Goncourt: The Brand Crisis of “Centennial Stores”

  As a major literary country, France has not only contributed countless masters to world literature, but also contributed more than a thousand literary awards of various names to the world literary world. Among them, the most influential and authoritative one is the Goncourt Prize for Literature. The founders of the Goncourt Prize are the Goncourt brothers. Unlike the chemist Nobel, Edmond de Goncourt (1822-1896) and his younger brother Jules de Goncourt (1830–1870) were both French writers and had a place in the history of French literature. But 100 years later, the Goncourt brothers, lying in the Montmartre cemetery, would never have imagined that people are still talking about them, not because of their novels, but because of the literary prize named after them.
  After the death of Jules Goncourt, Edmund Goncourt, who was deeply in love with his brother, made a will before his death in order to express his grief for his younger brother. 10 famous people are academicians. The only task of the academicians is to select the best “image work (novel) written in prose” among the French novels published every year (the author’s nationality is not limited), and award it the Goncourt Prize for Literature. The 10 regular members of the Goncourt Society meet on the first Tuesday of each month on the second floor of the Duang restaurant in Paris. Unless someone leaves or dies, they will elect a new member, and they will be on the brand new knife and fork. Engraved with the newcomer’s name.
  The Goncourt Literary Award has been awarded since 1903, and it has a history of 103 years, so it can be described as a veritable “hundred-year-old shop”. The award aims to reward newcomers to literature, and is mainly awarded to young and talented writers who are just starting out. It is unbelievable that the prize money of this world-renowned literary award is only 50 francs. Compared with the British Booker Prize for Fiction established in 1975, this prize is obviously insignificant. Compared with the 230,000 US dollars of the Nobel Prize for Literature, there is a world of difference. Nevertheless, the brand value of the Goncourt Literary Prize is difficult to estimate. Many winners framed the 50-franc cheque and hung it in the most conspicuous place in order to enjoy this “abstract” and supreme spiritual glory at all times.
  The Goncourt Literary Prize is known as the vane of French literature because it is often associated with words such as “classic” and “best-selling”. Like the Nobel Prize for Literature, many of the winning works of the Goncourt Prize for Literature have been recognized as classics in the world literature. Such as Proust’s “Beside the Flowery Maidens” (1919), Barbizet’s “The Wire” (1916), Malraux’s “The Fate of Men” (1933), Duras’ “The Lover” (1984), etc. The “indirect” value of the Goncourt Prize for Literature is even more talked about by the world. On the surface, the Goncourt Prize is mainly based on spiritual rewards and supplemented by material rewards. But once a certain work wins, then The “intangible” spiritual glory will soon be transformed into “tangible” material benefits. The
  winning works can be worth hundreds of times overnight. For ordinary writers, this is also the most eye-catching place for the Goncourt Literary Award. Gong Gu The judges of the Academy are basically writers. The works selected by experts have high readability and obvious advertising effects, so they are easily welcomed by readers, and sales will naturally skyrocket. This situation can be said to continue. More than a century. For ordinary novels, if they can sell 10,000 copies, they can be regarded as best-selling works. The sales of other literary prize works are also around 30,000 to 50,000. But Goncourt’s award-winning novels can be described as thriving, and their sales volume Most are more than 200,000 copies, not including translations published abroad. This means that the award-winning work can bring the author millions of francs in royalties. Therefore, for the winner, “name” and “profit” can be described as Double income, but the “profit” came a little later. For example, Duras’ “The Lover” originally sold 250,000 copies, but after winning the award, the sales rose to 1 million copies. The debut novel of the unknown Jean Rouault After winning the award in 1990, it sold more than 600,000 copies. In short, as long as it is a novel that has won the Goncourt Literary Award, the French are willing to pay for it. 100,000 copies were first printed three months ago. After winning the award, the novel was immediately placed in the most conspicuous position of the bookstore window, and 80,000 copies were sold in a very short period of time. French readers bought “Skoda’s Sun” in the bookstore. “, by the way, “Is this year’s book well written?” The boss shrugged: “It’s Ben Goncourt anyway.”
