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Nobel Prize in Literature

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Nobel Prize in Literature

The Nobel Prize in Literature
Announcement of the Nobel Prize laureate in literature
Awarded for Outstanding contributions in literature
Country Sweden
Presented by Swedish Academy
First awarded 1901
Official website nobelprize.org

Since 1901, the Nobel Prize in Literature ([1][2] Though individual works are sometimes cited as being particularly noteworthy, here "work" refers to an author's work as a whole. The Swedish Academy decides who, if anyone, will receive the prize in any given year. The academy announces the name of the chosen laureate in early October.[3] It is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the will of Alfred Nobel in 1895; the others are the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Nobel Prize in Physics, Nobel Peace Prize, and Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

Nobel's choice of emphasis on idealism in his criteria for the Nobel Prize in Literature has led to recurrent controversy. In the original Swedish, the word idealisk translates as either "idealistic" or "ideal".[2] In the early twentieth century, the Nobel Committee interpreted the intent of the will strictly. For this reason, they did not award certain world-renowned authors of the time such as James Joyce, Leo Tolstoy, Anton Chekhov, Marcel Proust, Henrik Ibsen, and Henry James.[4] More recently, the wording has been more liberally interpreted. Thus, the prize is now awarded both for lasting literary merit and for evidence of consistent idealism on some significant level. In recent years, this means a kind of idealism championing human rights on a broad scale. Hence the award is now arguably more political.[2][5]

The Swedish Academy has attracted significant criticism in recent years for its handling of the award. Some critics contend that many well-known writers have not been awarded the prize or even been nominated, whereas others contend that some well-known recipients do not deserve it. There have also been controversies involving alleged political interests relating to the nomination process and ultimate selection of some of the recent literary laureates.[5] Some, such as Indian academic Sabaree Mitra, have noted that, though the Nobel Prize in Literature is significant and tends to overshadow other awards, it is "not the only benchmark of literary excellence".[6]

Contents

  • Background 1
  • Nomination procedure 2
  • Prizes 3
    • Nobel Prize Medals 3.1
    • Nobel Prize Diplomas 3.2
  • Laureates 4
    • Potential candidates 4.1
  • Criticism 5
    • Controversies about Nobel Laureate selections 5.1
    • Nationality-based criticism 5.2
    • Overlooked literary achievements 5.3
  • Similar international prizes 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9

Background

In 1901, Sully Prudhomme (1839–1907), a French poet and essayist, was the first person to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, "in special recognition of his poetic composition, which gives evidence of lofty idealism, artistic perfection and a rare combination of the qualities of both heart and intellect."

Alfred Nobel stipulated in his last will and testament that his money be used to create a series of prizes for those who confer the "greatest benefit on mankind" in physics, chemistry, peace, physiology or medicine, and literature.[7][8] Though Nobel wrote several wills during his lifetime, the last was written a little over a year before he died, and signed at the Swedish-Norwegian Club in Paris on 27 November 1895.[9][10] Nobel bequeathed 94% of his total assets, 31 million Swedish kronor (US$186 million, 135 million in 2008), to establish and endow the five Nobel Prizes.[11] Due to the level of scepticism surrounding the will it was not until April 26, 1897 that the Storting (Norwegian Parliament) approved it.[12][13] The executors of his will were Ragnar Sohlman and Rudolf Lilljequist, who formed the Nobel Foundation to take care of Nobel's fortune and organize the prizes.

