The Nobel Prize in Literature (Swedish: Nobelpriset i litteratur) is a Swedish literature prize that is awarded annually, since 1901, to an author from any country who has, in the words of the will of Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel, produced "in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction" (original Swedish: "den som inom litteraturen har producerat det mest framstående verket i en idealisk riktning"). Though individual works are sometimes cited as being particularly noteworthy, the award is based on an author's body of work as a whole. The Swedish Academy decides who, if anyone, will receive the prize. The academy announces the name of the laureate in early October. It is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the will of Alfred Nobel in 1895. On some occasions the award has been postponed to the following year. It was not awarded in 2018, but two names will be awarded in 2019.
Although the Nobel Prize in Literature has become the world's most prestigious literature prize, the Swedish Academy has attracted significant criticism for its handling of the award. Many authors who have won the prize have fallen into obscurity, while others rejected by the jury remain widely studied and read. The prize has "become widely seen as a political one – a peace prize in literary disguise", whose judges are prejudiced against authors with different political tastes to them. Tim Parks has expressed skepticism that it is possible for "Swedish professors ... [to] compar[e] a poet from Indonesia, perhaps translated into English with a novelist from Cameroon, perhaps available only in French, and another who writes in Afrikaans but is published in German and Dutch...". As of 2016, 16 of the 113 recipients have been of Scandinavian origin. The Academy has often been alleged to be biased towards European, and in particular Swedish, authors.
Nobel's "vague" wording for the criteria for the prize has led to recurrent controversy. In the original Swedish, the word idealisk translates as "ideal". The Nobel Committee's interpretation has varied over the years. In recent years, this means a kind of idealism championing human rights on a broad scale.
|Nobel Prize in Literature|
Announcement of the Nobel Prize laureate in literature, 2008
|Awarded for||Outstanding contributions in literature|
|Presented by||Swedish Academy|
|Reward(s)||9 million SEK (2017)|
|Currently held by||Kazuo Ishiguro (2017)|
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. 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. Nobel bequeathed 94% of his total assets, 31 million Swedish kronor (US$198 million, €176 million in 2016), to establish and endow the five Nobel Prizes. Due to the level of scepticism surrounding the will, it was not until 26 April 1897 that the Storting (Norwegian Parliament) approved it. 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 7 June, the Swedish Academy on 9 June, and the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences on 11 June. 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. According to Nobel's will, the Royal Swedish Academy was to award the Prize in Literature.
Each year, the Swedish Academy sends out requests for nominations of candidates for the Nobel Prize in Literature. Members of the Academy, members of literature academies and societies, professors of literature and language, former Nobel literature laureates, and the presidents of writers' organizations are all allowed to nominate a candidate. It is not permitted to nominate oneself.
Thousands of requests are sent out each year, and as of 2011 about 220 proposals are returned. 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. By May, a short list of five names is approved by the Committee. The subsequent four months are then spent in reading and reviewing the works of the five candidates. 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. 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. Other elements of the process are similar to that of other Nobel Prizes. The judges are composed of an 18 member committee who are elected for life and up until 2018, not technically permitted to leave. On 2 May 2018, King Carl XVI Gustaf amended the rules of the academy and made it possible for members to resign. The new rules also state that a member who has been inactive in the work of the academy for more than two years can be asked to resign.
The award is usually announced in October. Sometimes, however, the award has been announced the year after the nominal year, the latest being the 2018 award. In the midst of controversy surrounding claims of sexual assault, conflict of interest, and resignations by officials, on 4 May 2018, the Swedish Academy announced that the 2018 laureate would be announced in 2019 along with the 2019 laureate.
A Literature Nobel Prize laureate earns a gold medal, a diploma bearing a citation, and a sum of money. The amount of money awarded depends on the income of the Nobel Foundation that year. 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. If a prize is awarded jointly to two or more laureates, the money is split among them.
The prize money of the Nobel Prize has been fluctuating since its inauguration but as of 2012 it stood at kr 8,000,000 (about US$1,100,000), previously it was kr 10,000,000. This was not the first time the prize-amount was decreased—beginning with a nominal value of kr 150,782 in 1901 (worth 8,123,951 in 2011 SEK) the nominal value has been as low as kr 121,333 (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.
The laureate is also invited to give a lecture during "Nobel Week" in Stockholm; the highlight is the prize-giving ceremony and banquet on 10 December. It is the richest literary prize in the world by a large margin.
The Nobel Prize medals, minted by Myntverket 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. 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. The medal for the Nobel Prize in Literature was designed by Erik Lindberg.
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. The Diploma contains a picture and text that states the name of the laureate and normally a citation of why they received the prize.
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 between 1901 and 1968 are available for public viewing. This secrecy has led to speculation about the next Nobel laureate.
What about the rumours circling around the world about certain people being nominated for the Nobel Prize this year? - Well, either it's just a rumour, or someone among the invited nominators has leaked information. Since the nominations are kept secret for 50 years, you'll have to wait until then to find out.— www.nobelprize.org, in Nomination FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions about the Nomination and Selection of Nobel Laureates
According to 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. Similarly, the Swedish Academy intended to award the 1945 prize to Paul Valery, who died that year.
