You received the Prix Goncourt.
Unfortunately. I did everything I could to prevent that.
But you did not accept it.
I didn’t want it.
Why not? Why reject a prize that so many of your colleagues yearn for?
I don’t think prizes have anything to do with literature. They have to do with marketing, not literature. I don’t like that.
But it’s a prestigious prize, well-endowed. You could live well in Barcelona with that money.
I came to Barcelona before the prize. The money is nice, but I don’t like the competition, all this crap. People who are interested in that care more about their social status than art.
Robert Musil, on prize ceremonies in general:
We have a history of great men, and we regard it as an institution that belongs to us, just like prisons or the army; having it means we have to have people to put into it. And so, with a certain automatism inherent in such social needs, we always pick the next in line and shower him with the honors ripe to be handed out. But this veneration is not quite sincere; at its base lies the gaping, generally accepted conviction that there is really not a single person who deserves it, and it is hard to tell whether the mouth opens to acclaim someone or to yawn. To call a man a genius nowadays, with the unspoken gloss that there is really no longer any such thing, smacks of some cult of the dead, something like hysterical love making a great to-do for no other reason than that there is no real feeling present.
The Man without Qualities, Vol I, p. 322 (Wilkins / Pike translation).