The members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee that were to award the Peace Prize were appointed shortly after the will was approved. The prize-awarding organisations followed: the Karolinska Institutet on June 7, the Swedish Academy on June 9, and the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences on June 11.[14][15] The Nobel Foundation then reached an agreement on guidelines for how the Nobel Prize should be awarded. In 1900, the Nobel Foundation's newly created statutes were promulgated by King Oscar II.[13][16][17] According to Nobel's will, the Royal Swedish Academy were to award the Prize in Literature.[17]

Nomination procedure

Each year the

  • "The Nobel Prize Medal for Literature" – Official webpage of the Nobel Foundation.
  • Read the Nobels - a collaborative Litblog featuring reviews of individual books by Nobel laureates.
  • Graphics: National Literature Nobel Prize shares 1901-2009 by citizenship at the time of the award and by country of birth. From J. Schmidhuber (2010), Evolution of National Nobel Prize Shares in the 20th Century at arXiv:1009.2634v1
  • "The Nobel Prize Medals and the Medal for the Prize in Economics" – By Birgitta Lemmel; an article on the history of the design of the medals featured on the official site.
  • "What the Nobel Laureates Receive" – Featured link in "The Nobel Prize Award Ceremonies" on the official site of the Nobel Foundation.
  • "How the Academy Rejected the Women" - Article (in Swedish, based on documents in the Nobel Archive) about the women writers, that were nominated from 1901 to 1950/1959 (due to secrecy rules, 50 years); in all, 44 women writers were nominated 124 times, among whom only five were awarded the prize (Lagerlöf 1909, Deledda 1926, Undset 1928, Buck 1938, Mistral 1945).
  • "The Translator Puts Stamp on the Nobel Prize" - Article (in Swedish, based on documents in the Nobel Archive) about the 'translation-problem' in the context of the Nobel Prize in Literature.
  • "The rise of the Prize" - Article by Nilanjana S. Roy dealing with the history of the award by decade, from the 1900s to the 2000s.

