Historical! Borges receives a symbolic Nobel Prize in Literature

Borges was awarded with the Nobel Prize in Literature, 32 years after his death

Historical! Borges receives a symbolic Nobel Prize in Literature

Leer en español: ¡Histórico! Borges recibe Premio Nobel de Literatura simbólico

On Wednesday, October 10, the Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges was awarded posthumously with the Nobel Prize in Literature. The award is symbolic, of course, because this year the Swedish Academy announced that it would not be awarded the Nobel due to the scandal of sexual abuse of the husband of Katarina Frostenson, one of its members.

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"The events that are public knowledge have shown the crisis that seizes the institution that historically was in charge of awarding the prize, depending on it, and can not under any pretext allow this year the Prize to be declared void (… ), an International Committee of Writers assumes the responsibility of delivering the Nobel Prize in Literature 2018 to Jorge Francisco Isidoro Luis Borges Acevedo". This was stated by the Argentine actor Esteban Feune de Colombi, within the framework of the International Literature Festival of Buenos Aires (FILBA).

Borges and the Nobel Prize in Literature

Jorge Luis Borges once said about the Nobel Prize in Literature: "It's an old Scandinavian tradition: they nominate me for the prize and give it to someone else, and that's a kind of rite." In 1979, journalist Gómez Fuentes asked Borges if it bothered him not to receive the international award once again, the Argentine writer said: no.

On the contrary, he explained, "they show me an order in the world, since every year they propose me, every year they forget me, and that is proof of a certain symmetry, proof of a cosmic order". For him, the world continued with that tradition and he continued "with that tradition too, which corresponds to the month of October". Borges made fun of this, and even in the same interview he said he felt a certain relief of not receiving the prize.  

In 1986 Borges died. He was one of the most outstanding writers worldwide and one of the most famous to win the Nobel Prize in Literature while he lived. Although he was awarded with the Miguel de Cervantes Prize in 1979, the writer of The Library of Babel was never awarded with the Prize that the Academy awards each year, which is always announced in October.

However, more than 30 years later, Borges was awarded posthumously by a group of writers from many parts of the world, made up of five Latin Americans, among other writers. According to Reuters, they are the Mexican Cristina Rivera Garza, the Uruguayan Fernanda Trias, the Brazilian João Paulo Cuenca, the Venezuelan Leo Felipe Campos and the Argentine Alberto Manguel.

Among them also stand out the French writer Catherine Millet, who was one of the opened the event, and the English writer Irvine Welsh. Many media, and even the FILBA in a Twitter publication, attribute this event to a way to settle a historical debt and to rebel against the decision of the Academy not to deliver this year the Nobel Prize in Literature.


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Why Borges never won the Nobel Prize in Literature?

Many are the theories of why Jorge Luis Borges never received the Nobel Prize in Literature, despite having been nominated so many times and being one of the most emblematic literary voices in the world. In 1967, and according to Infobae, the Argentine writer was one of the strongest candidates to be awarded with the highest literary prize internationally.

"He was one of the 'serious' candidates to win it, along with Graham Greene, but that mention came from Guatemalan Miguel Angel Asturias." With the passage of time, Borges became the "eternal nominee". In 2016, according to the ABC media, Borges' widow, María Kodama, argued in "a commemorative act for the thirty anniversary of her death" that: "Everyone knows it is a political issue."

However, in a document published on the website of the Swedish Academy, it is explained that the reason why Borges was not chosen as Nobel Prize for Literature is because he was "too exclusive or artificial in his ingenious miniature art". That was the argument of the Swedish writer Anders Osterling, who at the time was at the head of the juries.

LatinAmerican Post | Diana Rojas Leal
Translated from "¡Histórico! Borges recibe Premio Nobel de Literatura simbólico"

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