Le Clézio during a trip to Guadeloupe in October 2007. Posted on Flickr by "Le crédit voyage".
French writer Jean-Marie Le Clézio has just received the Nobel Prize for Literature. For blogger Guillaume Thouroude, the award is proof that despite "American sniggers", French culture is not dead after all.
"France has claimed a Nobel prize for literature almost every ten years for the past century"
Guillaume Thouroude wrote his thesis on travel writing for Queen's University in Belfast. He writes the blog La précarité du sage for French daily Le Monde.Is it not beautiful? Not brilliant? After the American sniggers over the supposed death of French culture [Time Magazine's November 2007 cover read "The Death of French Culture"], one of our great writers has bagged a Nobel prize. (...)
Well, there's no need to be astonished, it has to be said. France has claimed a Nobel prize for literature almost every ten years for the past century. Such regularity could perhaps surprise those who see a decline (but not provide the answer to everything, as it's nothing outstanding...). Here's a small reminder, decade by decade:
The 1900s: 2 prizes.
There, that should teach us as much about humility as pride. Each decade sees a Frenchman crowned, however dead or alive French literature is thought to be. Looking at these figures, you don't get the impression that French literature was that powerful in the thirties or in such a bad statetoday.
You'd also think by looking at it that the seventies were void, and that was one of the Stockholm jury's most extraordinary failures; that they managed to overlook an entire band of postmodern writer-theorists - Barthes, Foucault, Deleuze, Derrida - whose writing qualities had nothing to envy those of purely literary writers, if that says anything.
So Le Clézio - why not? He has everything going for him: he's the perfect son-in-law, he still carries the aura of a child genius who conquered both experimental and classical writing, and he's one of the most studied French writers outside France. So the Nobel prize will make a lot of people happy, and frankly, what's the problem with that?"