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Myshkin

Nobel Literature Prize Speculation: Louise Glück

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21 hours ago, Gigei said:

It's a real pity about Ko Un. He has a large body of work that would normally make him a contender for the Nobel but, alas, there are tons of proof that he is a habitual molester. I'm glad he has been exposed.

It sucks when someone who has been loved and respected by so many for so long is revealed to be a complete piece of shit. But no matter how good you are at what you do, you don’t get a pass on shit like this. I too am glad he was exposed and now must live out the rest of his days as a pariah. He deserves it.

From the Nobel standpoint, Ko Un’s exposure might just clear the way for Hwang Sok-yong. Ko was such a towering figure in Korean literature that it was hard for anyone else to get any breathing room. But for my money Hwang is the more deserving of the two, though that’s probably just because I prefer the novel to poetry.

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Louise Glück fits in with those who thought this year's winner was more likely to be a poet, a woman, and a non-European. 

However, she doesn't fit in with prior speculation by being someone who writes in English, and an American. I would say that her name also makes her sound like the most "European" sort of American, as she uses the umlaut over the "u" in her surname, which is very, very rare among German-Americans.  It seems a very odd choice to me for a Jewish-American with a German surname to insist on the German orthography in her surname. I'd love to know her reasoning for why she does it. 

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Louise Glück. How boring. Sorry, she’s probably a wonderful poet, but still a boring choice. I was kinda hoping that moving away from Europe would take the Academy a little farther afield, culturally speaking, than North America. There was a lot of speculation that after all the scandals over the last few years the Academy would go with a “safe” pick this year. But safe doesn’t have to mean bland. Ngugi would be a safe pick. Same with Condé or Can Xue. Also, now we know that Don DeLillo will never win.

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Well one good thing about it being a poet rather than a novelist is that some of her work can be posted here:

Aboriginal Landscapes

By Louise Glück

You’re stepping on your father, my mother said,
and indeed I was standing exactly in the center
of a bed of grass, mown so neatly it could have been
my father’s grave, although there was no stone saying so.
 
You’re stepping on your father, she repeated,
louder this time, which began to be strange to me,
since she was dead herself; even the doctor had admitted it.
 
I moved slightly to the side, to where
my father ended and my mother began.
 
The cemetery was silent. Wind blew through the trees;
I could hear, very faintly, sounds of  weeping several rows away,
and beyond that, a dog wailing. 
 
At length these sounds abated. It crossed my mind
I had no memory of   being driven here,
to what now seemed a cemetery, though it could have been
a cemetery in my mind only; perhaps it was a park, or if not a park,
a garden or bower, perfumed, I now realized, with the scent of roses  
douceur de vivre filling the air, the sweetness of  living,
as the saying goes. At some point,
 
it occurred to me I was alone.
Where had the others gone,
my cousins and sister, Caitlin and Abigail?
 
By now the light was fading. Where was the car
waiting to take us home?
 
I then began seeking for some alternative. I felt
an impatience growing in me, approaching, I would say, anxiety.
Finally, in the distance, I made out a small train,
stopped, it seemed, behind some foliage, the conductor
lingering against a doorframe, smoking a cigarette.
 
Do not forget me, I cried, running now
over many plots, many mothers and fathers 
 
Do not forget me, I cried, when at last I reached him.
Madam, he said, pointing to the tracks,
surely you realize this is the end, the tracks do not go further.
His words were harsh, and yet his eyes were kind;
this encouraged me to press my case harder.
But they go back, I said, and I remarked
their sturdiness, as though they had many such returns ahead of them.
 
You know, he said, our work is difficult: we confront
much sorrow and disappointment.
He gazed at me with increasing frankness.
I was like you once, he added, in love with turbulence.
 
Now I spoke as to an old friend:
What of  you, I said, since he was free to leave,
have you no wish to go home,
to see the city again?
 
This is my home, he said.
The city — the city is where I disappear

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Thanks, that was a great poem.

