by Upstate NY
Wed Oct 1st, 2008 at 09:06:29 AM EST
I figured since we Americans are sending your own globally-tied banking system down the tubes, we might as well duke it out over something else, like, maybe "literary status."
But, you know, we didn't start this fight:
Permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy Horace Engdahl told the Associated Press that US writers were "too sensitive to trends in their own mass culture", which he said dragged down the quality of their work. "The US is too isolated, too insular. They don't translate enough and don't really participate in the big dialogue of literature," Engdahl said. "That ignorance is restraining."
I can't say I've been totally impressed over the years by the awarding of the Nobel in Lit. Neither have some of the winners themselves.
The truth is, if he's looking for representative Americans and all he gets are the likes of Oates and Updike, I can see why he's underwhelmed.
On the other hand, within literary circles, the US does better. I read a lot of European literary theory and belles lettres, and if you go buy citation and references alone, it's easy to detect the American influence on European literature. There has always been a history of cross-pollination, especially in the 1920s with the Americans in Paris. But also with the Surrealist movements, Spatialism, Robbe-Grillet and the New Novelists, Oulipo, the Postmoderns, etc.
We're talking about American Lit. in the 20th century, right? That's what Nobel is judging.
In that time, the USA has had Ernest Hemingway, Henry Miller, TS Eliot, Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, Thomas Pynchon, Don Delillo, Wallace Stevens, EE Cummings, Allen Ginsberg, Black Mountain types like Robert Creeley, John Ashbery, writers like William Faulkner, Kurt Vonnegut, Vladimir Nabokov, Henry James, Robert Coover, Toni Morrison, Paul Auster. Maybe some notable others.
Some of the contemporary writers are very well studied and read in Europe. Not Oates, but others such as Pynchon or Auster.