External links

  1. ^ "The Nobel Prize in Literature". nobelprize.org. Retrieved 2007-10-13. 
  2. ^ a b c John Sutherland (October 13, 2007). "Ink and Spit". Guardian Unlimited Books (The Guardian). Retrieved 2007-10-13. 
  3. ^ "The Nobel Prize in Literature".  
  4. ^ a b c Kjell Espmark (1999-12-03). "The Nobel Prize in Literature". Nobelprize.org. Retrieved 2006-08-14. 
  5. ^ a b c Neil Smith (2005-10-13). Political element' to Pinter Prize"'".  
  6. ^ "Allure of literature prize strong for China". Global Times. 10 October 2012. Retrieved 10 October 2012. 
  7. ^ "History – Historic Figures: Alfred Nobel (1833–1896)". BBC. Retrieved 2010-01-15. 
  8. ^ "Guide to Nobel Prize". Britannica.com. Retrieved 2010-01-15. 
  9. ^ Ragnar Sohlman: 1983, Page 7
  10. ^ von Euler, U.S. (6 June 1981). "The Nobel Foundation and its Role for Modern Day Science" (PDF). Die Naturwissenschaften (Springer-Verlag). Retrieved 21 January 2010. 
  11. ^ "The Will of Alfred Nobel", nobelprize.org. Retrieved 6 November 2007.
  12. ^ "The Nobel Foundation – History". Nobelprize.org. Retrieved 2010-10-12. 
  13. ^ a b Agneta Wallin Levinovitz: 2001, Page 13
  14. ^ "Nobel Prize History —". Infoplease.com. 1999-10-13. Retrieved 2010-01-15. 
  15. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica. "Nobel Foundation (Scandinavian organisation) – Britannica Online Encyclopedia". Britannica.com. Retrieved 2010-01-15. 
  16. ^ AFP, "Alfred Nobel's last will and testament", The Local(5 October 2009): accessed 20 January 2010.
  17. ^ a b "Nobel Prize" (2007), in Encyclopædia Britannica, accessed 15 January 2009, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online:
    After Nobel’s death, the Nobel Foundation was set up to carry out the provisions of his will and to administer his funds. In his will, he had stipulated that four different institutions—three Swedish and one Norwegian—should award the prizes. From Stockholm, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences confers the prizes for physics, chemistry, and economics, the Karolinska Institute confers the prize for physiology or medicine, and the Swedish Academy confers the prize for literature. The Norwegian Nobel Committee based in Oslo confers the prize for peace. The Nobel Foundation is the legal owner and functional administrator of the funds and serves as the joint administrative body of the prize-awarding institutions, but it is not concerned with the prize deliberations or decisions, which rest exclusively with the four institutions.
  18. ^ "Nomination for the Nobel Prize in Literature". nobelprize.org. Archived from the original on 2007-10-11. Retrieved 2007-10-13. 
  19. ^ a b c d e f Per Wästberg (President of The Nobel Committee for Literature), "Do We Need the Nobel?", The New York Review of Books, December 22, 2011. Last accessed December 2011.
  20. ^ "Nomination and Selection of the Nobel Laureates in Literature". nobelprize.org. Archived from the original on 2007-10-11. Retrieved 2007-10-13. 
  21. ^ Tom Rivers (2009-12-10). "2009 Nobel Laureates Receive Their Honors | Europe| English". .voanews.com. Retrieved 2010-01-15. 
  22. ^ "The Nobel Prize Amounts". Nobelprize.org. Retrieved 2011-10-12. 
  23. ^ a b "Nobel Prize – Prizes" (2007), in Encyclopædia Britannica, accessed 15 January 2009, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online:
    Each Nobel Prize consists of a gold medal, a diploma bearing a citation, and a sum of money, the amount of which depends on the income of the Nobel Foundation. (A sum of $1,300,000 accompanied each prize in 2005.) A Nobel Prize is either given entirely to one person, divided equally between two persons, or shared by three persons. In the latter case, each of the three persons can receive a one-third share of the prize or two together can receive a one-half share.
  24. ^ "The Size of the Nobel Prize Is Being Reduced to Safeguard Long-Term Capital". Nobel official website. June 11, 2012. Retrieved June 11, 2012. 
  25. ^ "The Nobel Prize Amount". nobelprize.org. Retrieved 2007-10-13. 
  26. ^ a b "Nobel Prize Amounts". Nobel website. Retrieved June 12, 2012. 
  27. ^ "The Nobel Prize Award Ceremonies". nobelprize.org. Archived from the original on 2007-10-11. Retrieved 2007-10-13. 
  28. ^ "Medalj – ett traditionellt hantverk" (in Swedish). Myntverket. Retrieved 2007-12-15. 
  29. ^ "The Nobel Prize for Peace", "Linus Pauling: Awards, Honors, and Medals", Linus Pauling and The Nature of the Chemical Bond: A Documentary History, the Valley Library, Oregon State University. Retrieved 7 December 2007.
  30. ^ "Nobel Prize for Chemistry. Front and back images of the medal. 1954", "Source: Photo by Eric Arnold. Ava Helen and Linus Pauling Papers. Honors and Awards, 1954h2.1", "All Documents and Media: Pictures and Illustrations", Linus Pauling and The Nature of the Chemical Bond: A Documentary History, the Valley Library, Oregon State University. Retrieved 7 December 2007.
  31. ^ "The Nobel Medal for Literature". Nobelprize.org. The Nobel Foundation. Retrieved November 11, 2014. 
  32. ^ a b "The Nobel Prize Diplomas". Nobelprize.org. Retrieved 2011-10-12. 
  33. ^ "The Nomination Database for the Nobel Prize in Literature, 1901-1963". www.nobelprize.org. Retrieved 9 Oct 2014. 
  34. ^ "Nomination FAQ". www.nobelprize.org. Retrieved 5 June 2012. 
  35. ^ Jeffrey C. Kinkley, ed. (2004). Selected Stories of Shen Congwen. Chinese University Press. p. xiv.  
  36. ^ "Article (in Swedish): "Violent debate in the Academy when Lagerlöf was elected". 25 September 2009" (in Svenska). Svd.se. Retrieved 2012-02-03. 
