Friday, June 10, 2011

Nobel Literature Prize: Ambiguity Par Excellence?

Even though the rules of awarding the Nobel Literature Prize are full of ambiguous stipulations, has it ever denied worthy contenders?

By: Ringo Bones

By an overwhelming margin, most Nobel Literature Laureates are seldom – if ever – remembered by the public-at-large more than three months after receiving their famed prize. Not only that, a growing number had been clamoring for better clarification of the ambiguous stipulation in Alfred Nobel’s original will with regards to the Nobel Literature Prize.

Stipulated in Alfred Nobel’s original will governing the rules of awarding the Nobel Literature Prize was originally interpreted as embracing not only writings in the field of belles-lettres (i.e. beautiful writing of aesthetic merit), but also of other works provided they possessed literary merit. Given this rather still-ambiguous clarification, does this mean that cleverly-worded adverts and consumer-electronic instructional manuals – especially ones that “mere mortals” can easily understand – are eligible for a Nobel Literature Prize?

Not only that, there also seems to be an ambiguity in the cut-off period of awarding the Nobel Literature Prize because the executors of Alfred Nobel’s original will also stipulated that the phrase “during the preceding year” should be interpreted to mean that “the awards shall be made for most recent achievements on the fields of culture referred to in the will, and for older works only if their significance has not become apparent until recently.” Does this mean that one of the greatest English bards of all time – William Shakespeare – could get a posthumous Nobel Literature Prize? Or what about Robert Burns who, sadly, never got the fame he deserved from his brilliant literary works during his lifetime? We live in hope.

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