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From The Guardian:

Nobel prize in literature 2018 cancelled after sexual assault scandal

Decision follows string of sexual assault allegations made against husband of former member of the Swedish Academy

Alison Flood

Fri 4 May 2018 03.07 EDT Last modified on Fri 4 May 2018 04.46 EDT

The Swedish Academy announced on Friday morning that there would be no Nobel laureate for literature selected in 2018, as it attempts to come to terms with controversy over its links to a man accused of sexual assault.

For the first time since 1949, the secretive jury that hands out the world’s most prestigious literary award will not unveil a winner this autumn, instead revealing two winners in 2019.

So, you octogenarian white guys Don DeLillo, Philip Roth, Cormac McCarthy, Thomas Pynchon, Tom Wolfe, and Tom Stoppard (parents evidently liked the name “Thomas” in the 1930s), try not to die before October 2019 because Nobels aren’t given out posthumously. On second thought, as straight white guys you were all pretty much out of the running anyway, not with talents like Ta-Nehisi “The Genius” Coates around, so don’t worry about it.

The decision, announced at 9am Swedish time following a meeting on Thursday, comes after a string of sexual assault allegations made against the French photographer Jean-Claude Arnault, the husband of academy member and poet Katarina Frostenson.

… After the allegations against Arnault were made public in November, three members of the 18-strong jury that selects the literature laureate resigned in protest over the decision not to expel Frostenson. Arnault was also accused of leaking the names of seven former Nobel winners. He denies both claims.

Sounds like Kiplingesque nonagenarian travel writer James/Jan Morris has a better chance than DeLillo et al for Morris having taken radical action against his own cishetness more than 40 years before Caitlyn Jenner.

Anyway, this is a another example of prestigious left of center cultural institutions (e.g., Oscar-gobbling Weinstein Pictures, the Charlie Rose Show, Prairie Home Companion, etc. etc.) being the center of #MeToo accusations. For example, today they came for Junot Diaz, the most award-winning Dominican-American writer. You can’t get more center-left respectable than the Swedish Academy in charge of selecting the Nobel Prize in Literature, but here we are.

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  1. peterike says:

    The winner will be the guy that wrote the Black Panther movie.

    • Replies: @Barnard
    , @Altai
  2. Anonymous[271] • Disclaimer says:

    >Philip Roth
    >white guy
    This Portgoy’s got a Complaint.

  3. Nobel for literature is good only for recipient’s finances. Otherwise, it is worthless. Considering that Tolstoy & Ibsen, Proust & Joyce, Musil & Broch, Conrad & Lawrence, Woolf & Yourcenar …went to their graves Nobelless, while Pearl Buck, Werner von Heidenstam & Carl Spitteler got Nobels – evidently, it doesn’t affect anyone’s literary “immortality”.

  4. So, octogenarian white guys Don DeLillo, Philip Roth, Tom Wolfe, and Tom Stoppard, try not to die before October 2019 because Nobels aren’t given out posthumously

    Don’t forget Pynchon. He’s not for everyone, but he should get the Nobel for ‘Mason & Dixon’ alone.

  5. Tiny Duck says:

    Why are white guys so creepy and perverted?

    No wonder white women are in dreading it preferring Men of Color

    Off topic you guys NEED to read small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

  6. Anon[200] • Disclaimer says:

    (((American))) cultural influence

  7. Who is the greatest American author born since the end of WWII?

  8. ERM says:

    Who knows what the standards are for the meaningless Nobel literary prize but Morris is an excellent writer and prolific over the years, so they could do a lot worse.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    , @fitzGetty
  9. DFH says:
    @the whole sick crew

    He should get it for services to overinflated English Literature departments

  10. New episodes of this story appears in the Scandinavian newspapers every week. Last I heard, Arnault was accused of not only sexually assaulting the wives and daughters of various members of the Swedish Academy: apparently, he also groped Crown Princess Victoria herself – on some accounts, while she was standing next to King Carl Gustav. Of course, the King has long had quite a reputation as a philanderer himself, so maybe he did not think there was anything inappropriate about it.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  11. Pericles says:

    In the end too many academy members resigned as part of this circus — including the hapless Sara Danius, who in her brief tenure also led the academy to hand the prize to Bob Dylan. However, Göran Malmquist, an old warhorse of the academy, told the press that work was ongoing as usual and two prizes will be awarded next year(!). The main reason not to award it this year is instead that it would be tainted by the current affair. Make of that what you will.

    Nobody should need to say this, but all in all, the academy should take this as an opportunity for reflection on their responsibilities and that they should elect suitable members and leaders for this purpose. Not just any old 1968 marxist pothead wino street trash.

    • Replies: @NOTA
  12. Luke Lea says:

    Jan Morris can get it on the merits

    • Replies: @fitzGetty
  13. @Anonymouss Bosch

    Who is this guy, a fashion photographer?

  14. @ERM

    I’ve read about about half dozen of Morris’s books over the years. His shtick is glamorizing the British Empire.

    I gave one to my dad about some place we’d been too. He read it and said, “While I was reading this I was sure this was by a man, but on the back it says Morris is a woman.”

  15. @Bardon Kaldian

    Not to mention the Academy’s allergy to Catholic writers: no Nobel for Chesterton, Waugh, Greene, Tolkien, Endo, Godden, or O’Connor, just to name a few who wrote in English.

    • Replies: @Anon
    , @Bardon Kaldian
  16. Nobel’s most explosive invention
    Was these Mothers of Endless Contention.
    Mathematics wins none;
    Swedes just wanna have fun.
    How prestige dripped away they won’t mention.

  17. @Steve Sailer

    Mostly artsy landscapes, far as I can tell, but whatever his merits as an artist may have been, it seems like he primarily made his living by (ab)using his wife’s position on the Swedish Academy to get funding etc. for his art center. Otherwise, he is basically just an ugly dude with big hair, like most of the other prominent MeToo abusers:

  18. @Steve Sailer

    I always think of Jan Morris as the Deidre McCloskey of British historiography. Since James became Jan about two decades before Donald became Deidre, though, I guess one should rather call McCloskey the Jan Morris of economics.

    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar
  19. Jake says:

    Cormac McCarthy deserves the Nobel more than any living person, including the many 2nd and 3rd rate winners.

    • Agree: Thea
    • Replies: @Seminumerical
  20. Jake says:
    @Steve Sailer

    A tranny who adores Empire: perfect for choice for Scandinavians being raped to death by Numinous Negroes and swarthy Mohammedans.

    • Replies: @Not Raul
  21. Stick says:

    Not sure Phillip Roth warrants a Nobel. At best, he is an okay writer. Mixing Hawthorne and Freud was not that impressive. I would like to see Tom Wolfe get recognized. His stuff is actually original and unique in many ways Roth isn’t.

  22. Anon[204] • Disclaimer says:


    The Grapes of Wrath returneth evermore

    GARCIA: So Tom Deardorff has had to compete for workers. He’s raised their pay by actually quite a lot. Back in 2006, working the celery field paid about $8.70 an hour. Now it pays more than $21 an hour. We couldn’t speak to any of the workers on Tom’s farm. But Tom says his workers all are documented and that even doubling wages hasn’t solved the labor problem.

    Crops, not yet rotting, but soon…

    • Replies: @Buffalo Joe
    , @duncsbaby
  23. @Bardon Kaldian

    …. while Pearl Buck, Werner von Heidenstam & Carl Spitteler got Nobels

    Peal Buck was a superb novelist.

    Have you read any of her novels?

  24. Anon[237] • Disclaimer says:

    Eternal bridesmaid Haruki Murakami will be declared a double winer in 2019

  25. Barnard says:

    Or it could be whatever rapper is popular this time next year.

  26. prosa123 says: • Website

    According to Baby Name Wizard, Thomas was the 9th most popular name for boys born in the 1930′s and ranked 8th in the 1940′s. Today it’s all the way down to 52nd place.

    • Replies: @Rosamond Vincy
  27. PSR says:

    Cormac McCarthy should be on that list too.

  28. @the whole sick crew

    Pynchon, DeLillo and Roth are all dull and pedantic. Only Wolfe, among them, is a good writer. While I’m on the subject, Cormac McCarthy should get the Nobel. He won’t of course. His work is too masculine, violent and American.

    • Replies: @Dave Pinsen
  29. Anon[106] • Disclaimer says:


    My rephrasing and extension of a recent article by Oxford philosophy professor Amia Srinivasan

    Come the Revolution, the fat, the disabled, the short, trans women, Asian-American men with small penises, Leslie Jones, and others imprisoned in the current patriarchal racist-sexist-homophobic nightware society in which we now live will be considered sexually hot and pursued by those cishets who in our current societ are considered attractive.

