Alfred Nobel gave his last name to one of the most prestigious literature prizes today. He specified that the award should go to ‘the person who shall have produced in the field of literature the most outstanding work in the ideal direction’ (Cited in Danson & Gupta, 2005) Over the years the criteria the prize was awarded on kept on changing along with the changing times.
“In 1964, the French philosopher, novelist and playwright Jean-Paul Sarte voluntarily declined the Nobel Prize.” (Danson and Gupta, 2005, p.212) The prize for the best novel of the twentieth century will follow guidelines that perhaps even Sartre would consider just and accept the prize if it were offered to him.
Today, the Nobel Prize is regarded as one of the highest honors in literature but there was a period in history when Sartre’s refusal threatened its universality of honor. Five years later, Samuel Beckett received the award and the Nobel Prize gained back some of its authority as a universal honor. Becket had contemplated whether he should accept the award or not because he realized the recent controversy arisen by Sarte’s rejection but did not want to simply mimic his actions. (Danson & Gupta, 2005, p.213-4)
“The Booker Prize was launched in 1968 to provide a benchmark for the ‘best of contemporary British fiction’ by awarding a prize for what was deemed to be, in the joint opinion of the judges selected by the management committee, the most outstanding novel by a ‘British or Commonwealth writer’ in any given year.” (Danson & Gupta, 2005, p. 295) Tom Maschler found the booker prize and can be viewed as a successful marketer of his time. His goal was to ensure that serious British fiction gains market share through public relation-ing efforts, specifically, the use of touch programs. He did for books back in the 1960’s for books, what people do for movies now: create a lot of hype before the release date, a lot of publicity, and going big at the box office. Stated by Iyer in 1993, “the Booker [had become] London’s way of formally commemorating and coronating literary tradition … the closest thing in writing to the movies’ Academy” (cited in Danson & Gupta, 2005, p. 295)
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