  37. ^ Innes, edited by Frederick J. Marker, Christopher (1998). Modernism in European drama : Ibsen, Strindberg, Pirandello, Beckett : essays from Modern drama. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. p. xi.  
  38. ^ Steene, selected, translated, and edited by Egil Törnqvist and Birgitta (2007). Strindberg on drama and theatre : a source book. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press. p. 189.  
  39. ^ Warme, edited by Lars G. (1996). A history of Scandinavian literatures.. Lincoln, Neb.: Univ. of Nebraska Press in cooperation with the American-Scandinavian Foundation. p. 271.  
  40. ^ Peter Swirski. From Lowbrow to Nobrow. McGill Queen's University Press. 
  41. ^ Olivier Truc, "Et Camus obtint enfin le prix Nobel". Le Monde, 28 December 2008.
  42. ^ Harold Orlans, "Self-Centered Translating: Why W. H. Auden Misinterpreted 'Markings' When Translating It from Swedish to English", Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning (published by Heldref Publications for The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching), 1 May 2000, Highbeam Encyclopedia, encyclopedia.com, accessed 26 April 2008: "Swedish dismay at the mangled translation may have cost Auden the Nobel prize in literature."
  43. ^ Alex Hunnicutt, "Dag Hammarskjöld", glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Culture (Heldref Publications, 2004), glbtq.com, accessed 11 August 2006: "Unless some hidden manuscript surfaces or an aging lover suddenly feels moved to revelation, it seems unlikely the world will ever know for sure the details of Hammarskjöld's sexual experience. W. H. Auden, who translated Markings, was convinced of his [Hammarsköld's] homosexuality. Saying so publicly during a lecture tour of Scandinavia may have cost Auden the Nobel Prize in Literature that he was widely expected to receive in the 1960s."
  44. ^ a b c d e f Alison Flood (3 January 2013). "Swedish Academy reopens controversy surrounding Steinbeck's Nobel prize".  
  45. ^ English, Jason. "Odd facts about Nobel Prize winners". CNN. Retrieved November 11, 2014. 
  46. ^ Stig Fredrikson, "How I Helped Alexandr Solzhenitsyn Smuggle His Nobel Lecture from the USSR", nobelprize.org, 22 February 2006. Retrieved 12 October 2011.
  47. ^ Alex Duval Smith (2005-10-14). "A Nobel Calling: 100 Years of Controversy".  
  48. ^  
  49. ^ New studies agree that Beauvoir is eclipsing Sartre as a philosopher and writer The Independent May 25, 2008. Retrieved on January 4, 2009.
  50. ^ Textos escondidos de Pablo Neruda Libros April 14, 2005. Retrieved on January 4, 2009.
  51. ^ "Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Fidel Castro: A controversial friendship". The Economic Times. 18 April 2014. Retrieved 18 April 2014. 
  52. ^ Rahim, Sameer (9 October 2009). "Who is Herta Müller, laureate of the Nobel Prize for literature 2009?". The Telegraph. Retrieved 25 May 2012. 
  53. ^ Julie Carroll, " 'Pope and Witch' Draws Catholic Protests", The Catholic Spirit, 27 February 2007. Retrieved 13 October 2007.
  54. ^ Bohlen, Celestine (10 October 1997). "Italy's Barbed Political Jester, Dario Fo, Wins Nobel Prize". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 May 2012. 
  55. ^ "Nobel Stuns Italy's Left-wing Jester", The Times, 10 October 1997, rpt. in Archives of a list at hartford-hwp.com. Retrieved 17 October 2007.
  56. ^ Unearthing Franco's Legacy, p.17 , University of Nortre dame Press.
  57. ^ "Nobel Judge Steps Down in Protest". BBC News Online (BBC). 2005-10-11. Retrieved 2007-10-13. 
  58. ^ Associated Press, "Who Deserves Nobel Prize? Judges Don't Agree", MSNBC, 11 October 2005. Retrieved 13 October 2007.
  59. ^ Dan Kellum, "Lessing's Legacy of Political Literature: The Nation: Skeptics Call It A Nonliterary Nobel Win, But Academy Saw Her Visionary Power", CBS News, rpt. from The Nation (column), 14 October 2007. Retrieved 17 October 2007.
  60. ^ Dagens Nyheter Akademien väljer helst en europé (The Academy prefers to pick a European)
  61. ^ Kirsch, Adam (2008-10-03). "The Nobel Committee has no clue about American literature". Slate.com. Retrieved 2010-06-16. 
  62. ^ "Judge: Nobel literature prizes 'too Eurocentric' | World news | guardian.co.uk". Guardian. 2009-10-06. Retrieved 2010-02-05. 
  63. ^ Author's Nobel Stirs Shock-and-'Bah'.Jordan, Mary. Washington Post. Friday, October 9, 2009.
  64. ^ Kite, Lorien. "Sweden’s ‘buzzard’ poet wins Nobel Prize". Financial Times. Retrieved on 6 October 2011. "Before Thursday’s announcement, there had also been much speculation that the committee would choose to honour the Syrian poet Adonis in a gesture towards the Arab Spring. But Mr England (sic) dismissed the notion that there was a political dimension to the prize; such an approach, he said, was “literature for dummies”."
  65. ^ Grundberg, Sven; Hansegard, Jens (9 October 2014). "So no American this year, yet again. Why is that?".  
  66. ^ a b Espmark, Kjell. "Nobel's Will and the Literature Prize". Nobelprize.org. Retrieved 6 May 2012. 
  67. ^ a b Parks, Tim. "What’s Wrong With the Nobel Prize in Literature". New York Review of Books. Retrieved 28 May 2012. 
  68. ^ Anderson, Hephzibah (31 May 2009). "Alice Munro: The mistress of all she surveys". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 May 2012. 
  69. ^ Clark, David Draper. "World Literature Today". Oklahoma Historical Society. Retrieved 28 May 2012. 
  70. ^ Maori writer this year’s Neustadt International Prize winner - The Norman Transcript
  71. ^ a b "One writer's achievement in fiction". The Booker Prize Foundation. Retrieved 2 June 2012. 