But probably not completely autobiographical, because "Caitlin and Abigail" are almost surely not the real names of Louise's cousins and sister. Perhaps her granddaughters. 

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6 hours ago, Ormond said:

Louise Glück fits in with those who thought this year's winner was more likely to be a poet, a woman, and a non-European. 

However, she doesn't fit in with prior speculation by being someone who writes in English, and an American. I would say that her name also makes her sound like the most "European" sort of American, as she uses the umlaut over the "u" in her surname, which is very, very rare among German-Americans.  It seems a very odd choice to me for a Jewish-American with a German surname to insist on the German orthography in her surname. I'd love to know her reasoning for why she does it. 

My guess is, Glück (Luck, Good Fortune) is a very nice name. Gluck not so much. Sounds like the overprotective mother hen (proverbial Glucke in German, overmother or something in English), or sorta Onomatopoeia of somebody drinking (or having a drinking problem) gluck-gluck.

Ok, that's partly me being silly. It's more likely they might have been proud of their heritage and didn't want to forget their roots. Note, that Glück's father was already born in the US, so they did not flee from the Nazis.

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35 minutes ago, A Horse Named Stranger said:

My guess is, Glück (Luck, Good Fortune) is a very nice name. Gluck not so much. Sounds like the overprotective mother hen (proverbial Glucke in German, overmother or something in English), or sorta Onomatopoeia of somebody drinking (or having a drinking problem) gluck-gluck.

Ok, that's partly me being silly. It's more likely they might have been proud of their heritage and didn't want to forget their roots. Note, that Glück's father was already born in the US, so they did not flee from the Nazis.

But if they've been in the USA that long is doubly curious. And of course no one who hasn't had instruction is German is going to pronounce Glück properly in the USA -- English doesn't have the sound represented by "ü". 

Until very recently when modern word processing programs became widely available, you didn't see any diacritical marks in books, newspapers, or magazines published in the United States. There are still many places where they just aren't used. For Glück's name to be consistently spelled that way, she must have very actively insisted on it. 

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Regarding the name: probabaly what @A Horse Named Stranger said. Names are important to people; we see it even more recently with more people insisting on their names being spelled and pronounced correctly (this is a thing in South Africa). I'd also insist, whether or not Americans would pronounce it correctly, I'd even go as far as putting the umlaut with a pen/pencil on printouts that didn't have it, when I could.

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34 minutes ago, Ormond said:

But if they've been in the USA that long is doubly curious. And of course no one who hasn't had instruction is German is going to pronounce Glück properly in the USA -- English doesn't have the sound represented by "ü". 

Until very recently when modern word processing programs became widely available, you didn't see any diacritical marks in books, newspapers, or magazines published in the United States. There are still many places where they just aren't used. For Glück's name to be consistently spelled that way, she must have very actively insisted on it. 

How long has the New Yorker been doing it?

Although I confess I had not read her poetry before she was picked, I liked The Wild Iris a great deal.  And my preference was for a poet, and a lyric one at that.  So I'm happy. 

It seems like a truism,  but there are many outstanding writers whose work is Nobel-worthy.  So long as the Academy doesn't give it to a genocide-denier, I'm happy.  

 

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1 hour ago, Gaston de Foix said:

How long has the New Yorker been doing it?

Although I confess I had not read her poetry before she was picked, I liked The Wild Iris a great deal.  And my preference was for a poet, and a lyric one at that.  So I'm happy. 

It seems like a truism,  but there are many outstanding writers whose work is Nobel-worthy.  So long as the Academy doesn't give it to a genocide-denier, I'm happy.  

 

I’m not unhappy with the choice, just kind of underwhelmed by it. This probably is mostly a product of my preference for prose. I’ve read several of Glück’s poems today, and they are indeed beautiful, but I’m just a novel kind of guy. That being said, this is the Academy’s corrective for the Dylan selection, and that bums me out. It means, as I said above, that DeLillo will never win (nor Pynchon, but that was a long shot anyway). 