  In fact, people have never stopped questioning the quality of Goncourt’s award-winning works. In 2003, Jacques-Pierre Amette’s novel (“The Mistress of Brecht” won by a landslide of 7 votes, while Frederic Berberd’s “Window on the World” ” and Alice Fellner’s “At War” received only a pitiful two and one votes, respectively. Despite the overwhelming majority of votes, this result still surprised many experts. Because the Goncourt Literary Award The award was designed to “reward writers who are creative in thought or form”, and the narrative plot of this work was “too mediocre” compared to the other shortlisted works. They therefore believe that Frederick Bergberg Germany’s “Window on the World” is more eligible for this honor. If “Brecht’s Mistress” can win the award or not, then in its century-old history, the Goncourt Literary Award has an interest in “classics” Unintentional omissions are even more criticized.
  When Goncourt founded the Goncourt Academy, another purpose was to challenge the monopoly of the dead French Academy of literary honor, so as to better discover new people and encourage innovation. Contrary to Goncourt’s wishes, the Goncourt Literary Prize is not always known for rewarding innovation. Selina, Aragon, Bhutto, Perec and other writers with great personality and innovative consciousness They are all considered too weird to be awarded the prize. Among the many winners of the French Nobel Prize, none of Mauriac, Camus, Sartre, Claude Simon, etc. has ever won the Goncourt Prize before. To the forgotten list of the Goncourt Prize, one could add Gollette, Morand, Jacques Chardonne, Jules Romain, André Gide, Jean Gaucteau Pierre It is the name of the dazzling stars who shined in the literary sky of the French 20th century, such as Le, Jean Jouyu, Valéry Larbeau, Martin Dugal, Montdellane, Nimiere, Marguerite Yourcenar, etc. .So, the French say with black humor, do you know what Selina, Simnon (Master of Detective Fiction), Geno, Chiono, Mauriac, Bernanos and others have in common ?That is, none of them have won the Goncourt Prize. At the same time, we have to regret to see that writers with mediocre achievements such as René Malan, Henri Foggone, Jean-Fayat, etc. Can easily win the Goncourt Prize for Literature. Some even commented that because of winning the Goncourt Prize, many novels that will be forgotten by history will be listed together with Proust’s “Reminiscence of Time Like Water”. It’s a big joke.
  Today, people criticize the Goncourt Literary Prize not only for the quality of its award-winning works, but also for its selection mechanism. To a certain extent, the loopholes in the selection mechanism are precisely the deep reason why the Goncourt Literary Prize creates mediocrity and forgets the classics. In 1991, the French “Reading” magazine published an investigation report “The Insider of the Goncourt Prize”. The report begins with an unceremonious note: “The Goncourt Prize is a deal between publishing houses”. Because there is no doubt about the qualifications of academicians as writers, but they represent the interests of their respective publishing houses. Therefore, no matter whether they read or not read the works submitted for review every year, every academician already knows that: as long as it is a book published by his own publishing house, he must vote in favor of it. The three major publishing houses, Galima, Grasse, and Seyi, known as the “Three Demons”, manipulated the selection. The rest of the small and medium-sized publishing houses can only share a piece of the pie and chat as embellishments. For example, from 1949 to 1971, 14 of the 22 novels won awards

In 1968, the Gallimard family alone accounted for 6 of the 10 academicians. The 2004 Goncourt Prize was awarded, for the first time, to Laurent Gold, a 32-year-old contract writer for a new publishing house. Gold’s “Skoda’s Sun” may be well-deserved, but some media speculate that this is just a stopgap measure for the jury to calm down and hide from the public, because the 2005 Goncourt Prize is back. “Publishing predators” in the arms of Grasse Press.
