Posted tagged ‘nobel prize’

Celebrating Albert Camus

January 12, 2010

When people speak of existentialism philosophy, often one of the first names to spring to mind is that of Albert Camus. And no wonder! He was one of the leading figures in the field, not to mention a┬á Nobel Prize winner. So then it might seem slightly odd that he strongly rejected this label, saying, “No, I am not an existentialist. [Jean-Paul] Sartre and I are always surprised to see our names linked…” Where most people get confused is by the fact that Camus’ work had a closer connection with the rise of absurdism instead.

Just last week we remembered the 50th anniversary of Camus’ death, and in his wake he has left us with a wealth of philosophical and literary riches. Apart from the usual suspects that we’ve all come to expect in Camus’ list of influences, one that many people overlook is that of Saint Augustine of Hippo. In his studies, Camus had written a thesis focusing on the relationship between Greek and Christian schools of thought by comparing the writing of Plotnius and Augustine. It is important to note that while Camus publicly declared himself to be atheist, he was so influenced by the works of Augustine, that he came to accept that a “natural desire” for God and his salvation was normal in all people, himself included. To read more on this, have a look through his infloox page.

And for a little dose of humour, does anyone recall the field day that journalists had when they discovered that George Bush was toting around a copy of The Stranger while on holiday at his ranch in Texas? One spokesman had mentioned that Bush had “found it an interesting book and a quick read” and that he went on to briefly discuss the origins of existentialism with his aides. Take that as you will ­čśë

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Inside the mind of Herta Muller, 2009 Nobel Prize winner

October 8, 2009

The 2009 Nobel Prize for Literature has been announced and the winner is… Herta M├╝ller!

Wait, who? It’s a question that most readers across the English-speaking world have been asking today, accompanied by much head-scratching. The facts are that M├╝ller is a 56-year-old Romanian-born German author, whose award-winning writing focuses on the hardships in living under the harsh dictatorship of Romanian leader, Nicolae Ceau┼čescu. If you’re wondering why you haven’t heard of her, keep in mind that while most of her numerous works have been published in German, only a mere five have ever been translated to English.

M├╝ller spent over 30 years living in Romania. During her university years, she studied Romanian and German literature, and was a member of Aktionsgruppe Banat, a literary society that fought for freedom of speech. While German is her first language, Muller has also publicly stated that she finds Romanian to be a lot more poetic and poignant, and has derived much influence from its folklore and folk music.

In her working years, M├╝ller had several scary run-ins with the Securitate, the secret police group of Communist Romania – she was threatened, slandered, captured, interrogated, critised by Romanian press and eventually banned from publishing in her own country. Later, she made the move to Germany with her husband, Richard Wagner (also a writer), where she was allowed to publish without fearing censorship. Of her novels, she describes them as “autofiction”, meaning that while the facts are based on her real life and real experiences, the stories are crafted as fiction.

Today, October 8 2009, it was officially announced that Herta M├╝ller has won this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature, making her the 12th woman in 108 years to win this prize. The Swedish Academy commended her for her bravery and passion in relating the hardships suffered by an entire nation, saying that “with the concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose,┬á [she] depicts the landscape of the dispossessed”. The awarded prize is a whopping $1.4 million.

Learn more about Muller and her influences at Infloox.