Obscure Nobel Prize Winners

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Which of these "obscure" Nobel Prize winners (the 30 least read on goodreads.com) is your favorite?

Poll Results

OptionVotes
1902 Theodor Mommsen 3
1960 Saint-John Perse 1
1917 Henrik Pontoppidan 1
1966 Nelly Sachs 1
1959 Salvatore Quasimodo 1
1974 Harry Martinson 1
1903 Bjornstjerne Bjornson 0
1984 Jaroslav Seifert 0
1944 Johannes V. Jensen 0
1966 S.Y. Agnon 0
1985 Claude Simon 0
1945 Gabriela Mistral 0
1937 Roger Martin Du Gard 0
1963 George Seferis 0
1926 Grazia Deledda 0
1939 Frans Eemil Sillanpaa 0
1977 Vicente Aleixandre 0
1908 Rudolf Christoph Eucken 0
1919 Carl Spitteler 0
1901 Sully Prudhomme 0
1931 Erik Axel Karlfeldt 0
1916 Verner Von Heidenstam 0
1904 Frederic Mistral 0
1904 Jose Echegaray 0
1906 Giosue Carducci 0
1910 Paul Heyse 0
1917 Karl Gjellerup 0
1922 Jacinto Benavente 0
1974 Eyvind Johnson 0
1911 Maurice Maeterlinck 0


justfanoe (Greg Fanoe), Friday, 13 December 2013 20:31 (seven years ago) link

I can almost 100% guarantee there are mistakes here because I compiled this by hand myself during lunch break.

I recently have become interested in exploring the works of obscure Nobel Prize winners. I made this a poll for the fun of voting, but anybody can discuss whatever obscure Nobel winners they like. Of the above, I've read:

1922 Jacinto Benavente (I read a collection of 4 of his plays, very mediocre)
1908 Rudolf Christoph Eucken (This was fine philosophy but very outdated)
1974 Harry Martinson (Aniara is amazing, one of the best epic poems I've read)
1906 Giosue Carducci (I actually really enjoyed his poems, his Hymn To Satan is pretty classic)

Plus I have at home books by Jose Echegaray, Frans Eemil Sillanpaa, Bjornstjerne Bjornson, Claude Simon, Grazia Deledda, and Maurice Maeterlinck that I haven't dug into yet.

justfanoe (Greg Fanoe), Friday, 13 December 2013 20:35 (seven years ago) link

I recently have become interested in exploring the works of obscure Nobel Prize winners.

And you are my hero

xyzzzz__, Friday, 13 December 2013 20:42 (seven years ago) link

Oddly enough, this list contains all 8 winners from the 4 years where they split the prize between two people.

justfanoe (Greg Fanoe), Friday, 13 December 2013 20:42 (seven years ago) link

Simon is the only one I've read.

xyzzzz__, Friday, 13 December 2013 20:43 (seven years ago) link

The three Danes and the one Norwegian are the only one I know. And Claude Simon. I've only read Johannes V Jensen's The Fall of the King, which is like, the greatest Danish book of all times, and you should all rush out and get it. Pontoppidan's Lucky Per was rereleased a while back, and got some tremendous reviews, including one from Frederick Jameson iirc. It's one of those novels I really ought to have read.

Frederik B, Friday, 13 December 2013 20:51 (seven years ago) link

I was just about to pull the trigger on The Long Journey by Jensen. Is The Fall of the King better? Hmmm. Pontoppidan is one who I often see show up in comparisons like "Why should we care about an award that has honored the likes of Henrik Pontoppidan over Tolstoy, Woolf, etc." I think he is the stand-by obscure Nobel Prize winner because he has a funny name.

justfanoe (Greg Fanoe), Friday, 13 December 2013 21:00 (seven years ago) link

have read only excerpts of mommsen's history of rome, but it's great. he used to be seen as the obvious heir to gibbon, but lack of availability/good english translations has hurt his reputation.

(The Other) J.D. (J.D.), Friday, 13 December 2013 21:01 (seven years ago) link

Here we are, Hymn to Satan by Giosue Carducci: http://allpoetry.com/poem/8492167-Hymn-To-Satan-by-Giosue-Carducci

justfanoe (Greg Fanoe), Friday, 13 December 2013 21:04 (seven years ago) link

I was just about to pull the trigger on The Long Journey by Jensen. Is The Fall of the King better? Hmmm. Pontoppidan is one who I often see show up in comparisons like "Why should we care about an award that has honored the likes of Henrik Pontoppidan over Tolstoy, Woolf, etc." I think he is the stand-by obscure Nobel Prize winner because he has a funny name.

― justfanoe (Greg Fanoe), 13. december 2013 22:00 (2 minutes ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

Using Pontoppidan as a strawman is pretty dumb, as he shared the price with Karl Gjellerup, who even in Denmark is completely unknown... Apparantly Pontoppidan was too radical to get it alone. This is the Jameson-essay I was thinking of: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v33/n20/fredric-jameson/cosmic-neutrality Boy it's long.

Frederik B, Friday, 13 December 2013 21:10 (seven years ago) link

Not on the above list because they have too many reads, I've also recently read "The Gentleman From San Francisco" by Ivan Bunin, which was excllent, and "Barabbas" by Par Lagerkvist, which I thought was pretty average

justfanoe (Greg Fanoe), Saturday, 14 December 2013 13:54 (seven years ago) link

Gabriela Mistral was the first female recipient of the nobel for lit.

enjoyable,sad,lyric poetry.