References

See also

There are also prizes for honouring the lifetime achievement of writers in specific languages, like the Miguel de Cervantes Prize (for Spanish language, established in 1976) and the Camões Prize (for Portuguese language, established in 1989). Nobel laureates who were also awarded the Miguel de Cervantes Prize include Octavio Paz (1981 Cervantes, 1990 Nobel); Mario Vargas Llosa (1994 Cervantes, 2010 Nobel); and Camilo José Cela (1995 Cervantes, 1989 Nobel). José Saramago is the only author to receive both the Camões Prize (1995) and the Nobel Prize (1998) to date.

The Man Booker International Prize "highlights one writer's overall contribution to fiction on the world stage"[71] and "has literary excellence as its sole focus".[71] Established in 2005, it is not yet possible to analyze its importance on potential future Nobel Prize in Literature laureates. Only Alice Munro (2009) has been awarded with both. However, the winners of the Man Booker International Prize, Ismail Kadare (2005) and Philip Roth (2011) are all considered perennial contenders for the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Another award of note is the Spanish Prince of Asturias Award in Letters. During the first years of its existence it was almost exclusively awarded to writers in the Spanish language, but in more recent times it has turned into a more international award. Writers that have won both the Prince of Asturias Award in Letters and the Nobel Prize in Literature include Camilo Jose Cela, Gunter Grass, Doris Lessing and Mario Vargas Llosa.