  In order to obtain the majority of votes, the publishing house must not only “place” its own representatives among the academicians, but also attract other academicians to “go into the water”. Unlike the Pulitzer Prize, the Booker Prize, etc., the judges of the Goncourt Prize are for life. Although the judges themselves are not paid, their “benefits” are quite generous: there are luxury overseas trips sponsored by the government; there are generous “stipends” from the media. What’s more, there are various “sponsorships” from the publishing house. Therefore, every year before the awards, the French literary world is always shrouded in the atmosphere of bribery. However, the publishing house’s method of “running the prize” is “unknown”, not to mention that the college can’t find out by itself, and even the people from the tax bureau can do nothing. For example, publishing an academician’s work at a loss; or advertising his unpublished novel for free; or paying a high fee for a short essay such as a preface written by an academician; or prepaying an academician for a book, in fact The devil knows when this book will be written.
  One Paris-based independent publisher, who did not want to be named, said: “When you realize that the winner of the Goncourt Prize is going to get millions of euros, and the publishers are also going to benefit, you kind of understand the difference of the whole thing. Morality. The publishing industry in France, especially the literary awards, is inseparable from the collusion of mutual interests.” Guy Knopnic, a writer and journalist who has called for reform of the French literary award system, said: “Mainstream publishers and their Authors serving in various literary awards have a layer of ‘relationship’, which is already very inappropriate.” Knopnich claimed that the current selection system is a “bribery and bribery system”. Regarding the situation in which writers and judges are at the mercy of the publishing house, someone wrote ironically: “When a writer who has won a literary award leaves with a laurel or a check in applause, please don’t forget that the Publishers are the real initiators and beneficiaries of such ceremonies.” Fortunately, because there are too many scandals in France, people have become accustomed to it; the second is because the French are relatively forgetful, and the French literary world has temporarily calmed down after the quarrel. However, with the infiltration and interference of the award committee by the publishing industry, people have to face the fact that the reputation of the judges of the Goncourt Literary Award has begun to decline, the quality of the award-winning works has also been declining, and the general readers are not satisfied with the major publishing houses.” The award-winning works produced by “operating in the dark” are no longer bought like they used to be. The “century-old shop” of the Goncourt Literary Award is suffering from a serious brand crisis.
  Omission of classics, mediocrity, and frequent occurrence of “shady scenes” may not be the faults of the Goncourt Literary Prize family, but a common problem of almost all literary award institutions, even the Nobel Prize for Literature. In modern and post-modern societies, the existence of award-winning institutions is inherently contrary to people’s pursuit of norms, power and ideology, and is also opposed to the freedom and creativity of literature and art itself. Therefore, Sartre’s refusal to accept the Nobel Prize for Literature, and Julien Grac’s refusal to accept the Goncourt Prize for Literature, are not pretentious and self-made news, but understandable things. Because they understand that real writers have to pay a heavier price for their superficial and fleeting glory, and that behind the various literary awards, there may be some kind of terrible crisis hidden.
  Jean-Noel Punkracci linked the success and failure of literary awards to the rise and fall of literature. Ponkerage believes that the literary award is a symbol and reflection of literary creation in a certain period, so the literary award does not exist in isolation. They reflect the spirit, vitality and values ​​of an era… The Critic Literature Award is to criticize literature and criticize this era. According to this logic, the Goncourt Literary Award is being questioned more and more, which not only shows that this “century-old shop” is suffering from a brand crisis, but also shows that the “millennium-old turtle” of literature is suffering from an unprecedented crisis of trust. In an era of pursuing flatness and escaping a sense of depth, and in an era of image hegemony, more people feel that literature is in peril, and is even dying and dying. Of course, more people have begun to prove and protect the value of literature from different angles, which just shows that the value of literature is increasingly becoming a problem.
  The Goncourt Literary Award has changed from a family commemorative act to a worldwide public award, and has handed over its destiny to history to create and comment. In an era full of diversity, controversy and deconstruction, the fate of literature can only be left to history. Perhaps a quote from the writer Roland Barthes can calm our excitement when he said that “literature is like a woman who is having a fever, and we do not know whether she will rise or die”. We all face the same problem today: literature is so fragile. The mission of a novelist is actually to use writing to prolong the life of literature as much as possible, and to wait for the “turning point” after the “crisis”. And what about ordinary readers? There is probably no answer in the language debate. We can only firmly believe that in the present and the future, the role of literature may be relatively weakened or transformed, but as long as human beings do not stop seeking the meaning of life, literature will never die.