    Sort of a corollary to Sailer’s Law of Female Journalism in Douthat column:

    But Hanson’s post made me immediately think of a recent essay in The London Review of Books by Amia Srinivasan, “Does Anyone Have the Right To Sex?” Srinivasan, an Oxford philosophy professor, covered similar ground (starting with an earlier “incel” killer) but expanded the argument well beyond the realm of male chauvinists to consider groups with whom The London Review’s left-leaning and feminist readers would have more natural sympathy — the overweight and disabled, minority groups treated as unattractive by the majority, trans women unable to find partners and other victims, in her narrative, of a society that still makes us prisoners of patriarchal and also racist-sexist-homophobic rules of sexual desire.

    Srinivasan ultimately answered her title question in the negative: “There is no entitlement to sex, and everyone is entitled to want what they want.” But her negative answer was a qualified one. While “no one has a right to be desired,” at the same time “who is desired and who isn’t is a political question,” which left-wing and feminist politics might help society answer differently someday. This wouldn’t instantiate a formal right to sex, exactly, but if the new order worked as its revolutionary architects intended, sex would be more justly distributed than it is today.

    Related Robin Hanson links from the Douthat article:

  30. The two Nobel prizes for literature and peace would be a couple of obscure, if rich, prizes today if it hadn’t been for the Nobel prizes in science.

    The science Nobels lucked out in terms of quickly establishing a reputation because they were instituted at the start of the 20th century.

    In particular, the prizes in physics and chemistry were established at start of the golden age of physics. The Royal Swedish Academy of Science had a steady supply, for decades, of truly titanic figures on whom to bestow the prize. It didn’t hurt that the 20th century saw huge advances in medicine and the biological sciences as well, increasing the supply of great men in science available for recognition with a Nobel.

    The literature and peace prizes bask in the reflected prestige of the science prizes, despite a relatively large number of damp squib awards in those two categories over the course of a century.

    • Replies: @Old Palo Altan
  31. @Steve Sailer

    He has been accused of groping the heir to the Swedish throne, Crown Princess Victoria.

    He must be a chins man.

    • Replies: @Silva
  32. @Tiny Duck

    He didn’t get the title right but at least he correctly identified the author. As it so happens, writer Jodi Picoult is jewish.

    The story line involves an African-American labor/delivery nurse in charge of newborns at a Connecticut hospital. She is ordered not to touch the baby of a white supremacist couple. After the baby dies in her care, she is charged with murder and taken to court.

    A must read! I imagine Picoult’s Nobel is a mere formality at this point.

    • LOL: YetAnotherAnon
    • Replies: @Rosamond Vincy
  33. @Tiny Duck

    Off topic you guys NEED to read small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

    Having read one of her books – Nineteen Minutes – I can safely say that Jodi Picoult is a hack.

    If there were a cheesy Lifetime movie about a Columbine-ish school massacre, then Nineteen Minutes would be its novelization.

    The main characters are three 17-year-olds – Josie the pretty preppy, Matt the Haven Monahan-ish jock a**hole, and Peter the geeky butt-monkey. Josie, outwardly perfect but secretly miserable, is Matt’s girlfriend and Peter’s ex-friend. (She dumped him as a buddy after the Mean Girls let her into their clique.)


    The narrative has a convoluted structure – it keeps skipping back and forth chronologically – but the basic plot is simple enough: the Mean Girls (and Boys) make merciless fun of Peter until one day he brings a gun to school and blows them away.

    The massacre lasts exactly nineteen minutes. Matt dies. Josie survives. Peter is taken alive and eventually goes on trial. Angst ensues. At the end comes a “shocking” twist (a Picoult trademark, or so I’ve heard).

    This excerpt is representative:

    Matt was leaning against the refrigerator in the corner; he must have let himself in through the open garage door. Like always, he made her head swim with seasons – his hair was all the colors of autumn; his eyes the bright blue of a winter sky; his smile as wide as any summer sun. He was wearing a baseball hat backward, and a Sterling Varsity Hockey tee over a thermal shirt that Josie had once stolen for a full month and hidden in her underwear drawer, so that when she needed to she could breathe in the scent of him. “Are you still pissed off?” he asked.

    Josie hesitated. “I wasn’t the one who was mad.”

    Matt pushed away from the refrigerator, coming forward until he could link his arms around Josie’s waist. “You know I can’t help it.”

    A dimple blossomed in his right cheek; Josie could already feel herself softening. “It wasn’t that I didn’t want to see you. I really did have to study.”

    Matt pushed her hair off her face and kissed her. This was exactly why she’d told him not to come over last night – when she was with him, she felt herself evaporating. Sometimes, when he touched her, Josie imagined herself vanishing in a puff of steam.

    He tasted of maple syrup, of apologies. “It’s all your fault, you know,” he said. “I wouldn’t act as crazy if I didn’t love you so much.”

    At that moment, Josie could not remember the pills she was hoarding in her room; she could not remember crying in the shower; she could not remember anything but what it felt like to be adored. I’m lucky, she told herself, the word streaming like a silver ribbon through her mind. Lucky, lucky, lucky.

    Many schools have made the book required reading. Some parents have objected to their kids’ being exposed to it.

    (Matt and Josie get it on several times. Picoult describes their encounters with surprising explicitness.)

    Basically, it’s one big pile of meh.

    • Replies: @J.Ross
    , @duncsbaby
  34. Has a black person ever won a Nobel Prize in any of the sciences? It seems to me in the more subjective categories (i.e. the categories where they can fudge merit) Lit and Peace, they load up on “people of color” and women. We see the same things in academia. “Our university boasts a large number of black faculty! Yes, they’re all in the bullshit departments, but…a large number!”

  35. Steve, that HuffPo item you discreetly linked behind Tennessee Coates’ name was pretty funny. Coates actually does seem reasonable and modest next to the pompous and un-self-aware ethnic prison camp guard/Atlantic editor Jeffrey Goldberg, who basically says that what is acceptable to publish is whatever he says is acceptable to publish, which he will decide on an ongoing basis with no objective references. Also, straight white males need not apply, and old white dudes just die already, sorry James you can stay.

  36. Anon[416] • Disclaimer says:
    @Percy Gryce

    Bingo! Still I commend the absolutely amazing 1928 (if memory serves) winner Sigrid Undset. Her “Kristin Lavransdatter” covers the lifetime arc of the heroine with surprising deepness, the same for the three men in her life, particularly her father. The complete, unadulterated story of a soul’s path to God.

    • Replies: @Gracebear
    , @Gracebear
  37. Pat Boyle says:

    We get in a lot of trouble when we fail to remember that we descend from chimps not Bonobos.

    Homo split from our common ancestor with chimpanzees about seven million years ago. About one million years ago there was a geological event that moved the Congo river. Since chimps can’t swim those caught on the south shore diverged from the main population and came to become the Bonobos.

    These were important events in the history of human sex. Bonobos resolve disputes with sex. The females dominate the males and Bonobos are remarkably less violent than their northern shore cousins the Chimpanzees.

    Chimps are aggressive, violent and treacherous. Male chimps beat the females before and after sex. This behavior is maintained in the lineage because it is well known that the females who have been beaten have more offspring than those who escaped being beaten. So female chimps have evolved to seek being dominated and beaten. The ones who don’t like “rough sex” have lost out from natural selection.

    Humans descended from the nasty and vicious chimps not the politically correct Bonobos who didn’t arise until human were well separated off onto another line when the Congo river arose. So it should be no surprise that human sexual patterns resemble those of chimps more than those of Bonobos. This resemblance is probably the root of human BDSM. Otherwise BDSM is very mysterious. Many women like to be spanked and spanking hurts.

    Women also like to be respected and cherished. So women present men with a mixed message. They evidently feel a pull towards the dominant assertive and sexually aggressive men but also have gentler feeling that probably arose only with civilization.

  38. Silva says:

    You know, I thought a Swedish princess was going to be hot. She’s quarter-Brazilian.

    • Replies: @Fredrik
  39. eD says:

    Piltdown Man above makes an excellent point, but there are two additional problems with taking the Nobel Prize for Literature seriously.

    The first is that the prize is awarded “”in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction” This is a quote from Nobel’s will and this is what the prize is awarded for on its own terms. It is NOT a lifetime achievement award for being a good writer, was never intended as such, and by its own terms you don’t have to be a good writer to be awarded the prize. People keep wanting to treat it as a lifetime achievement literature award when its never been that.

    It probably should have been awarded from the start to specific books, not authors, which would have cut down the solution and also solved the porthumous award problem.

    The second is that it is supposed to be an international award, which you just can’t do with writing because by definition it means reading tons of books in translation if you really want to consider writers on a worldwide basis.. The jury would have to be able to “get” works in other cultures, which is hard. You can have, for instance, an English language only literature prize but not an international one. That the awarders are Swedish probably doesn’t help.

    As it happens, they did generally give it to great or at least really good writers from the 1920s through the 1960s but otherwise the prize has been a joke. If you are wondering, there are issues with the science problems too but this comment is already too long.

    • Replies: @Western
  40. I just read T Genius first black panther comic book. I liked it! Part of the appeal is that I see it as a satire on conic book characters. He should have gotten a Nobel prize for this. Only Racism prevented this.

