Posted by: W. E. Poplaski | October 1, 2009

Weekly Read-Along—October 2, 2009: The Case for Literature

Material for the Stout-Hearted Reader to Ruminate

♦ Essays, Lectures & Speeches ♦

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Gao Xingjian (1940 –) is a French author of several plays and novels including Snow in August, The Nocturnal Wanderer, One Man’s Bible, and Soul Mountain. He is originally from China but left in 1987 and eventually settled in Paris as a political refugee. Gao Xingjian became a French citizen in 1997 and won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2000.

This week’s text is Gao Xingjian’s Nobel Lecture, “The Case for Literature”, delivered on December 7, 2000 in Stockholm. In it he describes the roles of both literature and writers in society as being intimate and personal—

“What I want to say here is that literature can only be the voice of the individual and this has always been so. Once literature is contrived as the hymn of the nation, the flag of the race, the mouthpiece of a political party or the voice of a class or a group, it can be employed as a mighty and all-engulfing tool of propaganda. However, such literature loses what is inherent in literature, ceases to be literature, and becomes a substitute for power and profit.”

Join others from around the world in this weekly reading event! You can find Gao Xingjian’s text at this website:

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