Should the Nobel Prize for Literature, the highest international award, be awarded to Salman Rushdie, who has just been the victim of an Islamist attack?
This is the idea launched by Bernard-Henri Lévy.
It’s a good idea, because it would send a clear message to fundamentalists: let’s honor what you hate.
At the same time, it can be considered a bad idea, because normally a literary prize should only be awarded on criteria of literary quality.
But are we really living in “normal times”?
I was very moved reading in JDD (Sunday newspaper) the platform of the French philosopher BHL, who defends Rushdie, his friend for 33 years.
He asks Rushdie to get the Nobel Prize to be awarded in October, although it is known that the finalists have already been chosen since May.
“This writer punished for writing free texts that set free for thirty years deserves reparation,” writes Lévy.
Imagine the masterful message, the symbolic middle finger, the monumental snobbery it would represent if, with great fanfare, we awarded this supreme recognition to Rushdie, the “death row” who lived for 33 years in “a prison without a wall”.
Respond to a fatwa with a “hey, you! Respond to the knife with the pen, to the wave of hate with a wave of love, to respond to violence with recognition, that would be great!
At first, I was struggling with this idea of BHL. After all, I wouldn’t want a movie to get an Oscar just because its director is a victim. Except that the case of Rushdie is the symbol of something greater, which affects all creators, which affects all of us.
As Lévy says in his text: “This act of absolute terror which, beyond his stabbed body and his books, is a terror over all books and all words in the world, requires a brilliant response”.
By attacking Rushdie, the fanatics are attacking all the authors of the world. By legitimizing violence against “uncomfortable words”, violence against all authors of “forbidden words” is trivialized.
ALL SENTENCED TO DEATH
After my Monday column on Salman Rushdie, I read some comments that suggest, between the lines, that the author of the satanic verses I had looked for it for a while.
If Rushdie is attacked because of his writings, can you explain to me why the Bataclan spectators were murdered? What had they done to anger the fanatics?
We need to reread what Salman Rushdie said in Philosophy magazine in 2017 …
“The reality is that we all have a fatwa against us. We who want to make use of the freedom of expression, have the possibility of not believing, to lead a free life, to drink a glass of wine on the terraces of cafes and to listen to music; but also all women who do not want to wear the veil or live under the dominion of men… ”, said Salman Rushdie.
“We have all been sentenced to death by fanatics.”
Does the last sentence send shivers down your spine?