The Nobel Prize in Literature is not the only literary prize for which all nationalities are eligible. Other notable international literary prizes include the Neustadt International Prize for Literature, the Franz Kafka Prize, and the Man Booker International Prize. In contrast to the Nobel Prize in Literature and the Franz Kafka Prize, the Neustadt International Prize and Man Booker International Prize are awarded biennially. The journalist Hephzibah Anderson has noted that the Man Booker International Prize "is fast becoming the more significant award, appearing an ever more competent alternative to the Nobel".[68] The Neustadt International Prize for Literature is regarded as one of the most prestigious international literary prizes, often referred to as the American equivalent to the Nobel Prize.[69][70] Like the Nobel or the Man Booker International Prize, it is awarded not for any one work, but for an entire body of work. It is frequently seen as an indicator of who may be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Gabriel García Márquez (1972 Neustadt, 1982 Nobel), Czesław Miłosz (1978 Neustadt, 1980 Nobel), Octavio Paz (1982 Neustadt, 1990 Nobel), Tomas Tranströmer (1990 Neustadt, 2011 Nobel) were first awarded the Neustadt International Prize for Literature before being awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Similar international prizes

In the history of the Nobel Prize in Literature, many literary achievements were overlooked or not recognized as such, often for political reasons, due to the lack of available translations, and [66] British novelist Tim Parks ascribed the never-ending controversy surrounding the decisions of the Nobel Committee to the "essential silliness of the prize and our own foolishness at taking it seriously"[67] and noted that "eighteen (or sixteen) Swedish nationals will have a certain credibility when weighing up works of Swedish literature, but what group could ever really get its mind round the infinitely varied work of scores of different traditions. And why should we ask them to do that?"[67]

Overlooked literary achievements

The prize's focus on Europeans, and Swedes in particular, has been the subject of criticism, even from Swedish newspapers.[60] The majority of laureates have been European, with Sweden itself receiving more prizes than all of Asia, as well as all of Latin America. In 2009, Julio Cortázar and Carlos Fuentes, while in their place Europeans lesser-known to that continent have triumphed. The 2009 award to Herta Müller, previously little-known outside Germany but many times named favorite for the Nobel Prize, re-ignited the viewpoint that the Swedish Academy was biased and Eurocentric.[63] However, the 2010 prize was awarded to Mario Vargas Llosa, a native of Peru in South America. When the 2011 prize was awarded to the eminent Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer, permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy Peter Englund said the prize was not decided based on politics, describing such a notion as “literature for dummies”.[64] The Swedish Academy awarded the next two prizes to non-Europeans, Chinese author Mo Yan and Canadian short story writer Alice Munro. French writer Patrick Modiano's win in 2014 renewed questions of Eurocentrism; when asked by The Wall Street Journal "So no American this year, yet again. Why is that?", Englund reminded Americans of the Canadian origins of the previous year's winner, the Academy's desire for literary quality and the impossibility of rewarding everyone who deserves the prize.[65]

French author Albert Camus was the first African-born writer to receive the award.

Nationality-based criticism

The selection of Harold Pinter for the Prize in 2005 was delayed for a couple of days, apparently due to Ahnlund's resignation, and led to renewed speculations about there being a "political element" in the Swedish Academy's awarding of the Prize.[5] Although Pinter was unable to give his controversial Nobel Lecture in person because of ill health, he delivered it from a television studio on video projected on screens to an audience at the Swedish Academy, in Stockholm. His comments have been the source of much commentary and debate. The issue of their "political stance" was also raised in response to the awards of the Nobel Prize in Literature to Orhan Pamuk and Doris Lessing in 2006 and 2007, respectively.[59]

The choice of the 2004 laureate, Elfriede Jelinek, was protested by a member of the Swedish Academy, Knut Ahnlund, who had not played an active role in the Academy since 1996; Ahnlund resigned, alleging that selecting Jelinek had caused "irreparable damage" to the reputation of the award.[57][58]

Camilo José Cela willingly offered his services as an informer for Franco's regime and had moved voluntarily from Madrid to Galicia during the Spanish Civil War in order to join the rebel forces there; an article by Miguel Angel Villena, Between Fear and Impunity which compiled commentaries by Spanish novelists on the noteworthy silence of the older generation of Spanish novelists on the Francoist pasts of public intellectuals, appeared below a photograph of Cela during the Nobel ceremony in Stockholm in 1989.[56]