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1 hour ago, Ormond said:

But if they've been in the USA that long is doubly curious. And of course no one who hasn't had instruction is German is going to pronounce Glück properly in the USA -- English doesn't have the sound represented by "ü". 

I can see her grandparents speaking German at home, and being quite particular about the name, and passing that one to Louise Glück's father. Our name is Glück, not Gluck.  So, I wouldn't find that surprising, if Louise Glück was also kinda particular about it.

Then, with the grandparents (who migrated to the US), I think there's also a fair chance, that their social circle also consisted of German speaking Jews, sharing stories from their old home.

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2 hours ago, A Horse Named Stranger said:

I can see her grandparents speaking German at home, and being quite particular about the name, and passing that one to Louise Glück's father. Our name is Glück, not Gluck.  So, I wouldn't find that surprising, if Louise Glück was also kinda particular about it.

Then, with the grandparents (who migrated to the US), I think there's also a fair chance, that their social circle also consisted of German speaking Jews, sharing stories from their old home.

The above is certainly one possible scenario. I want to emphasize that she of course has the right to ask people to spell her name how she and her family want. I'm just pointing out this was/is a very unusual choice for immigrants of her grandparents' generation, many of whom completely "Americanized" their surnames. Insisting that people in the USA use an umlaut was a very radical choice. 

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17 hours ago, Ormond said:

 would say that her name also makes her sound like the most "European" sort of American, as she uses the umlaut over the "u" in her surname, which is very, very rare among German-Americans.  It seems a very odd choice to me for a Jewish-American with a German surname to insist on the German orthography in her surname. I'd love to know her reasoning for why she does it. 

I am surprised as well. As a German with an umlaut in the last name this was a major pain when I studied for one year in the US in the mid-1990s. In effect, my name was spelled in three different ways on different ID documents (German passport, Student ID, WA state ID, I don't remember if the debit card had a name one it and which spelling...) because some people in the US didn't understand that the next best to "ö" was "oe" and insisted on "o" on the ID document.

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5 hours ago, Jo498 said:

I am surprised as well. As a German with an umlaut in the last name this was a major pain when I studied for one year in the US in the mid-1990s. In effect, my name was spelled in three different ways on different ID documents (German passport, Student ID, WA state ID, I don't remember if the debit card had a name one it and which spelling...) because some people in the US didn't understand that the next best to "ö" was "oe" and insisted on "o" on the ID document.

As a past president of The American Name Society, I was actually consulted by a lawyer a few years ago who had a client from Germany who was having exactly this problem in regard to an American organization that was refusing to accept that spellings of his name with "ö" and "oe" referred to the same person. 

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The ridiculous thing is that the German passport did have both spellings even back then. The one with "ö" was in the main body of the personal information, the other with "oe" in some different section at the bottom. But the person at the office that was responsible for giving out state ID cards in Seattle could not be convinced to use "oe" instead of "o". I tried several minutes but when you realize that you are not gaining ground and are beginning to annoy clerk whose service you need you better give up. Fortunately, I don't recall that it ever caused any major trouble later on although it is annoying to have different spellings on ID documents, bank or credit cards etc.

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22 hours ago, Myshkin said:

I’m not unhappy with the choice, just kind of underwhelmed by it. This probably is mostly a product of my preference for prose. I’ve read several of Glück’s poems today, and they are indeed beautiful, but I’m just a novel kind of guy. That being said, this is the Academy’s corrective for the Dylan selection, and that bums me out. It means, as I said above, that DeLillo will never win (nor Pynchon, but that was a long shot anyway). 

I think this is what irks me about the selection, it does seem that the Academy was trying to correct the error with Dylan. And I say this without trying to take anything away from Glück; but I'd have preferred if she perhaps won it in Dylan's year, and the Academy could have then made its way to rewarding someone on the perennial bridesmaid list. I'm honestly personally tired of constantly hoping Ngugi Wa Thiong'o will bring it home. 

PS: also kind of unhappy an organisations was picked for Peace. Personally not a fan of organisations getting awards and stuff, especially the Peace one.

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