Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Le Clezio In the forest of paradoxes

Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio delivered his Nobel Lecture on the 7th December 2008, at the Swedish Academy in Stockholm. He was introduced by Horace Engdahl, Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy. The lecture was delivered in French.
Photo: Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio, like many Nobel Laureates before him, autographs a chair at Kafé Satir at the Nobel Museum in Stockholm, 6 December 2008.

Here are a few selected highlights. He discussed why he writes, and his own experience as a reader and writer, as a child and later in life. He addressed the topics of globalisation and access to information, and the roles of a writer as a guardian of language, as witness and the desire to change the world.
To read the full lecture, see the Nobel Prize website.

"Why do we write? I imagine that each of us has his or her own response to this simple question. One has predispositions, a milieu, circumstances. Shortcomings, too. If we are writing, it means that we are not acting. That we find ourselves in difficulty when we are faced with reality, and so we have chosen another way to react, another way to communicate, a certain distance, a time for reflection."

"We live in the era of the Internet and virtual communication. This is a good thing, but what would these astonishing inventions be worth, were it not for the teachings of written language and books? To provide nearly everyone on the planet with a liquid crystal display is utopian. Are we not, therefore, in the process of creating a new elite, of drawing a new line to divide the world between those who have access to communication and knowledge, and those who are left out?"

"For all his pessimism, Stig Dagerman's phrase about the fundamental paradox of the writer, unsatisfied because he cannot communicate with those who are hungry—whether for nourishment or for knowledge—touches on the greatest truth. Literacy and the struggle against hunger are connected, closely interdependent. One cannot succeed without the other. Both of them require, indeed urge, us to act. So that in this third millennium, which has only just begun, no child on our shared planet, regardless of gender or language or religion, shall be abandoned to hunger or ignorance, or turned away from the feast. This child carries within him the future of our human race. In the words of the Greek philosopher Heraclitus, a very long time ago, the kingdom belongs to a child."

J.M.G. Le Clézio, Brittany, 4 November 2008

Three minutes of the lecture on video.

Text translated by Alison Anderson. © THE NOBEL FOUNDATION 2008.
Photo: Christine Olsson. Copyright © The Nobel Museum
Film Copyright © Nobel Web AB 2008. Credit Ladda Productions AB (camera).

1 comment:

Mike French said...

Sounds an interesting man.

Great article title!