13 October, 2005

The Nobel Prize Schmobel Prize

In Stockholm, Knut Ahnlund, 82, has pulled his membership from the Swedish Academy, which awards the Nobel Prize for literature every year. According to the BBC, his resignation comes in protest of last years winner, Elfriede Jelinek. Ahnlund declared her work to be
"whingeing, unenjoyable, violent pornography"
However, despite his outspoken opinion, Ahnlund has not been a participant in selection deliberations since 1996. That's right, almost 10 years. So I find it pretty amusing when he accuses the selection committee of being unfamiliar with Jelinek's work. He refers to her work as "A mass of text shoveled together without structure," and says that her selection as the winner has "caused irreparable harm to the value of the award for the foreseeable future."

"Ahnlund suggested that only a "tiny number" of the 18 jurors who awarded the prize to the German-speaking Jelinek had actually read any of her books. Jelinek was an "obsessive" with a "single track", Ahnlund added." (The Guardian, Oct. 12)

That definitely sucks if people on such a notable committee charged with handing out a prestigious award such as the Nobel Prize are not familiar with the work they are recognizing. So why bother even noting his dissent? For one, she was awarded the prize a year ago, and he is just speaking up now. I guess he takes his position pretty seriously. Second, he hasn't even participated in the committee since 1996. The permanent secretary to the Academy, Horace Engdahl, had the following to say:
Ahnlund had not participated in academy meetings for nearly 10 years and was not privy to discussions leading to Jelinek's selection. He knows nothing about the discussion that led to the choice of Elfriede Jelinek so what he says in this article of his must be seen as empty speculation.
What a crock. This dude obviously has an axe to grind and the means to do it. Look man, if you're pissed about this years selection, at least try not to make an ass of yourself by bringing up inconsequential information on which you have no background to begin with.

Seriously, the guy hasn't been involved with the selection process in almost 10 years, and comes in questioning the decision of the committee that he is on? Dude, you're supposed to be involved, don't know if you noticed. Idiot. For reference, see the picture of all the old heads at the top of this post. It's from an official meeting of the Academy in 1999. Where's Ahnlund? He's not in it.
"After this, I cannot even formally remain in the Swedish Academy. As of now, I consider myself an outsider."
I can probably speak for the active members of that committee when I say I don't think he'll be missed that much. Seems like he's been an outsider for quite some time now anyhow. Four of the 18 permanent members have been appointed after Ahnlund's active participation ceased.

I think the dude is probably pissed about this years selection, like some others speculate, but can't voice that because the winner has not been officially announced. Or maybe he's just bitter. Either way, it's pretty funny. The dude spoke up like an idiot and totally got called out on it by a member of the committee he probably doesn't even know because Engdahl was appointed in '97.


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