Nobel Academy: Le Clezio is cosmopolitan nomad

10th October 2008, Comments 0 comments

"He belongs to several cultures and has lived large parts of his life outside Europe."

Stockholm -- Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio, who won the Nobel prize for literature on Thursday, is a "cosmopolitan author and nomad" with European roots, the Nobel academy's permanent secretary Horace Engdahl told DPA in an exclusive interview.

Frenchman Le Clezio was "not a classical European author" but a cosmopolitan nomad, Engdahl said, adding: "He belongs to several cultures and has lived large parts of his life outside Europe." Le Clezio's writing was strongly influenced by this, he said.

He would have regarded Le Clezio as a "difficult author" at the beginning of the writer's literary career in the 1970s, Engdahl said. At that time, Le Clezio had been writing in the "French style": "As widespread at the time, his prose was rather forced," said Engdahl.

"But since then, he has come a long way and he has become an epicist whose novels can be read by everybody," Engdahl told DPA. "I would call his style caring."

Asked whether the award for Le Clezio matched earlier comments by Engdahl that Europe was the world's literary center, the academy spokesman said Le Clezio's roots were embedded in French literature.

"Le Clezio's way of traveling is typical of Europeans, when they identify with foreign cultures and describe these intensively," he said, adding Europeans aspired to the role of "the universal human being."

"I don't expect any controversy as a result of this award," Engdahl said.

In France, Le Clezio was widely appreciated as the country's leading contemporary author. "And the biggest controversy about a Nobel Prize winner is usually in his own country," he said, adding: "We saw that also in 1999 with (German) Guenther Grass."

The Nobel award comes with a 10-million- kronor (1.5 million dollars) prize. The academy cited him as an "author of new departures, poetic adventure and sensual ecstasy, an explorer of a humanity beyond and below the reigning civilization."

He was born April 13, 1940, in Nice. Roughly a dozen of his some 40 works have been translated into English. The most recent translation was The Wandering Star: A novel.


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