  41. Does this mean there won’t be any Academy Awards next year?

    • LOL: bomag
  42. peterike says:
    @James Braxton

    Who is the greatest American author born since the end of WWII?

    Jay McInerney? There is by no means an obvious answer.

    • Replies: @James Braxton
    , @fitzGetty
  43. Anon[204] • Disclaimer says:


    Amazing how the laws of economics magically reappear when a country isn’t white!

    Foreign labor has underpinned that rebound. The central bank estimates that about 82 percent of the net jobs created in 2016 went to non-residents. Unemployment among 15 to 24 year olds stood at 10.8 percent last year, according to the World Bank, while joblessness among local graduates has increased more sharply than non-graduates since 2011, data from the central bank shows.

    This is the Malaysian version of VDARE’s Ed Rubenstein, published in an oligarch’s journalist outfit

  44. Tyrion 2 says:
    @Pat Boyle

    I don’t think you really need to do a Bonobo versus Chimps comparison.

    Women often normally enjoy a bit of drama more than men do but also very rarely want to be treated terribly.

    I find I end up a little tetchy if I haven’t exercised in a while. I also find that most women seem to have their outlook lifted by the occasional emotional workout.

    Hence the well-known phenomenon of women bursting into tears at the gym:

    When the song ends, Toomey directs the group into child’s pose, torso folded over the knees, forehead on the floor, arms spread forward. Coldplay comes on, and there is a moment of rest. “Inhale. Exhale. Feel your center,” Toomey says. Heads slowly come up, and suddenly, tears are streaming down the faces of half the room. A woman in front of me is physically trembling. “I just let it all out,” a middle-aged woman in leggings and a tank top whispers.

    Needing more emotional exercise can lead to many women finding dangerous and mean-seeming guys magnetic. I’ve yet to meet any who actually want physical ill-treatment though. A bit of sexual throwing around with consent does not count.

    The really top grade guy will notice when she needs catharsis and will guide her to it by discussing a subject about her life that has been bubbling under the surface.

    Not coincidentally, the highest level of female sexual development according to Jung was when a woman could see a man as a spiritual mediator and guide.

    Then again, as a therapist he probably would say that!

    More relevantly for this site, the highest level for a man is merely to be able to see individual women as individuals with good and bad propensities.

    • LOL: donut
    • Replies: @Dave Pinsen
  45. Altai says:

    You joke but it’s at least going to be nominated for best screenplay and best picture at next years Oscars. If stuff at the level of The Shape of Water can win best picture for political correctness, then Black Panther is going to sweep the boards. But maybe Trump will be at war with Iran by then and a ‘strange new respect’ will descend over all the ‘progressives’ and ‘liberals’ and the anti-Trump tone will mysteriously vanish.

    Literally every category they can will at least have a nomination for Black Panther. Maybe only best screenplay, best picture, best wardrobe, best actor, best score and best supporting actress if Trump attacks Iran.

  46. dada-a says:
    @Pat Boyle

    You got to have money.

  47. anon[508] • Disclaimer says:

    Good, the entire Nobel organization stinks to high heaven and needs to go die.

    We already know who will win every year, either a black, a Jew or a gay.

  48. black sea says:
    @Tiny Duck

    Why are white guys so creepy and perverted?

    Let me guess, you caught a glimpse of your face reflected in your computer screen, and suddenly that question came to mind?

    • Replies: @Malcolm X-Lax
  49. Chebyshev says:
    @Almost Missouri

    Yeah, that article deserves its own dissection by Steve.

  50. @black sea

    I saw his post and thought, ya know, anecdotally, the secret sexual interests of (a) the greatest black rock star (Chuck Berry–in to piss/shit degradation of white women) and the greatest/most famous black comedian/actor (Bill Cosby –into drugging and raping primarily white women)…

    are nothing to write home about.

    P.S. The most famous black woman in the world (Oprah Winfrey) was raped by her uncle/s.

    These are remarkable coincidences.

  51. syonredux says:
    @Bardon Kaldian

    Nobel for literature is good only for recipient’s finances. Otherwise, it is worthless. Considering that Tolstoy & Ibsen, Proust & Joyce, Musil & Broch, Conrad & Lawrence, Woolf & Yourcenar …went to their graves Nobelless, while Pearl Buck, Werner von Heidenstam & Carl Spitteler got Nobels – evidently, it doesn’t affect anyone’s literary “immortality”.

    The Nobel Academy definitely has a knack for missing the immortals. Note, for example, how they skipped over both Mark Twain and Henry James in favor of Sinclair Lewis as the first Yank Lit Laureate.

    What’s really odd, though, is that a bunch of Scandinavians denied medals to both Ibsen and Strindberg…..

    • Replies: @lavoisier
  52. @Tiny Duck

    TD, speaking of small “things”…guy walks up to the librarian and asks, “Do you have the new book about small penises ?” Librarian replies…”I don’t think it’s in yet.” Guy says…”Yes, that’s the title.” You have a nice day. Wouldn’t want anything to happen to our resident troll.

    • Replies: @Curmudgeon
  53. Tyrion 2 says:
    @Dave Pinsen

    Oh, I am very aware of Soul Cycle. Chicks dig it but goodness is it over-priced! One visit to sit on a bike and have loud music for an hour costs more than my monthly gym membership.

  54. Anon[204] • Disclaimer says:
    @The Z Blog

    Enoch was right, the black man has the whip hand over the white man.

  55. The Nobel Prize lost all relevance when they awarded the Peace Prize, pre accomplishments, to Obama, who went on to become the most divisive president in US history. I believe his hatred, maybe too strong a word, for whites in general, led to the murder of six police officers in Dallas.

    • Replies: @Buzz Mohawk
  56. Anon[277] • Disclaimer says:
    @Bardon Kaldian

    Don’t forget the immortal literature created by Italian cartoonist Dario Fo. Or was it Po?

  57. @Percy Gryce

    I don’t want to write a long comment, so just a few rambling thoughts….

    Lit Nobels are generally anti-religious, and Catholic writers are the most vital among religiously-minded authors. Virtually only “Protestant novelist”- I mean explicit Protestant Christian- was John Updike, and he didn’t get Nobel either. Judaist (religious) Jews are very scarce & didn’t get the prize, too.

    Muslims, Hindus,… marginal.

    Also gays (Gide was an exception) & right wingers.

    Among greatest 20th C imaginative writers of the highest rank, most were either cultural Catholics or converts (Proust, Joyce, Musil, Rilke, Broch, Conrad, Karl Kraus, Garcia Marquez..) & great technically Protestant authors (Thomas Mann, William Faulkner) not infrequently used Catholic themes (probably some sort of cultural attraction).

    Tolkien invented high fantasy, but this type of writing is not susceptible to canonization- the same with science fiction; Endo wrote in Japanese; Greene was ostracized for too many reasons (in comparison with him, Hemingway was a PC prude); Chesterton did not fit well in any conventional genre (though, Nobel for Bertrand Russell and Winston Churchill is absurdity); O’Connor died too young; Waugh was…well, he was unacceptable.

    Nobel for literature, peace & economics should be abolished and prize for mathematics, technology/inventions & perhaps earth sciences or agriculture instituted.

    Of course, this won’t happen …

    • Replies: @Old Palo Altan
    , @Western
  58. @Buffalo Joe

    The literature prize lost a little gravitas with Bob Dylan, whose latest gig is huckstering whiskey.

  59. cthulhu says:

    Tom Wolfe richly deserves any honor he gets – his observations of America and the world have been spot on for more than 50 years, he was the main inventor of the New Journalism, and he writes really, really well – but it will never happen; he’s conservative and, more importantly, known to be conservative. (Bob Dylan, by many accounts, is somewhat conservative but is not known as a conservative.)

    Thomas Pynchon would be a good choice though; Mason & Dixon is a modern masterpiece, as is Gravity’s Rainbow, and the rest of his stuff is at least very good.

    • Replies: @Ganderson
  60. cthulhu says:
    @James Braxton

    Neal Stephenson is pretty damned good, much better than the overrated Cormac McCarthy IMO.

    The state of fiction nowadays is pretty dire though.

  61. Barnard says:
    @James Braxton

    Given the standards of the past, I doubt there is an American author born since WWII who would qualify for the term “greatest.”

  62. Anon[178] • Disclaimer says: • Website

    Yup, the supremacism of delusional self-righteousness.

  63. J.Ross says: • Website

    For this award to have meaning, surely there must be years when they see no worthy candidates? Isn’t the Fields medal awarded somewhat irregularly?

    • Replies: @Pericles
  64. @Pat Boyle

    You can buy into the common ancestor thing if you want to, but I don’t. I don’t believe the Bible-thumper version either, but it makes a hell of a lot more sense than us descending from a single celled animal created by the result of a “big bang” of an unknown object, form an unknown source, at an unknown time, for an unknown reason.

