D. Dimiroulis: ‘Societies get what they deserve’

Discussion in a public forum about any kind of literary prize becomes an exercise in hypocrisy, unbearable moralizing and didacticism. Objections note the composition of the jury, the childish suspicion that not all the works submitted were read, the usual awards to some writers and rejection of others, and the usually non-existent thinking behind the decision. Just to be sure, it is often mentioned that great literature has no need of awards. Indeed, literature as a personal act of dedication to writing and a wager on the meaning of life and man’s destiny does not need the crutches of an award. Public trafficking Once literature itself as an institution enters the sphere of publishers, critics, book presentations, readers and advertising, then it becomes totally dependent on awards. Every kind of competition – from the highest and most noble to the lowest and most tampered with – is part of a public trafficking in literature to stuck-up writers and critics conspiring about when they are to get an award; journalists who are forever complaining willingly participating on juries; prize winners modestly remain silent and pocket their award; and those who are rejected rant until it’s their turn at last. Every society has the awards it deserves, in the sense that it has the literature the universities, the press, the hospitals and the roads it deserves. The conclusion? Competition and awards have been inherent in the rite of literature since time immemorial. The only legitimate stance is complete and non-negotiable rejection of the institution. And that rarely occurs because everyone knows what it means to be out of the game. There is not and there cannot be any difference between state and private prizes, unless one believes that in Greece the cure for the ailing state is the «reliability» and «transparency» of the private sphere. Hence the prizes of the three periodicals are equally if not more sinful. They simply want to establish small literary baronies, alongside the state institution. The names and the facts are all well-known. All that’s left is to reshuffle the cards. So where’s the problem?