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The Literary Prize as an Instrument in the Material and Symbolic Production of Literature: The Case of the ‘Prix Formentor’, 1961-1965

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Abstract In the 1960s a group of thirteen independent publishers of quality literature, brought together by the Spanish publisher Carlos Barral, founded two new literary prizes: the ‘Prix Formentor’ and the ‘Prix des Éditeurs’. This article focuses on the background of the ‘Prix Formentor’, which was designed to award first novels of young, promising authors. The function of this prize aimed to serve as an instrument for the large-scale launch of its winners on the international literary market. Specifically, this article investigates the winning authors’ number of translations published abroad in order to highlight the extent to which the Prix Formentor was instrumental in the creation of international breakthroughs. As such, the establishment of these prizes mark the beginning of an era in which publishing companies begin to play a more active role in the ‘symbolic’ production of literature (à la Bourdieu). Following the work of Casanova, Shapiro and others, this investigation also provides nuanced observations of the power relations involved in the international exchange of literary texts.

Affiliations: 1: University of Utrecht


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