    The fact that Australian Aborigines are now considered to have the oldest DNA, and that DNA has been found in remains covered in bat guano from Russian caves shoots a big hole in the out of Africa narrative, as does the fact that no Africans have Neanderthal DNA, and recent finds in Greece and Bulgaria predate the alleged out of Africa time period and are actually found going INTO Africa.

    • Replies: @Coag
  65. @Buffalo Joe

    An ancient Scottish joke:
    “Ahm I hurtin’ ye, Mary?”
    “Is it in, Jock?”

  66. @prosa123

    At least there’s nothing to be ashamed of there. Imagine all those grandpa Bradens, Jadens, and Kaydens in 2060.

  67. @Bardon Kaldian

    I have no doubt that many of the earlier Nobels for Literature would today be considered shockingly “right-wing”.
    The prize-winner though would surely be either Yeats or Hamsun.

    • Replies: @Pericles
  68. @Steve Sailer

    And your father, of course, was right.

  69. Pericles says:

    The prize is given for a body of work, not a particular book so there are many to pick from. Basically, there’s about 200 candidates every year, several of them having been proposed multiple times; 20 get put on the longlist; 5 on the shortlist.

    The real fun is when the selected winner then declines the prize, like Sartre did. (He wanted the money though, but didn’t get it.)

  70. @PiltdownMan

    A penetrating observation. My Dutch cousin won it for the electrocardiogram – would a Dutchman winning the prize for literature have anything like that sort of an impact?
    As it happens, the Dutch writer of some consequence who was perhaps as worthy as many an actual winner to be awarded the prize, Marcellus Emants, was also a cousin. We’ve all had electrocardiograms, but which of us has read Lilith?

  71. Not Raul says:
    @Steve Sailer

    Something is rotten in the state of Sweden.

  72. Fredrik says:

    Quarter Portuguese and mostly German is probably the best description. Her maternal grandfather was a Nazi if you believe the narrative in Sweden. Quite a few on the paternal side too for that matter. Not that anyone really cares.

  73. J.Ross says: • Website
    @Old Palo Altan

    The name Lillith is massively over-used because feminists illiterately decided that the lilitu were the Jewish goddess of feminism. I have not heard of this, is it available in English? The only novel I know by that title is the one from midcentury about the nymphomaniac who collects prisms.

  74. So if I understand this correctly, three “aides” to the Swedish Royal Family, claimed that they saw Arnault “grope” a Swedish Princess, so Arnault’s wife should resign. “Touching” a Royal unless one offers a hand for a handshake, is a gigantic no-no, much less groping one. If Arnault was groping, you can bet that more tan a slap on the hand would have happened. There’s a big credibility gap in that narrative. That aside, resigning for something a family member may have done is nonsensical, if there is no direct cause-effect. Does a teacher resign if a family member beats the crap out of a neighbour?
    As for the alleged “leaks”, his wife may have “leaked” the names to him. If he then repeats the information, he is not the leak, she is. Unless there is evidence that she leaked the information to him, they need to STFU.

  75. @Anon

    Anon, $21 p/hr that’s GM assembly line starting wages. But probably no benefits.

    • Replies: @Not Raul
  76. Bill B. says:
    @Pat Boyle

    So you’re saying we shouldn’t give Nobels to chimps?

  77. Anon[426] • Disclaimer says:

    “Genius” Grant Recipient Junot Diaz got metoo’d.

    • Replies: @Antlitz Grollheim
  78. fish2 says:
    @Tiny Duck

    >Why are white guys so creepy and perverted?

    It’s how we get into the pants of Women of Color, TD. Perviness and pale skin has niche value on the BDSM market in much of the non-Western world, believe it or not.

    >No wonder white women are in dreading it preferring Men of Color

    The 400 pound white American chick with an attitude? Yeah, we’re more than happy for the brothers to take them off our hands.

    Seriously, I don’t care.

  79. eD says:

    Prizes and awards derive their prestige from their awardees, not the other way around.

    However, the Nobels are a bad iteration of the genre, poorly thought out and over-hyped, and the Nobel Estate was unable or unwilling to take legal action to prevent the Bank of Sweden from calling its economics prize a “Nobel Prize”.

  80. fish2 says:
    @Tiny Duck


    Where’s my namesake with the obligatory Leonard Pitts joke? It seems particularly apropos here. I wouldn’t want to half-ass something he does best, of course.

  81. Not Raul says:
    @Buffalo Joe

    $21 per hour doesn’t seem excessively high considering that picking vegetables can be grueling work.

    • Replies: @prosa123
  82. Mr. Blank says:
    @James Braxton

    A toughie. Neal Stephenson’s not a bad choice; which means we can probably count him out. I also like James Ellroy, but he’s not really their type, either.

    Those are the only ones I can think of with something like universal appeal. But literature has become so splintered since that a list of “best American writers born since World War II” would probably include a bunch of writers I’ve never even heard of.

    I keep meaning to read Cormac McCarthy, but I’ve never gotten around to it.

  83. Coag says:

    Your musings about the one celled animal are embarrassing all of us the collective iSteve commentariat but I agree with Sailer’s observation that for practical purposes it’s easier to reach an understanding with someone who thinks Jehovah created non-equal human races in 6 literal days than it is with someone who thinks evolution worked for billions of years and then magically stopped working when humans appeared, just so that egalitarian mankind may remain unmolested by natural selection.

  84. anonn says:

    On second thought, as straight white guys you were all pretty much out of the running anyway, not with talents like Ta-Nehisi “The Genius” Coates around, so don’t worry about it.

    What a moronic criticism. 5 out of the last 10 winners are white men, and 3 of the last 10 are white women. Of the 2 non-whites, one writes in English and is a UK citizen.

  85. @Mr. Blank

    You are right. My favorite is Richard Price, but he would not be on anyone else’s short list.

  86. @Jake

    Cormac McCarthy is, I just realized, the only living writer of fiction I read.

    I used to follow Anthony Powell while he was still alive and writing Dance to the Music of Time.

    Nowadays I’d rather disappear into 19th century India with Kim, or into …

    Oh wait. I recently read Derbyshire’s Coolidge novel. Got him to autograph it in exchange for several billion Zimbabwean dollars. So two living novelists.

  87. guest says:

    DeLillo has feet of clay. I’d call him a fraud if postmodernists can be frauds. (They can, but just to be on the safe side…)

    Philip Roth I could live with, though the three books of his I’ve read I either despised or didn’t much care for.

    Wolfe and Stoppard, heck yeah.

    • Replies: @James Braxton
  88. @Almost Missouri

    I think they both came off pretty badly. As I understand it, the meeting was to address whether the Atlantic acted correctly in hiring Kevin Williamson, and in firing him soon afterward, in light of his pronouncements about abortion. Coates opens the meeting by talking about how The New Republic was racist 20 years ago because it published Charles Murray and Richard Herrnstein, and then segued to his article in the Atlantic about racial reparations and then to complaining about the lack of African-American writers who think and write the way he does. He only gradually drifts into talking about Williamson. He admits that he disagrees with Williamson but admires him as a vigorous writer. But he buries this under a ton of vague nonsense about defining acceptable versus unacceptable discourse.

    He only comes off okay because he was sharing the stage with Goldberg. Yeah, I think Goldberg says that whatever is acceptable to publish is what he says is acceptable to publish. But, you know, that is the job of an editor. That is what an editor does. But an editor should take responsibility for his choices. Goldberg tries to make it sound like he had no say in the matter. It wasn’t his fault. It wasn’t his decision. It is just that there are these standards, and Williamson fell outside them. But, hey, he had nothing to do with that. It was really the fault of the women in the room who felt “uncomfortable” with Williamson’s views. What can he do?

    • Replies: @Simon
  89. guest says:
    @Mr. Blank

    McCarthy is sentence fragments and pseudo-Old Testament.

    Does that tickle you?

    • Replies: @Seminumerical
  90. @Pat Boyle

    Jewesses are particularly inclined

    to this sort of thing.

    • Replies: @Pat Boyle
  91. prosa123 says: • Website
    @Not Raul

    Also, it’s certainly not year-round work, more likely just a few weeks during the harvest.

  92. @guest

    All born pre-1945. The dearth of writing talent produced in the last seven decades is pretty remarkable.

  93. J.Ross says: • Website

    I like the leftist historical crime novelist David Peace who has this very severe version of the cut-up technique. Definitely an acquired taste, I didn’t get it on my first attempt. His stranger-danger-era quartet Red Riding was made into three movies of varying acceptability.

  94. J.Ross says: • Website
    @Stan Adams

    Chicks can’t say “no” to maple syrup.
    But yeah the 4chan-esque video game they made was more accurate and relevant (the one where you have to fetch a copy of Ecce Homo for Nietzsche in hell: it had a lot of details in the cut scenes and dialogue); the only book on rage killings that is worth knowing about is Going Postal by Exile publisher Mark Ames.

  95. Sam Patch says:

    Junot Díaz is Dominican, not Puerto Rican. Might seem like a subtle distinction from afar, but try telling that to people from either country.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  96. @Anonymouss Bosch

    Is the Deirdre related to Robert McCloskey?

