Monday, November 05, 2007

The Last Anarchists

The Norwegian literary magazine Vinduet is celebrating its 60th birthday. The anniversary issue contains a number of items of interest, including a profile of the Swedish Academy's director Horace Engdahl, who is interviewed by Christian Kjelstrup. The Swedish Academy is, of course, best known for its annual awarding of the Nobel Prize for Literature, and Kjelstrup has some searching questions for the director, who is also the Nobel Committee's permanent secretary. At one point in a slightly defensive explanation of the Committee's work, Engdahl claims of himself and the committe members that "we are the last anarchists" - presumably in order to suggest an independence of thought and selection that is removed from current trends and fashions in literary taste.

Kjelstrup is not afraid to point out, however, that one major author who failed to receive the Nobel award was turned down on the grounds of his "anarchism". He was Lev Tolstoy.
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