A blog on reading, writing and life

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Nobel Judge Yearns for Mythical Epoch When Writers Were Oliver Twist

Certain corners of the internet have been abuzz with the words of one Horace Engdahl, a member of the Swedish Academy and judge for the Nobel Prize in Literature. In an interview with French paper La Croix, Engdahl said that the “professionalisation” of the job of the writer, via grants and financial support, was having a negative effect on literature. “Even though I understand the temptation, I think it cuts writers off from society, and creates an unhealthy link with institutions,” he told La Croix. “Previously, writers would work as taxi drivers, clerks, secretaries and waiters to make a living. Samuel Beckett and many others lived like this. It was hard - but they fed themselves, from a literary perspective.”

Obviously, many people who work as professionals in the creative writing field have been writing rebuttals of this, but really I don't know why the bother. All one has to do is take a look at history to see how all writers of the past had quirky poverty level-careers that somehow granted them the energy for thankless and emotionally draining literary pursuits.

If it wasn't for Edith Wharton's hard knocks as a heiress, she would have never been the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize of literature. It is amazing she even found time to write between interior decorating and having tea with Teddy Roosevelt.

Aurthur Rimbaud's accomplished career being a narcissistic teenager allowed him to prefigure Modernist poetry and invent the French free verse. As he once wrote to Paul Verlaine, "Work is further from me than my fingernail from my eye. Fuck me. Fuck me. Fuck me. [...] You won't think I'm too expensive to feed when you actually see me eating shit." Hey Verlaine, your teenage lover already had three jobs: brat, poet AND extortionist. And Verlaine himself worked really hard to marry a rich woman.

Emily Bronte's years of experience as a shut-in inspired her passionate Gothic Romance. Ironing, sewing, refusing to speak to anyone outside her immediate family--you can really see how the revengeful anti-hero Heathcliff was born here.

Shakespeare never had to please any institutions. That's why he wrote 8 plays of straight-up Tutor propaganda, because usurping the English throne is evil, unless some guy named Henry does it. Plus, he traveled nearly 100 miles in his lifetime, all the way from Stratford to London, encountering English people of all cultures, which really helped him write all those plays set in Italy.

No comments:

Post a Comment