The award to Italian performance artist [55]

Argentine writer Joseph Stalin, in the case of Sartre and Neruda,[49][50] and Fidel Castro, in the case of García Márquez.[51]

In 1974 Graham Greene, Vladimir Nabokov, and Saul Bellow were considered but rejected in favor of a joint award for Swedish authors Eyvind Johnson and Harry Martinson, both Nobel judges themselves, and unknown outside their home country. Bellow received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1976; neither Greene nor Nabokov was awarded it.[47]

Soviet dissident writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the 1970 prize laureate, did not attend the Nobel Prize ceremony in Stockholm for fear that the U.S.S.R. would prevent his return afterwards (his works there were circulated in samizdat—clandestine form). After the Swedish government refused to honor Solzhenitsyn with a public award ceremony and lecture at its Moscow embassy, Solzhenitsyn refused the award altogether, commenting that the conditions set by the Swedes (who preferred a private ceremony) were "an insult to the Nobel Prize itself." Solzhenitsyn did not accept the award, and prize money, until 10 December 1974, after he was deported from the Soviet Union.[46]

In 1964 Jean-Paul Sartre was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, but he declined it, stating that "It is not the same thing if I sign Jean-Paul Sartre or if I sign Jean-Paul Sartre, Nobel Prize laureate. A writer must refuse to allow himself to be transformed into an institution, even if it takes place in the most honorable form."[45]

In 1962, John Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize for Literature. The selection was heavily criticized, and described as "one of the Academy's biggest mistakes" in one Swedish newspaper.[44] The New York Times asked why the Nobel committee gave the award to an author whose "limited talent is, in his best books, watered down by tenth-rate philosophising", adding; "we think it interesting that the laurel was not awarded to a writer ... whose significance, influence and sheer body of work had already made a more profound impression on the literature of our age".[44] Steinbeck himself, when asked if he deserved the Nobel on the day of the announcement, replied: "Frankly, no."[44] In 2012 (50 years later), the Nobel Prize opened its archives and it was revealed that Steinbeck was a "compromise choice" among a shortlist consisting of Steinbeck, British authors Robert Graves and Lawrence Durrell, French dramatist Jean Anouilh and Danish author Karen Blixen.[44] The declassified documents showed that he was chosen as the best of a bad lot,[44] "There aren't any obvious candidates for the Nobel prize and the prize committee is in an unenviable situation," wrote committee member Henry Olsson.[44]

Some attribute W. H. Auden's not being awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature to errors in his translation of 1961 Peace Prize laureate Dag Hammarskjöld's Vägmärken (Markings)[42] and to statements that Auden made during a Scandinavian lecture tour suggesting that Hammarskjöld was, like Auden, homosexual.[43]

According to Swedish Academy archives studied by the newspaper Le Monde on their opening in 2008, French novelist and intellectual André Malraux was seriously considered for the prize in the 1950s. Malraux was competing with Albert Camus, but was rejected several times, especially in 1954 and 1955, "so long as he does not come back to novel". Thus, Camus was awarded the prize in 1957.[41]

The academy considered Czech writer Karel Čapek's War With the Newts too offensive to the German government. He also declined to suggest some noncontroversial publication that could be cited as an example of his work, stating "Thank you for the good will, but I have already written my doctoral dissertation".[40] He was thus denied the prize.

From 1901 to 1912, the committee was characterised by an interpretation of the "ideal direction" stated in Nobel's will as "a lofty and sound idealism." This caused Leo Tolstoy, Henrik Ibsen, Émile Zola and Mark Twain to be rejected.[4] Also, many believe Sweden's historic antipathy towards Russia is the reason neither Tolstoy nor Anton Chekhov was awarded the prize. During World War I and its immediate aftermath, the committee adopted a policy of neutrality, favouring writers from non-combatant countries.[4] August Strindberg was repeatedly bypassed by the committee, but holds the singular distinction of being awarded an Anti-Nobel Prize, conferred by popular acclaim and national subscription and presented to him in 1912 by future prime minister Hjalmar Branting.[37][38][39]

Selma Lagerlöf, the first female writer to be awarded a Nobel Prize in literature, faced major controversies.[36] Illustration from Svenska Dagbladet, 11 December 1909.

