National Book Awards Acceptance Speeches

John Barth, Winner of the 1973 FICTION AWARD for CHIMERA

In a letter to the Duke of Weimar, Goethe said, "I am convinced that it is almost as immodest to refuse a high distinction as stubbornly to strive to attain it." I agree, despite the capriciousness and ephemerality of such distinctions. We all share the Tragic View of Literary Prizes; yet it would be boring if there were none, and it is more agreeable to shrug them off, having won them. A worthwhile literary prize, in my estimation, is one that on occasion will be awarded to a writer despite the fact that he or she deserves it.