It doesn't seem to happen very often, but it's delightful to see a famous person react to an event in public in a way that exposes the scaffolding of the whole system--in this case, the accepted scenario of "Author writes all her life, is successful, makes bold statements, and eventually wins Nobel Prize--at which time, she accepts gracefully and says all the right things."
Lessing wasn't having any of that:
"I'm sure you'd like some uplifting remarks," she added with a smile.
Lessing, who turns 88 this month, is the oldest winner of the literature prize. Although she is widely celebrated for "The Golden Notebook" and other works, she has received little attention in recent years and has been criticized as strident and eccentric.
Asked repeatedly if she was excited about the award, she held court from her doorstep and noted she had been in the running for the Nobel for decades.
"I can't say I'm overwhelmed with surprise," Lessing said. "I'm 88 years old and they can't give the Nobel to someone who's dead, so I think they were probably thinking they'd probably better give it to me now before I've popped off."
Surrounded by members of the international media in her flower-packed garden, Lessing was dismissive of the Nobel — calling the award process graceless and saying the prize "doesn't mean anything artistically."
You go, girl.