Why is the Nobel Prize in Literature almost always given to a novelist, never a scientist? Why should we prefer our literature to be about things that didn’t happen? Wouldn’t, say, Steven Pinker be a good candidate for the literature prize?
September 12, 2013
Richard Dawkins is in the news a lot these days. Here's an idea he tossed out in an interview:
Nonfiction writers who won the Nobel Prize in Literature include politician / journalist Winston Churchill, mathematician / philosopher / journalist Bertrand Russell (those late Victorians could really write), German historian of Rome Theodor Mommsen, Henri Bergson (philosopher), and R.C. Eucken (an idealistic philosopher whom I'd never heard of).
Other winners who did both creative and well-known nonfiction writing include Jean-Paul Sartre (best known as a philosopher, although he was an entertaining novelist as well), Alexander Solzhenitsyn (whose most recent book before his prize, The Gulag Archipelago, was nonfiction after three novels), Elias Canetti (whose most famous books are a long autobiography, a novel, and a nonfiction study of crowd behavior), Czesław Miłosz (poet and essayist), George Bernard Shaw (dramatist and prominent critic and controversialist), Andre Gide (novelist and essayist), Albert Camus (novelist and essayist -- somebody recently put forward the argument that Camus was the better philosopher and Sartre the better novelist), and V.S.. Naipaul (novelist and travel writer).
But no science writers to speak of.
By Steve Sailer on 9/12/2013