Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio’s speech at the Nobel Banquet, 10 December 2008
Eders Majestäter, Eders Kungliga Högheter, Mina damer och herrar
Jag vill tacka för äran att vara här,
tacka Svenska Akademien,
tacka svenska folket
och jag vill också tacka skogen.
It’s a great pleasure, it’s a great honour to be with you tonight, and I acknowledge this honour which is done to me and I wish to express my great gratitude for being with such distinguished hosts: the scientists which are very essential in our society. I would like to say just in a few words why I believe that literature is essential.
Literature is not offering an evident progress. Literature is offering an exchange, it is a possibility of exchange. I strongly believe that our cultures are really today in need of this exchange, because the exchange between cultures is probably our only certitude of not going any more to war.
I was born during a war, I was raised during a war, I suffered very much in the first early years of my childhood during the second World War. I really feel the strong necessity to affirm the need of this exchange. And literature is a good way of practicing an exchange. We have to listen to all the people of the world and there is no better voice than the voice of literature for this knowledge of the world. Because literature is done by individuals, they are not necessary specialists, they are people who feel, who experiment, sometimes suffer themselves, and they express in their books, most of the time, their hopes and their wish and their will of a better world. Literature is probably the best school we can give to our children, to listen to this marvellous concert of voices which is the expression of the world.
Thank you very much for the Swedish Academy, thank you for the Swedish people for this hospitality. I hope that my message will be heard, and that my literature and the literature of the world can be listened to thanks to the Nobel Prize.
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