Friday, October 10, 2008

La grande vie

And the Nobel Prize for Literature goes to . . . J.M.G. Le Clézio / Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio (b. 1940).

Snippets from a telephone interview conducted yesterday by Adam Smith of --

Le Clézio: [W]riting for me is like travelling. It's getting out of myself and living another life; maybe a better life.

Smith/Nobel: That's nice. People often say that reading is like travelling, but writing, also, that's nice.

Le Clézio: Yes, both go together for me. I enjoy very much being in a foreign country, in a new country, new place. And I enjoy also beginning a new book. It's like being someone else.

Smith/Nobel: You write about other places, other cultures, other possibilities a great deal, and in particular you've written a book about the Amerindians. What is particularly appealing about their culture?

Le Clézio: Well, it's probably because it's a culture so different from the European culture, and on the other hand it didn't have the chance of expressing itself. It's a culture which has been in some ways broken by the modern world, and especially by the conquests from Europe. So I feel there is a strong message here for the Europeans . . . I am European essentially. So, I feel there is a strong message here for the Europeans to encounter this culture which is so different from the European culture. They have a lot to learn from this culture; the Amerindian cultures.

Smith/Nobel: You also write about the colonial experience a lot. Do you feel it's important for modern European culture to examine its past in this way?

Le Clézio: Yes, because I feel, it's my feeling that the, Europe, and I would say also the American society are --- it owes a lot to the people that submitted during the colonial times. I mean the wealth of Europe comes from sugar, cotton, from the colonies. And from this wealth they began the industrial world. So they really owe a lot to the colonized people. And they have to pay their debts to them.

Smith/Nobel: The wide range of your writing is unclassifiable, but is there some unifying purpose in why you write?

Le Clézio: Mainly would be to be true to myself, to express myself in the most accurate way. I feel that the writer is just a kind of witness [to] what is happening. A writer is not a prophet, is not a philosopher, [a writer is] just someone who is witness to what is around him. And so writing is a way to . . . it's the best way to testify, to be a witness.

My sentiments, exactly. Congratulations, Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio.

Today's Rues: Disruption; Fertility.


Anonymous said...

He's wrong, of course, about writers not being prophets or philosophers. Poetry, in fact, is the highest form of philosophy.--Solomon

Charles Gramlich said...

I like the idea that writing is like traveling. I think that's true.

Brian Barker said...

The fact that a French-man won the Nobel Prize for Literature will certainly annoy the anglophiles. After all, everyone now accepts that English is the international language.

I apologise for the satire, but speak as a native English speaker. Then, if English is unacceptable, on grounds of linguistic imperialism, what about Esperanto?

Yes Esperanto was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for Literature, in the name of Icelandic poet Baldur Ragnarrson.

This is true. Esperanto does have its own original literature. Please check to confirm.