Saturday, October 09, 2004

Nobel Prize for Literature

Nobel Prize for Literature goes to a controversial Austrian writer.

Nobel literature prize

Vienna's Die Presse says Austria's Elfriede Jelinek is a deserving winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature.

While Nobel prize winners often tend to be merely "average" because of the compromises involved in the choice, the paper says, Ms Jelinek measures up to the greats in world literature.

But it notes that her critics regard her as "incorrigible" and "obstinate" in ideological terms.

"If your focus is sufficiently narrow," the paper concedes, "it is relatively easy to reproach Elfriede Jelinek over these negative characteristics."

But her mastery of language and of self-irony make it impossible to argue against the award, it concludes.

Also in Vienna, Der Standard questions the idea that Ms Jelinek's award represents a triumph for Austria.

The paper notes that the writer does not wish the award to have any significance for Austria, because of what she described as her "complete distance" from the government.

It points out that for decades the country's economic and political elite have kept their distance from the writer, too.

"So why should a woman whom people would have loved to banish stand up for Austria?" it asks.

The jury gave the award to a woman who does not mince her words, except to spit them out in your face
Tribune de Geneve

The paper describes Elfriede Jelinek as "probably the most difficult writer in the German language world" whose treatment of the situation of women marks her out from other authors.

In Germany, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung calls the award "a big surprise", noting that the writer sees continuing undercurrents of fascism in Austria society.

"It is therefore unsurprising that Elfriede Jelinek's books are highly controversial," the paper observes, "and that, in particular in her own country, the author is less celebrated than insulted."

The paper's says the Nobel committee made "a good choice" because it would have been hard to find a more radical or challenging author.

The French daily Liberation feels that with their choice of Elfriede Jelinek the Nobel jurors "have redressed the balance of an award which is very masculine, surprisingly for a literary circle so careful to be politically correct".

According to the Swiss Tribune De Geneve , the Nobel jury "passed over other more comfortable authors, and gave the award to a woman who does not mince her words, except to spit them out in your face".

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Rare Aesop book sells for £16,675

A 15th Century copy of fables by Aesop, the mythical pre-Christian story-teller has been sold at auction for £16,675.

The edition of Aesop's Vita et Fabulae - Life-story and fables - was published in Italy in 1497 and is one of only three known to exist.

The estimated sale price was estimated at between £2,000-£3,000, but finally closed at £14,500. A buyer's premium was added to the cost.

The buyer was named as antiquarian book sellers Quaritch.

'Hare and tortoise'

They saw off top American trader David Waxman in what was described as an Aesop-style bidding war in which the roles were reversed.

Auctioneer Chris Albury, from Dominic Winter Book Auctions in Swindon, said: "We had a 'hare and tortoise' bidding situation and, unlike Aesop's famous fable, the hare won.

"The tortoise was an American who was very, very slow all the way through, but the UK bidder came in late and quick and won on the day."

The book has four pages missing from the back owing to a "binder's error", which detracted from its value.

Until recently only two copies of this edition were listed on an official bibliography of 15th Century Literature.

One of those is in Milan, and another in Florence. One of these copies is perfect, while the other has just one page missing.

The third was discovered when Anthony Crane, the Bath-based grandson of Walter Crane, the Victorian illustrator arranged to sell items from his private library.