One year after the scandal of sexual assault and the non-awarding of the prize, the Academy on Thursday October 10 awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature 2018 and 2019 to the Polish Olga Tokarczuk and the Austrian Peter Handke. But, has the Academy learned all the necessary lessons to restore its nobility at this price?
Olga Tokarczuk and Peter Handke. A woman, a man. This choice of parity seems relevant. In fact, it is mainly intended to take no risk, after two years calamitous following the discovery in November 2017 of sexual assaults perpetrated by Jean-Claude Arnault, the husband of Katarina Frostenson, member of the Swedish Academy.
With Takarzuk, the most widely translated Polish novelist in the world, and Handke, a prominent figure in German-language literature for 50 years, the Grail of Writers seems ready to sail back into more peaceful waters.
The Polish writer replaces in a way the winner of the "alternative Nobel", Maryse Conde , rewarded in October 2018 by a group of Swedish intellectuals. Born on January 29, 1962 to a family of teachers in Sulechow, in western Poland, Olga Tokarzuk is known for her unexpected worlds, oscillating between the real, the mystical and the metaphysical, between philosophy and ecology.
His latest work, The Jakob's Books, published in 2014 and awarded by the Nike, Poland's most prestigious literary prize, tells the amazing life of a historical figure, Jakob Frank, who thinks he is the Messiah ... Olga Tokarzuk, for its part, had to face death threats for " dirtying the reputation of Poland and Poles ", after questioning the myth of a tolerant and welcoming Poland.
The 57-year-old environmentalist and vegetarian writer also co-wrote Agnieszka Holland's feature film Spoor, based on her novel The Bones of the Dead, which was awarded the Alfred Bauer Prize at the Berlinale.
Peter Handke and Outrage to the public
Peter Handke, the Nobel Laureate in Literature 2019, is one of the most widely read and performed authors in the German-speaking world. Beyond his essays, stories and novels, he has gained great popularity with the public through his collaboration with Wim Wenders, the filmmaker of Ailes of Desire.
Strongly influenced in his youth by French writers like Georges Bernanos, Alain Robbe-Grillet and the New Roman, he lives today in Chaville, a suburb of Paris. He broke into the literary world very early in the early 1970s with The Anxiety of the goalkeeper at the time of the penalty and his piece Outrage to the public.
Peter Handke has long been revered for his ability to shape words and language as a material that is both heavenly, touching and unapproachable. One who has always dreamed of being universal, has often criticized the Nobel Prize as a useless pedestal: " It should finally be removed. It is a false canonization "which" brings nothing to the reader ". Today, he turned around and promised to fetch the prize in Stockholm.
At 76, this author, born of a Slovenian mother and a German father, has some controversies behind him. In the 1990s, he was one of the few Western pro-Serb figures and even dared to attend the funeral of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, for many the incarnation of crimes against humanity committed by Serbian troops .
His last piece, published in self-critical form in 2016, is called Les innocents, moi and the unknown at the edge of the departmental.
Awarding two Nobel Prize in Literature the same year could have opened new horizons and created a new dynamic. For example, awarding the most prestigious literary prize to an author from a previously neglected geographical or linguistic area.
Despite the promise of more diversity made in 1987 by the Academy, the Nigerian Wole Soyinka remains the only author of Black Africa to have been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature and one of four writers from all over the world. Africa, with the Egyptian Naguib Mahfouz (1988), the two South Africans Nadine Gordimer (1991) and John Coetzes (2003).