    Much of today’s news and culture reads like an adult parody of those wacky Homer Price tales.

  97. @Anon

    I refuse to wait until a convenient time with no danger of repercussions anymore

  98. @Tiny Duck

    Tiny says “No wonder white women are in dreading it preferring Men of Color”.

    But do they really?

    This from Ron Paul’s site….(my bold)

    “November 20, 2013

    The data shown above come from the Facebook dating app, Are You Interested (AYI), which works like this: Users in search of someone for a date or for sex flip through profiles of other users and, for each one, click either “yes” (I like what I see) or “skip” (show me the next profile). When the answer is “yes,” the other user is notified and has the opportunity to respond. It’s very similar to another dating app, Tinder.

    The graphic shows what percentage of people responded to a “yes,” based on the gender and ethnicity of both parties (the data are only for opposite-sex pairs of people). Unsurprisingly, most “yes’s” go unanswered, but there are patterns: For example, Asian women responded to white men who “yessed” them 7.8% of the time, more often than they responded to any other race. On the other hand, white men responded to black women 8.5% of the time—less often than for white, Latino, or Asian women. In general, men responded to women about three times as often as women responded to men.

    Unfortunately the data reveal winners and losers. All men except Asians preferred Asian women, while all except black women preferred white men. And both black men and black women got the lowest response rates for their respective genders.

    Perhaps most surprising is that among men, all racial groups preferred another race over their own.

    AYI analyzed some 2.4 million heterosexual interactions—meaning every time a user clicked either “yes” or “skip”—to come up with these statistics. Its users skew older than Tinder’s—about two-thirds of AYI users are older than 35, according to a spokesperson.”

    White women responded most to white men and least to black men. In fact, black men got the lowest response from women of all races except black women.

    Here’s the link if you want to see the graphics.

  99. Excal says:
    @James Braxton

    William Gibson is not to be overlooked.

    This is a good challenge. It’s surprisingly difficult to think of even possibly great writers who fit both categories, and all the candidates seem to come from science fiction (perhaps this reflects my own reading habits? don’t know).

    Neal Stephenson seems a possibility, though he suffers heavily from the weaknesses of his time. Tom Clancy is good, but probably not great, although he exceeds the limits of his genre fairly often.

    Thomas Pynchon, Tom Wolfe and Phillip K. Dick weren’t born after the war. Michael D. O’Brien is Canadian, and perhaps not quite “great”. Vox Day has done some interesting work, I think; perhaps one to watch, though like Ezra Pound, it will take a very long time before his literary reputation can be stronger than his political one. John C. Wright is entertaining and good at what he does, but I don’t think that I could call him great — maybe he needs time.

    Perhaps it’s too early to say. Usually, greatness of this sort is only clear after many years. The opening chapter of Chesterton’s book on Charles Dickens is interesting evidence of that. This is why the Nobel Prize in Literature, being restricted to the living, can never be a solid indicator of greatness.

  100. @Old Palo Altan

    I agree that Piltdown Man explained it well.

    One of my favorite books is Lilith, but my Lilith is the novel by George MacDonald, who is a different writer than your cousin.

    Gjertrud Schnackenberg and Mark Helprin were both born after WWII and both are better than most of the recent Nobel winners (at least the ones with which I am familiar). Gene Wolfe, a Korean war vet, and (trust me on this) the cartoonist Schulz and the great radio preacher J Vernon McGee were at the Nobel level too for much of their careers.

    If they were going to give it to somebody like Dylan, they should have given it to Eric Rohmer or Ingmar Bergman first. I would think that if some successful Hollywood guy or gal had been lucky enough to have a Boswell we would have had a great work like the Life of Johnson , with our new Johnson being some successful and witty Hollywood fixture, published by now, but that does not seem to have happened. I was disappointed with the Orson Welles table talk books. Anita Loos was pretty good at what she did, though.

    I absolutely have to second the commenter who described Kristen Lavrandsatter as a great novel with maybe the best depiction ever in a long novel of what the author wanted to describe – in her case, the long life of a Christian soul – anima naturaliter christiana, sort of – with all the details that are so important.

  101. Rosie just came out of nowhere and made the entire thread shit itself. Spectacular. Hahaha.

  102. fitzGetty says:

    … that dig at JAN MORRIS is undeserved – Jan is a first rate writer – and she climbed EVEREST …

    • Replies: @Bill B.
    , @YetAnotherAnon
  103. fitzGetty says:

    … the reliable ever present Updike seems to have gone into eclipse …

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  104. Anon[106] • Disclaimer says:

    How does Jan Morris compare to Paul Theroux?

  105. fitzGetty says:
    @Luke Lea

    … on merit alone – and she climbed Everest …

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  106. I’ve become 100% anti-awards prizes/television spectacles. They are generally converged-to-the-point-of-parody nowadays. They provide captive eyes for preening SJW-writers/actors/lip-synchers for their various appeals for ($) causes.

  107. @Anon

    They were among the top literary travel writers at a time when I read a fair amount of travel literature. Theroux is kind of depressive and misanthropic, which gives him a clear eye, while Morris is cheerful and an old-fashioned romantic conservative about the glamour of, say, the British Empire at its peak at the end of the Victoria’s reign.

    • Replies: @Harry Baldwin
  108. @Mr. Blank

    I tried McCarthy and Pynchon several times and didn’t see what all the fuss was about. Long winded, deliberately obscure, etc. Tom Wolfe will be remembered more I think. I hope he lives forever.

  109. @fitzGetty

    Theroux is out of the Graham Greene school of depressing Third World visits, but in his most popular book The Great Asian Railway Bazaar, he keeps the entertainment level high enough that it’s hard to notice. Morris has a lot of Kipling, although perhaps less of the mordancy about empire that makes Kipling’s Man Who Would Be King his most influential work today.

    • Replies: @Anon
  110. Sam Patch says:

    Also, I would propose a “left field” (also, Joo) candidate for the prize: Stephen Dixon. For 50 years the guy has quietly been publishing a nearly monomoniacal account of the modern, urban, hyper sexual male constantly hemmed in by feminism, crime, mass architecture, academic clericism, etc. He’s published something like 30 books and 500 shorts.

    He’ll never win a Nobel in a million years.

  111. @fitzGetty

    It helps to make a late comeback like Hemingway with The Old Man and the Sea. Hemingway was massively influential in the late 1920s at making English language prose style less verbose. But then he got drunker and drunker. But he pulled himself together to write his fine fish story and was rewarded with the Nobel. (In general, the Nobel committees want to award people who are cogent and respectable and will put on a good show when they give their lecture. For example, John Nash had to recover from his insanity before he got his gong.)

    That gives Roth a chance. He started off strong, then frittered away his prime, then wrote many of his best books after he’d been written off as a has-been. But now the #MeToo stuff is likely to block him, just because his books make him sound like he’s got a few skeletons in the closet regarding women.

    Updike, in contrast, had a theory from his study of jocks, like his character Rabbit, that novelists had a career arc where they reached their peak in the middle of their careers and then decline (much like Bill James’ view of baseball players’ career arcs). Updike refused to stretch out the amount of years he worked on his books when he got past his peak, churning out one per year, so they declined in quality.

    Updike too was kind of an entitled dick around women (David Foster Wallace stabbed him in the back over this): women do like geniuses. So that didn’t help his chances before his death in his mid 70s.

    • Replies: @syonredux
    , @Bardon Kaldian
  112. NOTA says:

    Yep. The king of Sweden should remove all the drama-causing judges, and replace them with people who understand that the story needs to be about the author who won the award, not the drama among the judges.

    • Replies: @Bill B.
  113. In the current moral panic of #MeToo, the lucky ones are the guys who got exposed before the furor reached its peak–they got off relatively easy. I’m think of David Letterman, Chuck Berry, and a few others. They don’t seem to suffer as much opprobrium as the current crop.

  114. Simon says:
    @Jeff the Donleavy Fan

    I heard Goldberg interviewed by radio host Hugh Hewitt. He denied that lefty outrage on Twitter had anything to do with his decision to fire Williamson; he said, in fact, that tweetstorms were pretty much par for the course and had been expected. He said that in discussions with Williamson before he’d been hired, Williamson had made it sound as if his controversial tweet — about hanging women who’d had abortions — had been a one-off, written, perhaps overhastily, to make a point (i.e., that if one genuinely regards abortion as the killing of a human being, one logically ought to treat it as a homicide). Only later, Goldberg claimed, did he learn of the podcast — Williamson in conversation with Brown U. professor Glenn Loury — in which Williamson had said much the same thing. It was this second expression of his opinion — more or less affirming the tweet — that was, for Goldberg, apparently the dealbreaker. (Hewitt failed to probe this further; I wish he had.)

  115. @Steve Sailer

    After reading several of Bill Bryson’s books, I’ve concluded that the purpose of travel writing is to persuade you that you’re better off staying at home. Let someone else experience all the hassle and discomfort of travel and then tell you about it. Thanks to Bryson, I have given up all thought of ever hiking the Appalachian Trail or visiting Australia.

