Saturday, October 9, 2004

For revealing the absurdity of society's clichés and their subjugating power...

NPR: "Austrian novelist and playwright Elfriede Jelinek won the 2004 Nobel Prize in Literature on Thursday, becoming only the ninth woman to receive the honor. In bestowing the award, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences praised 'her musical flow of voices and counter-voices in novels and plays that… reveal the absurdity of society's clichés and their subjugating power'."

BBC News rounds up the initial European press comments. According to the Tribune de Geneve, "The jury gave the award to a woman who does not mince her words, except to spit them out in your face."

Washington Post: "Lamb-Faffelberger calls Jelinek's writing 'creative resistance.' 'She digs down to the bottom and looks at those who are suffering greatly under the anti-Semitism that is still smoldering under the rug, the xenophobia that is still smoldering under the rug, the Catholicism with all its negatives,' said Lamb-Faffelberger ... The sex she portrays is raw, depraved, sadomasochistic. Her work has at times attracted the label 'pornographic'."

CBC: "She is 'a very unusual, completely offbeat, radical and extreme writer, and as a result of that, very controversial,' Marcel Reich-Ranicki, a prominent German literary critic, told the Associated Press. Nevertheless, he found it 'very pleasing' that the Nobel Academy chose Jelinek – a feminist, leftist and pacifist writer whose work explores issues such as sexuality, the role of women, violence and power in our consumer society ... Horace Engdahl, secretary general of the academy, anticipates some criticism for selecting a writer who is not easily accessible to the average reader. 'She'll be seen as an exclusive writer that perhaps the average person will have a hard time embracing," he said. "But I think readers will get used to her in time'."

I wonder if she'd be seen as so radical and controversial if she weren't a woman?


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