I have read hardly any of these.

tell it to my arse (jim in glasgow), Saturday, 14 December 2013 18:32 (seven years ago) link

I really want to read Mistral!

FYI, Selma Lagerlof, Grazia Deledda, Sigrid Undset, and Pearl Buck all won before Ms. Mistral.

justfanoe (Greg Fanoe), Saturday, 14 December 2013 19:02 (seven years ago) link

Also, she took her pen name from Frederic Mistral, also a winner of the prize and both on the above list.

justfanoe (Greg Fanoe), Saturday, 14 December 2013 19:03 (seven years ago) link

Doh I'm misremembering her being first,and currently only,Latin American woman to win the prize.

tell it to my arse (jim in glasgow), Saturday, 14 December 2013 20:15 (seven years ago) link

had to read a lot of Gabriela Mistral in elementary school Spanish classes.

the objections to Drake from non-REAL HIPHOP people (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Saturday, 14 December 2013 20:17 (seven years ago) link

i don't think i've read any of these but since finding out about Mommsen a few months back i've been v. interested in checking out his History of Rome

wee knights of the round table (Noodle Vague), Saturday, 14 December 2013 22:00 (seven years ago) link

Claude Simon isn't so obscure and he is a great writer.
Agnon in the Godfather of israeli writers and is awesome, after you are getting used to the ancient language.

nostormo, Monday, 16 December 2013 15:21 (seven years ago) link

I've read some Maurice Maeterlinck - he wrote the play Pelléas et Mélisande that both Debussy and Schoenberg subsequently based musical works on. Have read the Eliot translation of Anabase by Saint-John Perse too. So long ago though, I barely remember a thing about these.

karajan up the khyber (NickB), Monday, 16 December 2013 15:28 (seven years ago) link

Nostormo, I never would have put Simon (or Gabriela Mistral) on a list of obscure Nobel prize winners if I was personally putting it together, but by the criteria I used (lowest number of ratings on goodreads) they fit. I find it really hard to believe that Simon has less ratings than, say, Odysseus Elytis or Miguel Angel Asturias or Wladyslaw Reymont, but there it is.

justfanoe (Greg Fanoe), Monday, 16 December 2013 16:16 (seven years ago) link

three weeks pass...

Automatic thread bump. This poll is closing tomorrow.

System, Sunday, 12 January 2014 00:01 (seven years ago) link

only read the one claude simon novel which was a totally exhausting experience: one long unparagraphed block with upside down text, various untranslated (non french)languages, everything melting together into a phantasmagoria of some sort.

read a little bit of seferis, he shows up in miller's colossus of maroussi, from memory.

so: st-john perse, friend of valerie larbaud and 'surrealist at a distance' to quote breton.

no lime tangier, Sunday, 12 January 2014 01:10 (seven years ago) link

So, since above posts, I read Eloges by Saint John Perse, which was good not great and Fall of the King by Johannes Jensen which, as advertised, was excellent

justfanoe (Greg Fanoe), Sunday, 12 January 2014 02:37 (seven years ago) link

Really happy you liked Fall of the King. I really want to re-read it soon. Also, I got Pontoppidan's Lucky Per for christmas.

Frederik B, Sunday, 12 January 2014 10:35 (seven years ago) link

Frederick, feel like I missed out on important context by not being Danish, plus translation stuff, but the prose is beautiful.

justfanoe (Greg Fanoe), Sunday, 12 January 2014 12:49 (seven years ago) link

I don't know how important the context is, I don't really understand what is going on as well... Most of it the history is like, vaguely familiar from school. I think the historical stuff is forgotten by most Danes as well, exept the Stockholm bloodbath.

Frederik B, Sunday, 12 January 2014 14:42 (seven years ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll's results are now in.

System, Monday, 13 January 2014 00:01 (seven years ago) link

three years pass...

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DLs1gXyVwAAM4un.jpg

mookieproof, Monday, 9 October 2017 13:51 (four years ago) link

?

Anyway, Maurice Maeterlinck wrote a play called The Blue Bird, which was turned into a Shirley Temple movie. It's a little odd to see a purely 19th century writer living through the Hollywood era and past WWII.

Almost a month prior to the film's release, The Blue Bird was dramatized as a half-hour radio play on the December 24, 1939, broadcast of The Screen Guild Theater, starring Shirley Temple and Nelson Eddy. It was during this radio performance that a crazed woman made an attempt on Temple's life. As Temple was singing "Someday You'll Find Your Bluebird," the woman arose from her seat and pulled out a handgun, pointing it directly at her. The woman froze however just long enough for police to get to her. It was later discovered that the woman had lost a child on the day it was publicly stated that Temple was born and she blamed her for stealing her daughter's soul. What the woman did not know however was that Temple was born in 1928, not 1929.

Maeterlinck also plagiarized a South African writer on termites. (The original work, The Soul of the White Ant, was turned into a Living Theater-style radio play. I heard it once, it's a weird period piece.)

alimosina, Monday, 9 October 2017 19:48 (four years ago) link

three years pass...

Abdulrazak Gurnah is also a literary critic, having edited the Cambridge Companion to Salman Rushdie.

I don't *think* the Academy's Nobel committee would ever give someone the prize just to troll, but if they did…

— Kári Tulinius (@Kattullus) October 7, 2021

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 7 October 2021 11:45 (one week ago) link


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