Category Archives: Nobel Prize for Literature

‘It had been winter for God knows how long’ – ‘The Magic Mountain’ by Thomas Mann.

One of the best things about winter is the way it offers the perfect excuse for semi-hibernation, complete with self-indulgent eating, dozing and reading. It’s even better when the books you’re immersed in involve characters, in the depth of winter, … Continue reading

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Winter Escapism: ‘Growth of the Soil’ by Knut Hamsun

I very nearly didn’t pick ‘Growth of the Soil’ for my Nordic literature project.  I’d read ‘Hunger,’ which is probably Hamsun’s most famous work in England, and hadn’t enjoyed it much.  Then after the bleak misery of Laxness’s ‘Independent People‘ I wasn’t … Continue reading

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Losing yourself in a long winter read: ‘Kristin Lavransdatter’ by Sigrid Unset

A collection of three novels, and weighing in at comfortably over 1,000 pages, ‘Kristin Lavrandatter’ is what I call a hearty winter read.  It’s equally weighty in terms of literary pedigree: Sigrid Unset was awarded the Nobel for literature in 1928 (the third … Continue reading

Posted in Nobel Prize, Nobel Prize for Literature, Nordic literature, Reading Big Books, Reading in translation, Sidrid Unset | Tagged , , , | 16 Comments

A Bleak and Chilling Icelandic Epic: Independent People by Halldór Laxness (1934-5)

I’ve got my Nordic winter reading off to a fine start with this monumental novel by Icelandic Nobel Literature laureate Halldór Laxness.  It delivered everything I was hoping: from snowstorms and sublime landscapes to an insight into the culture of a … Continue reading

Posted in Halldór Laxness, Nobel Prize, Nobel Prize for Literature, Nordic literature, Reading in translation | Tagged , , , | 13 Comments

Dark and Disturbing: ‘The Piano Teacher’ by Elfriede Jelinek (1983)

It’s very hard to know where to start with reviewing Jelinek’s ‘The Piano Teacher’; it’s one of those short books that contains such explosive force that once the book has been opened and read it seems impossible to pack the subsequent barrage of … Continue reading

Posted in Elfreide Jelinek, Nobel Prize for Literature, Reading in translation | Tagged , , , , | 16 Comments

Nobel prize for literature revisited, or, why I love Bob Dylan

Last September I wrote an unusually irritable post about the Nobel prize for literature.  Some of this was sour grapes (I don’t like feeling so poorly read when scanning lists of world-class writers).  Some of my complaints though, stemmed from genuine confusion; I … Continue reading

Posted in Bob Dylan, Nobel Prize for Literature | Tagged , , , | 20 Comments

Russian Reading Finale: ‘Doctor Zhivago’, oh dear.

I’ve come to the end of an incredible year of Russian reading and, I’ve got to say, I’m very proud of myself.  I didn’t feel this congratulatory earlier, because there’s nothing really impressive about reading lots of great books.  I’ve … Continue reading

Posted in Nobel Prize for Literature, Reading in translation, Russian Reading | Tagged , , | 21 Comments

Russian Reading Update: Learning about the Don Cossacks from Sholokhov

My goodness, but Sholokhov is little known in the UK.  He’s not even been included (yet) in the Alma classics and NYRB’s new publications of lesser-known Russian greats.  Even with the help of the internet, it still wasn’t that easy … Continue reading

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Poem of the Month: ‘A Soft October Night’ in ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’ by T S Eliot (1917)

This may be a difficult post for me to write.  I get so emotionally involved in ‘The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock’ that reading it tends to leave me drained and agitated, unable to read anything else of lesser worth … Continue reading

Posted in Nobel Prize for Literature, Poem of the Month, T S Eliot | Tagged , , | 13 Comments

And the 1933 Nobel Prize for Literature goes to … Ivan A Bunin!

Ivan Bunin is one of those Nobel Laureates who appear to be depressingly unknown outside (and maybe even inside) their home countries.  It may not have helped that Bunin was resolutely ‘White’, representing the opposition to the Bolshevik (Red) forces who … Continue reading

Posted in Ivan Bunin, Nobel Prize for Literature, Reading in translation, Russian Reading | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments