Other Events, deaths, births, of OCT 12
On an October 12:
UN flag2001 Nobel Peace Prize to the UN
and to its Secretary General.

     The Norwegian Nobel Committee in Oslo has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2001, in two equal portions, to the United Nations and to its Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, 63, for their work for a better organized and more peaceful world.
      For one hundred years, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has sought to strengthen organized cooperation between states. The end of the cold war has at last made it possible for the U.N. to perform more fully the part it was originally intended to play. Today the organization is at the forefront of efforts to achieve peace and security in the world, and of the international mobilization aimed at meeting the world's economic, social and environmental challenges.
Kofi Annan      Kofi Annan has devoted almost his entire working life to the U.N. As Secretary-General, he has been pre-eminent in bringing new life to the organization. While clearly underlining the U.N.'s traditional responsibility for peace and security, he has also emphasized its obligations with regard to human rights. He has risen to such new challenges as HIV/AIDS and international terrorism, and brought about more efficient utilization of the U.N.'s modest resources. In an organization that can hardly become more than its members permit, he has made clear that sovereignty can not be a shield behind which member states conceal their violations.
      The U.N. has in its history achieved many successes, and suffered many setbacks. Through this first Peace Prize to the U.N. as such, the Norwegian Nobel Committee wishes in its centenary year to proclaim that the only negotiable route to global peace and cooperation goes by way of the United Nations.

     Kofi Annan
[photo >] was born on 08 April 1938 in Kumasi, Ghana, West Africa. He is the son of a tribal chief of the Fante tribe and Kofi's father went on to become a provincial governor. Mr. Annan studied at the University of Science and Technology at Kumasi, Ghana, and completed his undergraduate degee with a Bachelor of Science in Economics from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1961. He also completed graduate studies in economics at the Institut Universitaire des Hautes Etudes Internationales in Geneva, Switzerland. As the winner of a 1971-1972 Sloan Fellowship, Mr. Annan received a Master of Science degree in Management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.).
      Mr. Annan speaks fluent French, English, German, Spanish and several African languages. Mr. Annan began with the United Nations 36 years ago when he was an Administrative Officer and Budget Officer at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. His first diplomatic posting was in 1968 and he is the first Secretary General to ascend to the top job through the ranks. His previous position prior to becoming Secretary-General was as Under Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations. Among the many places he has served as a diplomat for the U.N. are Addis Ababa, Cairo, Geneva, Ismailia, Egypt, and New York.
      Mr. Annan first gained international recognition during the Persian Gulf War, when he negotiated the release of 900 U.N. staff stationed in Kuwait and Iraq. Kofi Annan has been married for twenty years to the former Nane Lagergren, a Swedish lawyer who has become an internationally known artist. The Annans have three children. His alma mater, Macalester College awarded him its Trustee Distinguished Service Award in 1994 and in June,1996, CedarCrest College in Allentown, Pennsylvania awarded Kofi Annan the honorary degree of Doctor of Public Service

Previous Nobel Peace Prizes awarded to U.N. officials or organizations:
-1945: Cordell Hull, a former U.S. secretary of state, for being one of the initiators of the United Nations.
-1950: Ralph Bunche, acting U.N. mediator in Palestine, for his mediation of the 1949 armistice between Israel and the Arab states.
-1954: The office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, for its "untiring and sometimes thankless effort, to bring assistance to the refugees."
-1957: Lester B. Pearson, former Canadian prime minister, for mediating a truce in the 1956 Middle East War, and sponsoring the resolution creating a United Nations Emergency Force to police the Suez Canal.
-1961: Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold, awarded posthumously following his death in a plane crash on a peace mission to Congo, "in gratitude for all he did, for what he achieved, for what he fought for: to create peace and goodwill among nations and men."
-1965: The U.N. Children's Fund, or UNICEF, for realizing that "the children of today make the history of the future."
-1969: The International Labor Organization for promoting "social justice."
-1981: The office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, for the second time, for assisting a tremendous number of refugees "despite the many political difficulties with which it has to contend."
-1988: U.N. peacekeeping forces, for "reducing tensions" and making "a decisive contribution toward the initiation of actual peace negotiations."
2000 The Nobel Prize in Literature goes to the Chinese writer Gao Xingjian, a political refugee in France since 1988 and now a French citizen “for an œuvre of universal validity, bitter insights and linguistic ingenuity, which has opened new paths for the Chinese novel and drama”. (which is banned in China).
      In the writing of Gao Xingjian literature is born anew from the struggle of the individual to survive the history of the masses. He is a perspicacious skeptic who makes no claim to be able to explain the world. He asserts that he has found freedom only in writing.
     His great novel Soul Mountain is one of those singular literary creations that seem impossible to compare with anything but themselves. It is based on impressions from journeys in remote districts in southern and southwestern China, where shamanistic customs still linger on, where ballads and tall stories about bandits are recounted as the truth and where it is possible to come across exponents of age-old Daoist wisdom. The book is a tapestry of narratives with several protagonists who reflect each other and may represent aspects of one and the same ego. With his unrestrained use of personal pronouns Gao creates lightning shifts of perspective and compels the reader to question all confidences. This approach derives from his dramas, which often require actors to assume a role and at the same time describe it from the outside. I, you and he/she become the names of fluctuating inner distances.
     Soul Mountain is a novel of a pilgrimage made by the protagonist to himself and a journey along the reflective surface that divides fiction from life, imagination from memory. The discussion of the problem of knowledge increasingly takes the form of a rehearsal of freedom from goals and meaning. Through its polyphony, its blend of genres and the scrutiny that the act of writing subjects itself to, the book recalls German Romanticism’s magnificent concept of a universal poetry.
     Gao Xingjian’s second novel, One Man’s Bible, fulfills the themes of Soul Mountain but is easier to grasp. The core of the book involves settling the score with the terrifying insanity that is usually referred to as China’s Cultural Revolution. With ruthless candor the author accounts for his experiences as a political activist, victim and outside observer, one after the other. His description could have resulted in the dissident’s embodiment of morality but he rejects this stance and refuses to redeem anyone else. Gao Xingjian’s writing is free of any kind of complaisance, even to good will. His play Fugitives irritated the democracy movement just as much as those in power.
     Gao Xingjian points out himself the significance for his plays of the non-naturalistic trends in Western drama, naming Artaud, Brecht, Beckett and Kantor. However, it has been equally important for him to “open the flow of sources from popular drama”. When he created a Chinese oral theater, he adopted elements from ancient masked drama, shadow plays and the dancing, singing and drumming traditions. He has embraced the possibility of moving freely in time and space on the stage with the help of one single gesture or word - as in Chinese opera. The uninhibited mutations and grotesque symbolic language of dreams interrupt the distinct images of contemporary humanity. Erotic themes give his texts feverish excitement, and many of them have the choreography of seduction as their basic pattern. In this way he is one of the few male writers who gives the same weight to the truth of women as to his own.

Gao Xingjian“I AM CHINA”
      During the Cultural Revolution — the decade of Maoist reform that, among other things, pilloried Chinese intellectuals and sent many to the countryside for "re-education" through hard labor — author Gao Xingjian was among those "sent down" to live the life of a peasant.
      He wrote in secret, at night. According to one biography, he "wrap[ped] his manuscripts in plastic and bur[ied] them in the earth floor under the heavy water urn in his hut." At one point he was forced to burn "kilos and kilos" of manuscripts - burn them in secret, in fear for his life, a logistically maddening process of keeping a flame alight without creating any smoke that would give him away.
      His days of fire without smoke are long gone. There could be no more telltale plume above Gao than the Nobel Prize in literature. Gao, who has lived in exile in France for the past 14 years, is the first Chinese author to receive this honor. But despite the political circumstances that have shaped who he is, and continue to swirl about him (his books are banned in mainland China; the Chinese government, hearing about his Nobel, described his writing as "awful"; Swedish newspapers have grumbled about politics influencing his winning the prize), Gao remains apolitical in his approach to the creative enterprise.
      "Not only do I not write to change society, but I feel an individual person could not do so anyway," Gao on 27 February 2001 in a speech sponsored by the Harvard-Yenching Institute. Literature, he said in his Nobel acceptance speech, "is inherently man's affirmation of the value of his own self. ... Whether it has any impact on society comes after the completion of a work, and that impact certainly is not determined by the wishes of the writer."
      Author of plays (such as "Bus Stop," "Wild Man," "Signal Alarm"), criticism ("A Preliminary Discussion of the Art of Modern Fiction"), and novels ("Soul Mountain," "One Man's Bible"), some written in Chinese, some in French, Gao is known for his avant-garde approach to drama, influenced by such writers as Brecht, Beckett, and Ionesco. His novels are equally experimental. "Soul Mountain" moves among three narrative voices and incorporates Chinese fable, philosophizing, and history; it is semi-autobiographical fiction (based on a five-month journey around China taken when Gao fled authorities in the early '80s) and feels like "one long poem," says his translator Mabel Lee. Questions of language interest Gao, and are evidence of his modernist, if not quite poststructuralist, sensibility.
      "Writers express the human consciousness behind language, and human consciousness can only be expressed through language," he said in his lecture, noting a built-in constraint of the writing process. Moreover, language accumulates cultural-semantic baggage over time, yet writers often use language as a tool to express ideas and feelings of the present.
      Gao builds the auditory aspect of language into his creations. "I do find the musicality of language to be very important," he told his audience last week. "Sometimes I find tonation, melody, to be more important than meaning." Gao listens to music while he writes and often dictates first drafts into a tape recorder.
      A painter as well as a writer, Gao has supported himself in Paris largely through sales of his abstract ink paintings. "Painting starts where words fail or are inadequate in expressing what one wants to express," Gao said in a private interview. "Painting is purely visual. When I'm painting I try to dismiss all language. I just listen to music, I avoid all verbal associations."
      But since he won the Nobel, Gao hasn't had much opportunity to write or paint. He seems weary, a little beleaguered by the endless traveling and speaking that has followed the announcement. The day he learned he won the prize, he couldn't get to bed until 4 in the morning. At 06:00, reporters began ringing his doorbell. Over the next 48 hours, he got two hours of sleep. "If, for a period of time, I don't have a chance to write, I feel very uncomfortable," he said. "When I'm writing, I feel the external world doesn't matter at all."
      Asked how he views his cultural identity, and whether he misses China, Gao gives a typically internal definition of self. "I am China," he says, tapping his chest. Wo jiushi Zhongguo. "China is inside me, and that China," he says, gesturing to encompass the world of politics and pain, of fallibility on a systematic scale, "has nothing to do with me."
1999 Ahmed H. Zewail of the California Institute of Technology wins the Nobel Prize for chemistry.
1999 Dutch scientists Gerardus 't Hooft and Martinus J.G. Veltman win the Nobel Prize for physics.
1985 Internationall Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War receives Nobel Prize
Nobel laureate death which occurred on an October 12:
1924: Jacques-Anatole-François Thibault “Anatole France”.
     Born on 16 April 1844, he was a French writer and ironic, skeptical, and urbane critic who was considered the ideal French man of lettels. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature Nobel in 1921 “in recognition of his brilliant literary achievements, characterized as they are by a nobility of style, a profound human sympathy, grace, and a true Gallic temperament”.
Nobel Prize PresentationAcceptance speech
     Anatole France, was the son of a Paris book dealer. He received a thorough classical education at the Collège Stanislas, a boys' school in Paris, and for a while he studied at the École des Chartes. For about twenty years he held diverse positions, but he always had enough time for his own writings, especially during his period as assistant librarian at the Senate from 1876 to 1890. His literary output is vast, and though he is chiefly known as a novelist and storyteller, there is hardly a literary genre that he did not touch upon at one time or another. France is a writer in the mainstream of French classicism. His style, modelled on Voltaire and Fénélon, as well as his urbane scepticism and enlightened hedonism, continue the tradition of the French eighteenth century. This outlook on life, which appears in all his works, is explicitly expressed in collection of aphorisms, Le Jardin d'Épicure (1895)
      France had written several stories and novels before he achieved his first great success with Le crime de Sylvestre Bonnard (1881). The novel received a prize from the Académie Française, of which France became a member in 1896. In 1885 he published Le Livre de mon ami, a kind of autobiographical novel, which he continued with Pierre Nozière (1899), Le Petit Pierre (1918), and La Vie au fleur (1922). From 1888 to 1892 France was the literary critic of the newspaper Le Temps. His reviews, inspired by the scepticism of Renan, but highly subjective, were collected in four volumes under the title La Vie littéraire (1888-92).
      About this time France turned sharply against the naturalism of Zola. His own work of this period consists of historical fiction that evokes past civilizations with great charm and deep insight. The period of transition from paganism to Christianity was one of his favorites. In 1889 appeared Balthazar, a fanciful version of the story of one of the Magi, and in 1890 Thaïs, the story of the conversion of an Alexandrian courtesan during the Christian era. L'Étui de nacre (1892) is the story of a hermit and a faun, an ironic conjunction typical of France's art.
      In 1893 France published his most celebrated novel, La Rôtisserie de la Reine Pédauque, a vast tableau of life in eighteenth century France. The central figure of the novel, the Abbé Coignard, a complex, ironical, and lovable character, reappears in Les Opinions de Jérôme Coignard (1893) and the collection of stories Le Puit de Sainte Claire (1895). With the tragic love story, Le Lys rouge (1894), France returned to a contemporary subject and in the following years wrote Histoire contemporaine (1896-1901), a group of prose works, not really novels, that have their unity in the character of Professor Bergeret, one of France's most famous creations.
      In his later years France became increasingly interested in social questions. He protested the verdict in the Dreyfus case and developed some sympathies for socialism. Among his last important works were a biography of Joan of Arc (1908), Les dieux ont soif (1912), and La Révolte des anges (1914). The collected works of Anatole France were published in twenty-five volumes between 1925 and 1935.

  • Le crime de Sylvestre Bonnard, membre de l'Institut
  • L'île des pingouins
  • Les dieux ont soif
  • The Crime of Sylvestre Bonnard
  • The Crime of Sylvestre Bonnard
  • The Human Tragedy
  • The Revolt of the Angels
  • Penguin Island
  • Penguin Island
  • Thais
  • Thais
  • Nobel laureate birth which occurred on an October 12:
    1896: Eugenio Montale.
         Montale is an Italian poet, prose writer, editor, and translator, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1975. He died on 12 September 1981.
    Eugenio Montale     Eugenio Montale is one of the few obvious "true masters" of the mid-20th-century fifty years of Italian literature. Born in Genoa into a family of businessmen, he discontinued his secondary studies and started, on a private basis, to study singing with the baritone Ernesto Sivori. But the 1915-18 war (in which he served as an infantry officer), the death of Sivori and his decision to go in for a literary career, turned Montale away from that course, in which he had shown an extraordinary interest in melodrama, even its technical aspects. When he started to devote himself to poetry, he was already in possession of a rich and versatile culture and a taste for Bellini's and Debussy's music, impressionist painting and the art of the great novelists of nineteenth-century Europe, at the same time sharing the interests of the Ligurian poets Roccatagliata-Cecardi, Boine and Sbarbaro. However, the "regional" outlook of the poetry of his time was not allowed to limit the critical attention that he paid to Leopardi and Foscolo. It was not until after the war that the poet dedicated himself fully to creative activities and literature. In 1921, he contributed to Primo Tempo, with Solmi and Debenedetti, revealing, besides his poetic gifts, a rare critical talent through his acuteness and independence of conventional patterns. His Omaggio a Svevo, published in 1925 in the Milanese paper L'Esame, aroused much attention, determining, among other things, the fortune of the works of the Triestine writer.
         Montale settled down in Florence in 1928, where he became director of the Gabinetto Vieusseux library. He was one of the first inspirers of "Solaria", always being one of the most active and politically non-conformist Florentine intellectuals until, in 1938, refusing to join the party then in power, he was dismissed from his directorship at the Gabinetto Vieusseux.
         In 1925, he published his first collection of poems, Ossi di seppia, which quickly became one of the "classics" of contemporary Italian poetry; in his verses, sentiment appears desiccated by a severe intellectual rigour, evoked with intimate fullness in the fervid and striking sights of the Mediterranean landscape. Some critics aptly saw in Ossi di seppia a singular introspective continuity, as in a great modern novel, linked to the story of the protagonist, finding its most developed form in the poem "Arsenio".
         When Le occasioni (1939) was published, it brought consistent confirmation of this inner line of development which, bearing a new classical-modern imprint, identified itself with the great contemporary metaphysical poetry. In Le occasioni, Italian poetry and culture as a whole were, from then on, to recognise a book that reflected the solitude and the agony over the human condition of one who lucidly opposed Fascist oppression, creating a song of noble stoicism.
         Montale's biography is a chronicle of poetry. The Second World War saw the publication, in 1943, of Finisterre, a collection which, published in Lugano in two successive editions of modest print runs, constituted one of the cornerstones of the volume La bufera e altro, a consistent continuation of his whole work, printed in 1956. La farfalla di Dinard — which from the ninety-six pages of the 1956 edition was expanded, from one edition to another, into the 273 pages of the 1960 edition — showed Montale to be an original writer of autobiography and imaginative prose, almost a narrator, with malicious flashes of wit but with an elegiac spirit.