    • Replies: @PiltdownMan
  116. Anon[106] • Disclaimer says:
    @Steve Sailer

    I’ve read The Happy Isles of Oceania and The Pillars of Hercules by Theroux. I’ve read a lot of mountaineering accounts, many about Everest, including Walt Unsworth’s Everest. But not Morris’s book. Which of Morris’s travel books is most recommended?

    A really good but quirky book about Everest, pre-conquest, is Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory, and the Conquest of Everest by Wade Davis. Davis is a professional historian, unlike most mountaineering writers, and dug up diaries and a lot of primary source material nobody else had bothered to look for. His book covers the devastating effect of World War I on young English men in some detail, as well as incorporating a lot of material about Tibetan society. But it’s really thrilling to read about these Englishmen wandering around Tibet climbing unnamed peaks nobody had ever set foot on trying to find a path to Everest.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  117. @Anon

    Mallory was friends or friends of friends with the Bloomsbury set, and had a huge impact on literary people.

    Mountain climbing strikes me as by far the most literary field of sports. The number of well-written mountain climbing books is immense.

    • Replies: @Anon
    , @PiltdownMan
    , @Benjaminl
  118. syonredux says:
    @Steve Sailer

    That gives Roth a chance. He started off strong, then frittered away his prime, then wrote many of his best books after he’d been written off as a has-been. But now the #MeToo stuff is likely to block him, just because his books make him sound like he’s got a few skeletons in the closet regarding women.

    I can confirm that lots of female academics (Jewish ones included) absolutely loathe Roth.

    It helps to make a late comeback like Hemingway with The Old Man and the Sea. Hemingway was massively influential in the late 1920s at making English language prose style less verbose. But then he got drunker and drunker. But he pulled himself together to write his fine fish story and was rewarded with the Nobel.

    Across the River and Into the Trees (1950) is almost laughably bad…..which made The Old Man and the Sea (1952), as a comeback, all the more impressive…..James Michener read it in galleys, and noted how relieved he was to see that Hemingway had managed to recover some of his old prowess…

  119. Anon[106] • Disclaimer says:
    @Steve Sailer

    Peter Boardman was a well-regarded English mountaineer and writer.

    In the 1990s I found a ratty paperback copy of his book The Shining Mountain: Two Men on Changabang’s West Wall in a used book store, and read it. It was about an expedition with Joe Tasker, his frequent climbing companion, who also wrote a couple of books. They later joined with Chris Bonington and others to try to climb the North East Ridge of Everest, and Boardman and Tasker disappeared on the ridge.

    The paperback was signed by both Boardman and Tasker. At one point I found a mountaineering bookseller online and sent off an email. After an exchange of detailed photos of the book and signatures, he offered me $100 for it, to be further sold to a customer of his, and I accepted it.

    There is a Boardman Tasker Prize for Mountain Literature, sort of a mini Nobel Prize for this niche. The Shining Mountain had won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize in 1979. Maybe I should have asked for $150!

    The John Llewellyn Rhys Prize was a literary prize awarded annually for the best work of literature (fiction, non-fiction, poetry, drama) by an author from the Commonwealth aged 35 or under, written in English and published in the United Kingdom. Established in 1942, it was the second oldest literary award in the UK.

    Since 2011 the award has been suspended due to funding problems. The last award was in 2010.

    That annoying thing when your literary prize goes bankrupt! Someone should buy the rights to it just like Chinese companies buy the trademarks for defunct American companies.

    I suspect that the Man Booker prize (best original novel written in the English language and published in the UK) killed off the Rhys by being more diverse, inclusive, and politically correct.

    • Replies: @PiltdownMan
  120. Dave Pinsen says: • Website
    @the whole sick crew

    What else have you read by Pynchon? I liked Gravity’s Rainbow, but thought his 3rd lap breaker, Against The Day was bloated and not as good. Liked his short novel Bleeding Edge. Haven’t tried Mason & Dixon.

  121. Dave Pinsen says: • Website
    @Johnny Smoggins

    The best parts of Gravity’s Rainbow are worth a read. I started a Twitter thread posting them, but no one was interested. In fact, the whole novel holds together a lot better much better than most people realize, thanks to the ~150 or so pages of crap stuffed in. Pynchon is also relevant and was ahead of his time with his focus on deep state conspiracies. If he had it in him, the real history of this century so far offers plenty of material for another big novel (his normal sized novel, Bleeding Edge, was set in the early aughts).

    Tom Wolfe is almost in his own category. Maybe the only other novelist to capture the American zeitgeist in the last few decades is Jonathan Franzen, but unlike Franzen, Wolfe wrote about cultural moments before they happened, which is some kind of wizardry.

    • Replies: @Pericles
  122. Western says:
    @Bardon Kaldian

    ‘Nobel for literature, peace & economics should be abolished and prize for mathematics, technology/inventions & perhaps earth sciences or agriculture instituted.”

    Maybe some rich guy can fund a new literature prize or science prize if we actually need it.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  123. @Steve Sailer

    The number of well-written mountain climbing books is immense.

    As is the number of British travel writers who write well. It seems to be a thing with them.

    V.S. Naipaul’s non-fiction is often overlooked as, or is said to transcend, travel writing, but that’s exactly what it is.

  124. Western says:

    I can’t imagine reading Shakespeare in Russian or Chinese or any other language. It’s just not the same as you say. It’s not just the plot but the actual words used.

    • Replies: @J.Ross
    , @syonredux
  125. @Harry Baldwin

    Bill Bryson is the Dave Barry of travel writing.

  126. @Western

    There are new science prizes all the time, like the well-funded Millennium Prize and the Crafoord Prize that’s set up just like the Nobel Prize (e.g., the King of Sweden puts the medal around your neck) except almost nobody has heard of them.

    The Nobels have really good brand ID, and nobody else yet has quite figured out how to get in on that.

    The Field Prize in math has a fair amount of recognition and the MacArthur prizes, by being associated with the word “genius” have done well, but it’s hard to get off the ground in the media.

  127. @Anon

    I suspect that the Man Booker prize (best original novel written in the English language and published in the UK) killed off the Rhys by being more diverse, inclusive, and politically correct.

    After they gave the prize to Salman Rushdie they really started to focus on giving prizes that would please the Londonistan crowd. Not that some of the Commonwealth writers who’ve got the prize are bad, but the Bookers now aim to please a certain constituency.

  128. @Steve Sailer

    The Norwegian Abel prize in mathematics is held in as high regard by mathematicians as the Fields medal (which is for under-40s) but no one else knows about it.

    Poor John Nash picked up his Abel prize from the King of Norway some years ago, but was killed on the New Jersey Turnpike in an airport limo crash on the way home to Princeton from Newark airport. But the papers barely mentioned why he had been traveling.

    • Replies: @Seminumerical
  129. @Anon

    Theroux is pretty comparable to his idol V.S. Naipaul.

    • Replies: @Pericles
    , @Bill B.
  130. duncsbaby says:
    @Stan Adams


    Thank you, that was the best laugh I had all day.

  131. Mark Helprin’s novel A Soldier of the Great War has some wonderful descriptions of mountain climbing. If I was on the Nobel committee he would be short-listed.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  132. duncsbaby says:

    Put the homeless junkies to work in the fields.

  133. Pericles says:
    @Steve Sailer

    There are new science prizes all the time

    Note that the foremost of those act as feeders for the Nobel science prizes.

  134. Pericles says:
    @Dave Pinsen

    Tom Wolfe would be an interesting dark horse because of his unique sensibilities, but IMO he writes too self-indulgently. (Fiction, at least.)

  135. @Harpo of Wolli Creek

    Helprin’s Soldier of the Great War has some great descriptive passages.

  136. @Steve Sailer

    You have to take into account additional factors: narrowness & incomprehensibility. Apart from clearly political & “cultural statements” Nobel prizes (Alexievich, Dylan-Zimmerman), regular prizes to great or significant writers (Mann, Canetti, Hamsun, Hemingway,..) indicate there is something universal about these authors, although some, like Faulkner & Garcia Marquez are essentially regional mythographers. But, they are universal authors, too, and their local & regional associations are not such a big hurdle for average readers.

    Though they differ in their subject-matter & literary treatment, Updike, Wolfe (not old Wolfe), McCarthy, perhaps Roth.. are too “American”. In the global world of literature, they’re all parochialists, soaked in provincial Americanness very few readers in Europe, Latin America, Asia…find either enjoyable or relevant.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  137. @Bardon Kaldian

    Okay, but America’s not an insignificant subject.

    • Replies: @Bardon Kaldian
  138. @Steve Sailer

    Of course not, but most readers are clueless about baseball or American socio-cultural fads & anxieties. The same goes for an imaginary Hindu novelist writing about intricacies of caste system. Who knows, who cares….

