Thursday, October 2, 2008

U.S. writers not up to Nobel snuff

Horace Engdahl,  secretary of the Swedish Academy that awards the Nobel prizes, says to AP that ''Of course there is powerful literature in all big cultures, but you can't get away from the fact that Europe still is the center of the literary world ... not the United States." He adds that "The U.S. is too isolated, too insular. They don't translate enough and don't really participate in the big dialogue of literature."  Normally I don't dignify that kind of silliness from the Swedish Academy with mention on Knowbodies, but Engdahl is an interesting departure from the norm;  European intellectuals generally acknowledge the preeminent  position of U.S.arts and letters and intellectual life, and reserve their disdain for American tourists, foreign policy, and crass consumerism. But for a Swede to dismiss the vast, multicultural literature of the U.S. as "insular," that is droll. The Nobel prize for literature will be announced next Thursday.

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