Il n'y a rien à célébrer

Lors de la remise du prix d'État autrichien qui lui a été décerné, Thomas Bernhard entame ainsi son discours de remerciement* : "Il n'y a rien à célébrer, rien à condamner, rien à dénoncer, mais il y a beaucoup de choses dérisoires ; tout est dérisoire quand on songe à la mort."

"How do these people decide who are the greatest novelists and/or poets of the day on the international scene?", se demande Tim Parks, en songeant au prix Nobel de littérature. "And why should we ask them to do that?"

"Let’s try to imagine how much reading is involved. Assume that a hundred writers are nominated every year—it’s not unthinkable—of whom the jury presumably try to read at least one book. But this is a prize that goes to the whole oeuvre of a writer, so let’s suppose that as they hone down the number of candidates they now read two books of those who remain, then three, then four. It’s not unlikely that each year they are faced with reading two hundred books […]. Of these books very few will be written in Swedish and only some will be available in Swedish translation; many will be in English, or available in English translation. But since the English and Americans notoriously don’t translate a great deal, some reading will have to be done in French, German or perhaps Spanish translations from more exotic originals.

Remember that we’re talking about poems as well as novels and they’re coming from all over the world, many intensely engaged with cultures and literary traditions of which the members of the Swedish Academy understandably know little. So it’s a heterogeneous and taxing bunch of books these professors have to digest and compare, every year. […] Do we envy them this task? Does it make much sense?"

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Source : The New York Review of Books, 06/10/11

(* Ce discours a été publié dans Mes prix littéraires)