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  139. @Bardon Kaldian

    It’s not like the American trends that, say, Tom Wolfe observed in the 1960s and 1970s and 1980s had no impact on the rest of the world.

    Similarly, I know a vast amount about the English class system from reading famous English writers because that’s what they write about all the time and they’re good writers.

    • Replies: @Bardon Kaldian
  140. @guest

    Once I started any one of The Border Trilogy I didn’t put it down until it was finished. I am in my fifties. How often does that happen with any book if one isn’t a teen.

  141. @Steve Sailer

    Tastes have changed & documentary value has diminished. Now, hardly anyone cares about Trollope, Thackeray, F.M. Ford or Gissing. Wolfe, essentially a satirical novelist, has much to offer to American readership; outside of US, most of his social & cultural references are incomprehensible or simply uninteresting. If Italo Calvino & J.L. Borges had not gotten Nobel, Wolfe’s prospects for it are miserable.

    And this goes for popular culture, too. Some American products are highly exportable (Gibson’s Passion & Apocalypto, Game of Thrones); others are barely noticed (Black Panther/Wakanda, Miley Cyrus, virtually all superheroes,..).

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  142. @Bardon Kaldian

    Rubio looks slightly mestizo to me and the rest of his family is mostly darker than him. I don’t think he’s 100% Conquistador-American.

    • Replies: @Bardon Kaldian
  143. @Steve Sailer

    Perhaps I’m too catholic in my racial tastes, but to me, Rubio is white. He’s not exotic enough to be considered “almost white”. But, so are Stalin & Mikoyan & Netanyahu, so I may be wrong on this issue…

    Phenotype is, in everyday life, more important than genotype.

  144. SFG says:
    @Pat Boyle

    There probably is some degree of biological attraction to rough and powerful mates, I would agree. There’s also an endorphin rush from the pain in a particular environment, and it seems to assuage guilt–look at self-cutters, or medieval flagellants or ascetics in India.

    That and with the pathologization of masculine behavior, well, making it a roleplay with a safeword makes it ‘just a game’ and hence the formerly forbidden fruit is now acceptable. But that has more to do with the recent popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey and its copycats–malesub/femdom romance novels are not popular among women from what I can see, though the theme seems popular in pornography (aimed at men).

    Making it ‘transgressive’ lets quite a few women who would be ideologically opposed enjoy being dominated. Not that I’m speaking from personal experience here… ;)

    OK, but what about submissive men? Eh, sometimes the wrong program gets turned on. Besides, a lot of the beta feminist guys probably think it’s the only appropriate relationship.

  145. Bill B. says:

    – Jan is a first rate writer – and she climbed EVEREST …

    He climbed Everest before he went to Morocco to switch to being a rather frumpy middle-aged woman.

    Reading about this even as a boy I wondered why he bothered: if is not as if he turned into Bridget Bardot or anything. And of course later we learnt that s/he is a lesbian.

    (In the article I read as a kid his former wife was said to endorse his restructuring; at the time I wondered how his children felt.)

    Still as a ‘woman’ s/he has been able to fly under the radar somewhat as a soft-reactionary.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  146. Bill B. says:
    @Steve Sailer

    Theroux is pretty comparable to his idol V.S. Naipaul.

    I respectfully disagree. Theroux’s travel writing is ok; although I have a limited appetite for the genre.

    But his novels are pretty weak. Compare Saint Jack to Bend In The River – both published in the 1970s – the latter is literature at a much higher level.

    Theroux has flair and is clearly quite smart but doesn’t really have much to say as a novelist: he simply hasn’t got the narrative drive. I read Kowloon Tong at about the time of the Hong Kong handover: what utter tosh; simply nothing there.

    (I also resent knowing as much as I do about the younger Theroux’s appetite for young African girls.)

  147. @Seminumerical

    Thank you. I had forgotten about that post by Steve.

    Re-reading the comments, it seems that they are consistently of high quality. At least, more so than of late. Over a period of a few years, I guess our contributions wax and wane in that regard, while Steve holds steady at the top of his game.

  148. Benjaminl says:
    @Steve Sailer

    For seven centuries…

    At this point, Petrarch sat down and opened his Augustine, and immediately came upon “People are moved to wonder by mountain peaks, by vast waves of the sea, by broad waterfalls on rivers, by the all-embracing extent of the ocean, by the revolutions of the stars. But in themselves they are uninterested.” [2]Petrarch fell silent on this trip down, reflecting on the vanity of human wishes and the nobility of uncorrupted human thought. When they arrived back in the village in the middle of the night, Petrarch wrote this letter “hastily and extemporaneously” – or so he says…

    Jakob Burckhardt, in The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy declared Petrarch “a truly modern man”, because of the significance of nature for his “receptive spirit”; even if he did not yet have the skill to describe nature.[9] Petrarch’s implication that he was the first to climb mountains for pleasure,[10] and Burckhardt’s insistence on Petrarch’s sensitivity to nature have been often repeated since.[11] There are also numerous references to Petrarch as an “alpinist”,[12] although Mont Ventoux is not a hard climb, and is not usually considered part of the Alps.[13] This implicit claim of Petrarch and Burckhardt, that Petrarch was the first to climb a mountain for pleasure since antiquity, was disproven by Lynn Thorndike in 1943.[14]

    The Legitimacy of the Modern Age by Hans Blumenberg describes Petrarch’s ascent of Ventoux as “one of the great moments that oscillate indecisively between the epochs,” namely between the medieval period and modernity.

  149. Gracebear says:

    Yes, a most wonderful three volume fictional “biography” of a Medieval Norwegian woman’s life. It has been read and cherished by several women I have known, from several different social classes and intellectual levels, mothers and non-mothers, and it has “spoken” to all of us. Sorry to write in such cliches— but it is an amazing, deeply moving work. I think of it so often as I continue to live through my long life, now at age 84. (I read it in my 2o’s.) Don’t let the difficult style translated from an archaic sort of Norwegian prevent you from getting into it. The portrait of Lavrans, the heroine’s father, is deeply moving. And the narration of Kirstin’s passionate, disappointing, loving, complicated marriage to her noble husband Erland rings so true. Life is like this! So complicated, confused, rich, hopeful, disappointing, and unfinished— even at the end. Relationships never really do get “resolved.” Read this great book— worth all the other Nobels for literature.

    • Replies: @Gracebear
  150. @Pericles

    I know, but he was an old-fashioned Tory at best.
    Yeats and the magnificent Hamsun were something a bit more dangerous.

    • Replies: @syonredux
  151. Gracebear says:

    A wonderful recommendation. But one need not be a believing Christian to enjoy and be enthralled by this great novel. I have never experienced faith (in spite of a Protestant background) and in fact am somewhat repelled by the asceticism of some kinds of Christianity, but can assure a potential reader of this great novel that it is about a human life, in all its fullness, and not only about a layperson’s religious life. Kristin’s parents, especially her mother, lead an extremely austere life (the mother’s excessive austerity a guilt-ridden reaction to pre-marital sex with someone other than the man who became her husband). A non-religious reader should not be turned off by the religious context of Medieval Norwegian Christianity as a background. The story is about a woman’s very human life, full of temptations, joys, errors, and delights. It is the story of a complete human being in all her depth and amplitude, and once read, it is unforgettable.

  152. Gracebear says:

    I would add that I was thinking of only the Nobel prize novels and novelists. For poetry, who could forget the incomparable W.B. Yeats or even the lesser talent of T.S.Eliot. I do think Kipling is a great writer too, of both prose and poetry.

  153. lavoisier says: • Website

    What’s really odd, though, is that a bunch of Scandinavians denied medals to both Ibsen and Strindberg…..

    Nothing odd about it. There is no group more self-hating than the Scandinavians–with the possible exception of Episcopalians.

  154. @fitzGetty

    James Morris got IIRC as far as the Western Cwm, but didn’t climb the Lhotse Face and of course didn’t summit.

    (He’s an interesting exception to the Blanchard sex-change dichotomy – stated he always felt female since childhood, but served in WW2 and fathered 5 kids before transitioning at 46. Divorced his wife (as a man) then remarried her (as a woman).)

  155. J.Ross says: • Website

    Are there any languages with a much bigger vocabulary than English? There must be, but all the major languages I have looked at are smaller, and if you follow foreign subtitling of English movies you often see a merciless elimination of shades of meaning, because the target language doesn’t have eight ways to say something. There are cases of the opposite happening, but that’s normally because of a concept that had not existed in English, and often manifests in compounds or affixes. The English worked at making vocabulary a class distinction, at the same time that increasing technical complexity in trades gave concrete need to have more words.

    • Replies: @middle aged vet . . .
  156. syonredux says:
    @Steve Sailer

    There are new science prizes all the time, like the well-funded Millennium Prize and the Crafoord Prize that’s set up just like the Nobel Prize (e.g., the King of Sweden puts the medal around your neck) except almost nobody has heard of them.

    The Nobels have really good brand ID, and nobody else yet has quite figured out how to get in on that.

