Monday, October 06, 2008


"How gauche we Americans be.

At least in the eyes of the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, which awards the Nobel Prize for literature. That would be one Horace Engdahl, who last week sought to explain why no American has won that prize since 1993:

"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 proclaimed.

"The US is too isolated, too insular. They don't translate enough and don't really participate in the big dialogue of literature. That ignorance is restraining."

Do tell.

Well, it's also the case that good literature - like beauty - is often found in the eye of the beholder.

Just as it is true that the Nobel committee never recognized such great European authors as Marcel Proust, James Joyce or Vladimir Nabokov.

But when the subjectivity of literature gives way to the objectivity of the sciences - how does America fare then?

Quite well, as it happens.


* An American has won or shared the Nobel Prize in chemistry in all but one of the last 10 years.

* An American has won or shared the Nobel Prize in physics in eight of the last 10 years.

* An American has won or shared the Nobel Prize in medicine in all but one of the last 10 years.

And even in a "softer," yet still highly analytic, discipline:

* An American has either won or shared the Nobel Prize in economics in eight of the last 10 years.

Clearly, Americans are better at discerning how the world is - as opposed to how Europeans imagine it to be.

There's a lesson there."

All the Europeans have left is the world of imagination, so of course they defend it tooth and nail. Quick now, name a major scientific achievement, a polio vaccine, how's about smallpox, a landing on the moon, even a television fer chrissake, that the Euro's have brought us over the past century or thereabouts. Surrendering to socialism and radical islam isn't exactly something to brag about, so they retreat...Europe give real good retreat "literature". Making sure of course that the literature in question doesn't anger socialists or islamists. Then, when the real world intrudes they coming a' beggin' for help.

Let them keep their prizes in literature. Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel invented dynamite, all the more impressive since rumor had it he was dyslexic. Probably why he didn't read all that much literature.

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