Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Tainted winners, tainted prizes

We've had the 2006 MacArthur Fellows announcement. Winners of the Nobel prizes in Economics, Medicine, and Science. Coming in the next few weeks (just in the literary arts) we'll have winners of - "the National Book Award, the Man Booker Prize, the Prix Goncourt (France) and the Cervantes Prize (Spain)." And tomorrow, the Nobel Prize in literature.

Philanthropy's history has always been marked by questions of "dirty money." Did John D. Rockefeller endow his Foundation to distract the public from the anti-trust hearings (a century later, the same was being asked of Bill Gates)? Was Alfred Nobel, inventor of dynamite, making up for the lives lost in South African mines by endowing his eponymous prizes?

But now, since Gunter Grass's (who won the Nobel in literature in 1999) has come clean about his activism with the Nazis as a young man we have a new twist on the question of dirty - what about "dirty winners?" George Rafael takes a good look at this phenomenon - and opens the door on dirt on all kinds of literary figures - over at Salon (subscription needed)

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