    The Field Prize in math has a fair amount of recognition and the MacArthur prizes, by being associated with the word “genius” have done well, but it’s hard to get off the ground in the media.

    Prestige isn’t built in a day. Just look at the most illustrious unis in the Anglosphere: Oxford (12th century), Cambridge (13th century), Harvard (1636), Yale (1701)….

    What’s the most recent Anglo uni with real cachet? University of Chicago (1890)? Stanford (1891)?

  157. @Bill B.

    Morris didn’t climb Everest with Hillary and Norgay, he was the correspondent with the expedition (he probably climbed higher than any previous professional reporter). He wrote (IIRC) the Times of London story announcing the climbing of Everest that ran on the day of (?) Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation. It was taken as an auspicious omen for the new reign, and was seen as closing the door on the postwar depression and opening a “New Elizabethan Age.”

  158. Cormac McCarthy will not ever win the Nobel Prize in Literature and I’m going to share a quote with you that explains why. This quote is from a rare interview he did for the New York Times back in the 20th century.

    “There’s no such thing as life without bloodshed,” McCarthy says philosophically. “I think the notion that the species can be improved in some way, that everyone could live in harmony, is a really dangerous idea. Those who are afflicted with this notion are the first ones to give up their souls, their freedom. Your desire that it be that way will enslave you and make your life vacuous.”

    For the most part, McCarthy (to his credit) plays his cards close to his chest and lets the novels speak for him. But it’s clear from the rawness of his fiction, and this one direct quote, that he is not one of the ’68 generation in either his politics or his sensibilities. The same people who awarded the Nobel Prize to no-talent pinkos and one-hit-wonders like Dario Fo and Elfriede Jellinek are not going to give the prize to Cormac McCarthy.

  159. syonredux says:
    @Old Palo Altan

    I know, but he was an old-fashioned Tory at best.
    Yeats and the magnificent Hamsun were something a bit more dangerous.

    SJW critics disagree. I can’t tell you how many of my colleagues love to drone on and on about Kipling’s “disgusting racism” and “implicitly fascist” politics……

    • Replies: @Old Palo Altan
  160. syonredux says:

    I can’t imagine reading Shakespeare in Russian or Chinese or any other language. It’s just not the same as you say. It’s not just the plot but the actual words used.

    Lewis Carroll is the one that I wonder about. How on Earth would someone go about translating :

    Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
    Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
    All mimsy were the borogoves,
    And the mome raths outgrabe.

    • Replies: @Anon
    , @Old Palo Altan
  161. Bill B. says:

    Yes. It is strange of the Swedes have made such a fuss about being the Human Rights Superpower, or whatever, which no-one gives a toss about in the sense that everyone knows this is vacuous preening by a small country, yet have managed to f*ck up the thing that really is a shining beacon to the world – the Nobels.

    I now ignore the Nobels except for entertainment value. The mishandling of a sex case not directly involved the award committee shows they are going to be incapable of recovering from handing the prize to Obama and Bob et al.

    I looked at the official website and noticed that Sartre is listed as having won the Nobel with only a small mention inside that he rejected it. So it is a sort of #metoo award?

    (The hard Nobels I suppose still have value as a signal about locations of innovation but PC will probably weaken them too. I’ve never had the knowledge to judge the individual prizes.)

  162. Anon[198] • Disclaimer says:

    Probably with confidence as it’s not English.

    • Replies: @syonredux
  163. Ganderson says:

    Pynchon (fair disclosure- I’ve never read any of his stuff) was lampooned in a great episode of the Rockford files- Anthony Zerbe played the Pynchoesque friend of Jim’s, whose famous novel was called, if memory serves, Free Fall to Ecstasy. The recurring line was something like “great book- although I never quite finished it …”

    • Replies: @Jim Don Bob
  164. @syonredux

    Into what – English?

    • Replies: @syonredux
  165. @syonredux

    I’ve no doubt, and more power to him.

    But “implicit” is the operative word here, while Yeats and particularly the, I repeat, magnificent Hamsun were explicitly sympathetic to real fascism, and Hamsun to its most notorious incarnation, even after it was more than dangerous to be so.
    One of the few encouraging signs of sanity in recent times was the Queen of Norway’s support of a revival of both his work and his reputation. He is too great to remain ignored.

  166. @J.Ross

    I am guessing at this, but I think that Thai, Irish, and Polish have (for analogous reasons) vocabularies that track, in their immensity, fairly well with English.

    French is weird, it would have the vastness of English today but the liberals set up a brutal cosmopolitanilization of the language a couple hundred years ago, so that when you read, say, Rabelais or Chateaubriand, who predated the academization of French, after having spent time reading even really good writers like Balzac or Bernanos, you feel like you have made a trip to another (vaster) language altogether, in a way that does not happen when you go from Dickens to Jonson or from Tennyson to Chaucer. Just my two cents, of course nobody knows enough about various languages to have a reliable opinion on this question.

    • Replies: @J.Ross
  167. anonymous[484] • Disclaimer says:

    middle aged vet said – Bernanos understood the modern world much better than Hamsun, but Bernanos did not live into his 80s. “Real fascism” had no attraction for Bernanos, because he was a person who believed in his own civilization.
    Of course, all those guys are long dead, and what they fought for and fought against is long gone into the past. God wants us to support justice, and God is going to get what God wants, and to tell the truth a long dead scribbler like Hamsun is just not important to anybody. It is the truth that will prevail, and Hamsun, to the extent that he was at one point in his life a valiant and truth-loving Christian, would not want his elderly foolishness to be remembered.

  168. syonredux says:
    @Old Palo Altan

    Into what – English?

    I was thinking Japanese. How would a translator go about capturing the evocative qualities of Carroll’s made-up words:

    Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
    Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
    All mimsy were the borogoves,
    And the mome raths outgrabe.

    Take “slithy.” Note how it conflates “lithe” and “slimy.”

    • Replies: @syonredux
  169. syonredux says:

    Probably with confidence as it’s not English.

    But the words evoke meaning in Anglo ears. As I pointed out elsewhere, “slithy” conflates “lithe” and “slimy.”How do you translate that kind of wordplay into, say, Russian?

    • Replies: @Anon
    , @J.Ross
  170. syonredux says:

    And while I’m on the topic, what about strongly demotic writers like Mark Twain? How do translators cope with his mastery of non-standard English? I assume that they simply pick dialects in their own languages that seem roughly equivalent……but that requires a lot of delicate choices….

  171. Anon[198] • Disclaimer says:

    All words evoke other words. The translation of anything runs into this problem and if anything it’s less severe here.

    How do you translate that kind of wordplay into, say, Russian?

    Well, I don’t know Russian, but knock yourself out on this stuff:

    Варкалось. Хливкие шорьки
    Пырялись по наве,
    И хрюкотали зелюки,
    Как мюмзики в мове.

    • Replies: @syonredux
    , @syonredux
  172. @Ganderson

    The Rockford Files was a pretty good show. James Garner never looked like he was acting.

  173. syonredux says:

    All words evoke other words. The translation of anything runs into this problem and if anything it’s less severe here.

    How do you translate that kind of wordplay into, say, Russian?

    Well, I don’t know Russian, but knock yourself out on this stuff:

    Варкалось. Хливкие шорьки
    Пырялись по наве,
    И хрюкотали зелюки,
    Как мюмзики в мове.

    Judging by GOOGLE translate, something seems to have been lost:

    Cuddled. Cocktail Shawls
    They were poking around,
    And the grimaces were grunting,
    Like muamziki in mov.

  174. syonredux says:

    All words evoke other words. The translation of anything runs into this problem and if anything it’s less severe here.

    I would argue that Carroll’s use of invented words increases the level of difficulty….

  175. J.Ross says: • Website
    @middle aged vet . . .

    Thai is the only time I gave up learning a writing system. Check out the rules some time for written Thai, they are pretty drunk.
    Polish might be closest for the political reasons I suggested (also, I have always had the feeling that the Poles made their language more opaque as a way of defying occupiers, but enough written record survives to prove that this is not the case).

  176. J.Ross says: • Website

    Russian has a similar-but-different thing because Russians are in love with diminutives and their verb tenses work like Arabic or Chinese in that there is a definite past where something happened and then stopped happening, versus the present which is always bleeding into the future, and it has little affixes to distinguish buying a newspaper (like one might do every morning) versus buying the newspaper that announced the Kennedy assassination. So a skilled translator probably could reproduce the artfulness, but with totally different means and materials. It would still not really be the same thing. I wonder if Lear just comes across as dumb (and not silly) in another language.

  177. Pat Boyle says:
    @Haxo Angmark

    Which sort of thing do you mean?

  178. MBlanc46 says:

    The Nobel Prize for literature is and has always been a political prize. No loss is it disappears for good.

  179. MBlanc46 says:
    @Pat Boyle

    That is true. But politically anathema. If you worked for Google (or most other companies of any size) you’d be fired. Chimps, indeed.

  180. Well done Steve, the kiss of death eh, you just killed Tom Wolfe

    thanks a lot :-(

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