         In 1961, Montale was awarded an honorary degree at the University of Rome and shortly afterwards, at the universities of Milan, Cambridge, and Basel. In 1967, President Saragat appointed him senator for life "in recognition of his distinguished achievements in the literary and artistic fields". This event relieved him, in a sense, of the obligation to go every day to the editorial office of the Corriere della Sera, where he had been working as a music critic, editor and special correspondent since 1948. The following works, prose as well as poetry, confirmed the vitality of a writer who, true to the fundamental themes of his early career (the Universe marked by inevitable failure and pain as an existential stigma), managed to collect experiences and important moments from the spiritual transformations of our times. Auto da fé (1966 and 1972), Fuori di casa (1969 and 1975) and Quaderno di tradazioni (1948 and 1975) are books that give an idea of the vastness of his interests and of the versatility of his talent, later confirmed by La bufera e altro (1970).
         Montale's great poetry, in actual fact, is born out of the search for those presences that reveal and liberate the hidden world, such as spectres and amulets. Not insusceptible to the stylistic lessons of Pascoli and Gozzano, nor to contemporaries writing in English, Montale has in his turn influenced younger Italian poets, even post-Ermetismo poets and experimentators.
         After a volume of cultural articles, La farfalla di Dinard, he published in 1973, still with Mondadori, Diario 1971-72, which contains more recent lyric poems, born of a moral meditation not very different from that which brought forth the poems of Satura.
         Attentive to the effects of history, Montale's poetry stands out as congenial to spirits that are aware of the consequences (of which, from many aspects, we have not yet seen the end) of the second world tragedy, which the writer saw as temporary reflections of an evil without origin and without end, according to a parable which makes him belong to the more conscious part of the European intellect.
         After his Nobel Prize, Montale published Quaderno di quattro anni (1977); L'opera in versi (1980).
        With his very first collection of poems, Ossi di seppia (Bones of the Cuttlefish, 1925), the then 29-year-old Eugenio Montale was ready to uphold his place in Italian poetry. As his work gradually became known outside his own country, he staked the same claim abroad, being recognized more and more, indisputably, as one of the most important poets of the contemporary west. The fact that this took time is natural enough in itself, but in Montale's case may have a special explanation. His consistent personal reticence is probably one of the reasons that it took so long before the literary public became aware of him. But, undoubtedly, a more decisive reason is that, in general, he has given such sparse occasion to judge him. With each collection of poems, he has widened and strengthened his position, but the succession of new volumes is short and the distance between them all the longer. Apart from what was printed before publication in book form, and from what was added in later editions, Montale has, in all, published four books of poems since the first appeared fifty years ago: Le Occasioni (1939), La Bufera e altro (The Storm and Other Things, 1948), Satura (1962), and, more recently, Diario del '71 e del '72. The fact that this modest production has continued to capture the interest of young people both in the poet's own country and in the world at large is sufficient proof of its sterling qualities and lasting effect.
         This is all the more remarkable in that Montale's poetry does not meet its readers with open arms. Born in Genua, he has remained faithful to his north-Italian home region; it forms a living background to most of what he has written. It is not the inviting sunbathers' paradise of the Riviera that extends before us, but a shore of a harsher kind, seemingly drawn from the stern lines of the Ligurian coast with the stormy onset of the sea against steep rock bastions.
         The fact that the inaccessibility of the rocky shores has been given a shape and a counterpart in Montale's work implies a 1iterary program. He came to have an affinity with the so-called hermetic school in his country's poetry, thereby rejecting the melting tones and the rhetorical fanfares that most people had an ear for, both inside and outside Italy. His inaccessibility is not only a matter of literary form but also a spiritual attitude, an inner necessity, an outlook on life. What the writer rejects is not certain styles but his own situation - to that extent, the whole situation of modern men. Ostensibly, at least, he seeks seclusion, not contact. Ostensibly, at least, this isolation against his surroundings is an expression of deep pessimism, not to say negativism. Indeed, Montale's poetry has been so described. But in order to grasp what the negative attitude means, we need only recall what it was that Montale repudiated. He has never wanted to live with his time. In the first world war he took part as an officer against the Austrians; unlike many of his fellow writers at the front he wrote no war poems, saw nothing edifying, nothing splendid in the ghastly business. Demobilized, he came home to an Italy in disintegration; when his first poems appeared, Mussolini was already in power. Montale would not let himself be carried away by the inciting signals, refused to join the party, was deprived of employment and means of livelihood, saw his own literary efforts jeopardized or thwarted, and had to earn his living at translation. In his isolation, he persistently and indomitably pursued his work, a "hermetic", if ever there was one. Bearing this in mind, we tell ourselves that if we lose the capacity to repudiate, all is lost. There is a negativism based not on misanthropy, but on an indelible feeling for the value of life and the dignity of mankind. That is what gives Eugenio Montale's poetry its innate strength.
    Nobel Lecture.
    annex to

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