Friday, October 09, 2009

L'Affaire Nobel

Leave it to me to complain about something right before something related to it gets really controversial. For example, I groused about another "Continental nullity" (I said that elsewhere) getting the Nobel Prize in Literature the day before President Barack Obama was given the Nobel Peace Prize, for which he was nominated no later than ten days into his presidency. One commentator has remarked that the level of prestige afforded the Prizes does not necessarily comport with the reality they represent, and she paused to comment on my stalking horse:
The same, I'm afraid, is true of the Nobel Prize in literature, which is selected by Swedish judges. Sweden is a larger and more cosmopolitan place than Norway. Nevertheless, almost without fail, the Nobel laureate turns out to be an obscure writer, usually European, whose works are hardly known outside of a few German-speaking and Germano-centric countries.
Anne Applebaum, Who Cares Who Wins The Nobel Peace Prize?, Slate (October 9, 2009).

While I am happy that President Obama has gotten the Peace Prize (just as I would have been happy had President Bush gotten it while he was in office), I cannot help but think that the Norwegians have missed the point of the rise of Barack Obama and concentrated on the fact that he's not George W. Bush. Which is really too bad, since that does a disservice to both men and their respective accomplishments to date.

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