Controversies about Nobel Laureate selections

Criticism

According to Professor Göran Malmqvist of the Swedish Academy, Chinese writer Shen Congwen was to have been awarded the 1988 Nobel Prize in Literature, had he not suddenly died that year.[35]

Potential recipients of the Nobel Prize in Literature are difficult to predict as nominations are kept secret for fifty years until they are publicly available at The Nomination Database for the Nobel Prize in Literature. Currently, only nominations submitted during 1901 and 1963 are available for public viewing.[33] This secrecy has led to speculation about the next Nobel laureate.

Potential candidates

Laureates

Nobel laureates receive a Diploma directly from the King of Sweden. Each Diploma is uniquely designed by the prize-awarding institutions for the laureate that receives it.[32] The Diploma contains a picture and text which states the name of the laureate and normally a citation of why they received the prize.[32]

Nobel Prize Diplomas

The Nobel Prize medals, minted by Myntverket[28] in Sweden and the Mint of Norway since 1902, are registered trademarks of the Nobel Foundation. Each medal features an image of Alfred Nobel in left profile on the obverse (front side of the medal). The Nobel Prize medals for Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, and Literature have identical obverses, showing the image of Alfred Nobel and the years of his birth and death (1833–1896). Nobel's portrait also appears on the obverse of the Nobel Peace Prize medal and the Medal for the Prize in Economics, but with a slightly different design.[29] The image on the reverse of a medal varies according to the institution awarding the prize. The reverse sides of the Nobel Prize medals for Chemistry and Physics share the same design.[30] The medal for the Nobel Prize in Literature was designed by Erik Lindberg.[31]

Nobel Prize Medals

The laureate is also invited to give a lecture during "Nobel Week" in Stockholm; the highlight is the prize-giving ceremony and banquet on December 10.[27] It is the richest literary prize in the world by a large margin.

The prize money of the Nobel Prize has been fluctuating since its inauguration but as of 2012 it stands at kr8,000,000 (about US$1,100,000), previously it was kr10,000,000.[24][25][26] This was not the first time the prize-amount was decreased—beginning with a nominal value of kr150,782 in 1901 (worth 8,123,951 in 2011 SEK) the nominal value has been as low as kr121,333 (2,370,660 in 2011 SEK) in 1945—but it has been uphill or stable since then, peaking at an SEK-2011 value of 11,659,016 in 2001.[26]

A Literature Nobel Prize laureate earns a gold medal, a diploma bearing a citation, and a sum of money.[21] The amount of money awarded depends on the income of the Nobel Foundation that year.[22] If a prize is awarded to more than one laureate, the money is either split evenly among them or, for three laureates, it may be divided into a half and two quarters.[23] If a prize is awarded jointly to two or more laureates the money is split among them.[23]

Prizes

Thousands of requests are sent out each year, and as of 2011 about 220 proposals are returned.[19] These proposals must be received by the Academy by 1 February, after which they are examined by the Nobel Committee. By April, the Academy narrows the field to around twenty candidates.[19] By May a short list of five names is approved by the Committee.[19] The subsequent four months are then spent in reading and reviewing the works of the five candidates.[19] In October members of the Academy vote and the candidate who receives more than half of the votes is named the Nobel laureate in Literature. No one can get the prize without being on the list at least twice, thus many of the same authors reappear and are reviewed repeatedly over the years.[19] The academy is master of thirteen languages, but when a candidate is shortlisted from an unknown language, they call on translators and oath-sworn experts to provide samples of that writer.[19] Other elements of the process are similar to that of other Nobel Prizes.[20]

[18]

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