Posts Tagged ‘Nobel prize in literature 2007’

The requirements for writing and writers

December 8, 2007

From the Nobel lecture of Doris Lessing:

Writing, writers, do not come out of houses without books.

There is the gap. There is the difficulty.

I have been looking at the speeches by some of your recent prizewinners. Take the magnificent Pamuk. He said his father had 1 500 books. His talent did not come out of the air, he was connected with the great tradition.

Take V.S. Naipaul. He mentions that the Indian Vedas were close behind the memory of his family. His father encouraged him to write. And when he got to England by right he used the British Library. So he was close to the great tradition.

Let us take John Coetzee. He was not only close to the great tradition, he was the tradition: he taught literature in Cape Town. And how sorry I am that I was never in one of his classes: taught by that wonderfully brave bold mind.

In order to write, in order to make literature, there must be a close connection with libraries, books, the Tradition.

Writers are often asked, How do you write? With a processor? an electric typewriter? a quill? longhand? But the essential question is, “Have you found a space, that empty space, which should surround you when you write? Into that space, which is like a form of listening, of attention, will come the words, the words your characters will speak, ideas – inspiration.

If this writer cannot find this space, then poems and stories may be stillborn.

When writers talk to each other, what they ask each other is always to do with this space, this other time. “Have you found it? Are you holding it fast?”

Take a look!

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A love letter prompted by Nobel 2007

October 12, 2007

The Literature Nobel 2007 to Doris Lessing sets Jenny in the  path of writing a love letter to one of the libraries of her childhood. In the process, Jenny also tells her favourite Lessing novel, and how her novels might resonate better with serious and eager teenage readers. The piece, peppered with information about the teacher who sent Jenny in the path of reading, her teenage reading habits, her current reading habits, and the books that influenced her reading, is one of the must-read posts (and, also a great (if personal) response to the Nobel announcement that I have seen so far).

Nobel prize in literature 2007

October 11, 2007

Goes to Doris Lessing, who is,

that epicist of the female experience, who with scepticism, fire and visionary power has subjected a divided civilisation to scrutiny.

NPR has a nice piece on Lessing, where it calls the decision stunning:

The Swedish academy’s announcement was stunning even by the standards of Nobel judges, who have been known for such surprises as Austria’s Elfriede Jelinek and Italy’s Dario Fo.

Maud Newton links to a recent interview with her in Boston Globe, where the interviewer does mention Nobel prize:

For her devoted fan base, Lessing is unquestionably the greatest living writer never to win a Nobel Prize.

Tune in for update on the reactions!

Update 1: Reactions of Ms. Lessing:

Ms. Lessing learned the news from a group of reporters camped on her doorstep as she returned home from visiting her son in the hospital. She declared herself totally surprised.

“I had forgotten about it, actually,” she said. “My name has been on the short list for such a long time.”

On second thought, she said, perhaps she was not entirely surprised, because “this has been going on for something like 40 years,” a reference to the many years when she had been named as a potential honoree. “You can’t go on getting excited every year about this,” she said. “There are limits to getting excited finally.”

Short, stout and a bit hard of hearing, Ms. Lessing was sharp and straightforward in her comments. After a few moments, she excused herself and went inside.

“Now, I’m going to go in to answer my telephone,” she said. “I swear I’m going upstairs to find some suitable sentences which I will be using from now on.”

Update 2: Ms. Lessing did find some suitable sentences:

Her quote today, in the Guardian, was priceless: “I’ve won all the prizes in Europe, every bloody one. I’m delighted to win them all, the whole lot. It’s a royal flush.”

Update 3: Complete Review is doing a wonderful job of collecting the Nobel prize related stories (so, I don’t have to keep updating this post any more); via Laila Lalami.