will accept your comment as a more qualified criticism and reasonable argument on the selection criteria and process.  

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3 hours ago, The hairy bear said:

Of course their official justification for awarding the prize are going to sound reasonable. But members of the commitee have declared that they want to avoid being "too predictable, too popular" (thus, snobbery), and the permanent secretary of the commitee vetoed Tolstoy because while he admired "his immortal creations", he could not "condone his social and political theories" (thus politics).

I think there is certain subjectivity in awarding this prize. What you or I might consider a superior selection is based on our own subjective criteria.  Publishing a set of criteria makes the award a competition, subject to further politics.  There is certainly a political context in awarding a prestigious award, especially in the case of Tolstoy with repercussions both to the author and society at large.  

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