[ilds] Durrell and the Nobel

Kennedy Gammage gammage.kennedy at gmail.com
Tue Nov 1 11:59:06 PDT 2016

Thank you James. That’s a fascinating behind the scenes peek at how the
world’s preeminent literary honor is awarded. No offense intended, but part
of the problem is that the award is voted on solely by Swedes, the Swedish
Academy, instead of by a worldwide panel of worthy judges. Interesting that
Durrell was passed-over because of sex, as presumably Miller was as well.
Possibly because of the 50 year embargo, I have never heard Nin’s name
bandied about as a former candidate, but her diary is certainly a
noteworthy achievement in world literature.

Yes Bruce, I think Dylan can be accused of writing doggerel at times. I
cite one of his famous songs “Ballad of a Thin Man”:

Now you see this one-eyed midget
Shouting the word "NOW"
And you say, "For what reason?"
And he says, "How?"
And you say, "What does this mean?"
And he screams back, "You're a cow
Give me some milk
Or else go home”

Please note that song lyrics on the internet often have a “Submit
Corrections” button, as they are based upon listening and transcribing.
Obviously the last three lines above are directly applicable to the song’s
thesis. It’s the easy and somewhat random-seeming rhymes throughout the
song that I find objectionable.

However, the song's famous chorus validates why Dylan was chosen for the

Because something is happening
But you don't know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?

This is the so-called Zeitgeist argument for Dylan’s inclusion. Those lines
from 1965 are a clear signpost halfway through that crucial decade: Mr.
Jones is living in the past, while Dylan’s listeners were marching towards
the (uncertain) future.

I believe that’s why the Nobel Committee was shortlisting Tolkien for the
award – because he, in a very different way from Dylan, was also one of the
pillars of the sixties zeitgeist. I’m sorry they didn’t like his prose –
and in Durrell’s case I’m sorry they were sexual prudes. Tolkien and
Durrell were both two of our greatest storytellers.

Best - Ken

On Tue, Nov 1, 2016 at 11:42 AM, Richard Pine <pinedurrellcorfu at gmail.com>

> These were not the only years in which LD was in the running for the
> Nobel. When I visited him in Sommieres in 1988 he was waiting for news.
> When it came, he learned that Maguib Mahfouz had won the prize. He was
> entirely philosophical.
> RP
> On Tue, Nov 1, 2016 at 7:59 PM, James Gifford <james.d.gifford at gmail.com>
> wrote:
>> Hi all,
>> With the recent discussion around Dylan, I thought these prior comments
>> on Durrell and the Nobel might be of interest:
>> https://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/jan/03/swedish-academ
>> y-controversy-steinbeck-nobel
>> https://www.theguardian.com/books/2012/jan/05/jrr-tolkien-nobel-prize
>> James Clawson will present some detailed quantitative data on the Nobel
>> committee in Louisville this Spring, but in the meantime it's helpful to
>> see what kept the prize out of Old D's reach in 1961 & '62.
>> Cheers,
>> James
>> Sent from my iPhone
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