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Reflections of a working writer and reader



Humility or the Nobel Prize? You choose.

Acknowledging that writing is a solitary occupation, but publishing is a business based on celebrity, Sergei Lobanov-Rostovsky writes about the motivations of writers in The Kenyon Review:

Doris Lessing complained to the BBC this week that winning the Nobel Prize for Literature has been “a bloody disaster” to her career as a writer. She told Radio 4’s Front Row program that she has effectively stopped writing under the pressure of media attention: “All I do is give interviews and spend time being photographed.” This isn’t a new story: Saul Bellow once described the prize as “a kiss of death,” and several other writers have complained that the prize effectively ended their writing careers.

3 Responses to “Humility or the Nobel Prize? You choose.”

  1. Jim Murdoch says:

    Yes, when the news arrived that Beckett had won the Nobel prize his wife’s initial response was: “This is a catastrophe.” They didn’t attend the ceremony and went into hiding instead. Knowlson’s biography of him is well titled: ‘Damned to Fame’.

    jb says: Thanks for that, Jim. Something else I didn’t know.

  2. bloglily says:

    John, It’s very helpful to be reminded that what looks like success is often anything but. Thanks for this post, and the many good links in it. I particularly liked the “old french poet”‘s poem. –Lily

    jb says: There’s no success like failure. Who said that?

  3. bloglily says:

    Bob Dylan (or so google says):

    My love she speaks like silence,
    Without ideals or violence,
    She doesn’t have to say she’s faithful,
    Yet she’s true, like ice, like fire.
    People carry roses,
    Make promises by the hours,
    My love she laughs like the flowers,
    Valentines can’t buy her.

    In the dime stores and bus stations,
    People talk of situations,
    Read books, repeat quotations,
    Draw conclusions on the wall.
    Some speak of the future,
    My love she speaks softly,
    She knows there’s no success like failure
    And that failure’s no success at all.