From 1901 to 1912, the committee, headed by the conservative Carl David af Wirsén, weighed the literary quality of a work against its contribution towards humanity's struggle 'toward the ideal'. Tolstoy, Ibsen, Zola, and Mark Twain were rejected in favor of authors little read today.
The first prize in 1901, awarded to the french poet Sully Prudhomme, was heavily critizised. Many believed that the Russian author Leo Tolstoy should have been awarded the first Nobel prize in literature.
During World War I and its immediate aftermath, the committee adopted a policy of neutrality, favouring writers from non-combatant countries. 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. James Joyce wrote the books that rank 1st and 3rd on the Modern Library 100 Best Novels – Ulysses and Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man – but Joyce never won; as biographer Gordon Bowker wrote, "That prize was just out of Joyce's reach."
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". He was thus denied the prize.
Spanish playwright Àngel Guimerà, who wrote in the Catalan language was nominated twenty-three times for the Nobel Prize, though he never won, due to controversy about the political significance of the gesture. He was a candidate for the Nobel Prize in 1904, to be shared with the Provençal writer Frédéric Mistral, in recognition of their contributions to literature in non-official languages. Political pressure from Spain's central government having made this prize impossible, it was eventually awarded to Mistral and to the Spanish language playwright José Echegaray.
The choice of Selma Lagerlöf (Sweden 1858–1940) as Nobel Laureate in 1909 (for the 'lofty idealism, vivid imagination and spiritual perception that characterizes her writings') followed fierce debate because of her writing style and subject matter, which broke literary decorums of the time.
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.
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) and to statements that Auden made during a Scandinavian lecture tour suggesting that Hammarskjöld was, like Auden, homosexual.
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. 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". Steinbeck himself, when asked if he deserved the Nobel on the day of the announcement, replied: "Frankly, no." 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. The declassified documents showed that he was chosen as the best of a bad lot: "There aren't any obvious candidates for the Nobel prize and the prize committee is in an unenviable situation," wrote committee member Henry Olsson.
In 1964, Jean-Paul Sartre was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, but he wrote declining 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." Nevertheless he was awarded the prize.
Soviet dissident writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the 1970 prize laureate, did not attend the Nobel Prize ceremony in Stockholm for fear that the USSR 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.
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 members of the Swedish Academy at the time, and unknown outside their home country. Bellow received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1976; neither Greene nor Nabokov was awarded it.
Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges was nominated for the Prize several times but, as Edwin Williamson, Borges's biographer, states, the Academy did not award it to him, most likely because of his support of certain Argentine and Chilean right-wing military dictators, including Augusto Pinochet, which, according to Tóibín's review of Williamson's Borges: A Life, had complex social and personal contexts. Borges's failure to receive the Nobel Prize for his support of these right-wing dictators contrasts with the Committee honoring writers who openly supported controversial left-wing dictatorships, including Joseph Stalin, in the cases of Sartre and Pablo Neruda. Also, controversially, Gabriel García Márquez supported the Cuban Revolutionary and President Fidel Castro. In 1986, the Nigerian writer Wole Soyinka received the prize, regardless of the fact that he was alleged to have held a radio station up at gunpoint in his native country in 1965.
The award to Italian performance artist Dario Fo in 1997 was initially considered "rather lightweight" by some critics, as he was seen primarily as a performer, and Catholic organizations saw the award to Fo as controversial as he had previously been censured by the Roman Catholic Church. The Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano expressed surprise at Fo's selection for the prize commenting that "Giving the prize to someone who is also the author of questionable works is beyond all imagination." Salman Rushdie and Arthur Miller had been strongly favoured to receive the Prize, but the Nobel organisers were later quoted as saying that they would have been "too predictable, too popular."
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.
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.
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. 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.
The 2016 choice of Bob Dylan was the first time a musician and songwriter won the Nobel for Literature. The award caused some controversy, particularly among writers arguing that the literary merits of Dylan's work are not equal to those of some of his peers. Lebanese novelist Rabih Alameddine tweeted that "Bob Dylan winning a Nobel in Literature is like Mrs Fields being awarded 3 Michelin stars." The French Moroccan writer Pierre Assouline described the decision as "contemptuous of writers". In a live webchat hosted by The Guardian, Norwegian writer Karl Ove Knausgård said that "I'm very divided. I love that the novel committee opens up for other kinds of literature – lyrics and so on. I think that's brilliant. But knowing that Dylan is the same generation as Thomas Pynchon, Philip Roth, Cormac McCarthy, makes it very difficult for me to accept it." Scottish novelist Irvine Welsh said "I'm a Dylan fan, but this is an ill conceived nostalgia award wrenched from the rancid prostates of senile, gibbering hippies." Dylan's songwriting peer and friend Leonard Cohen said that no prizes were necessary to recognize the greatness of the man who transformed pop music with records like Highway 61 Revisited. "To me," Cohen said, "[the Nobel] is like pinning a medal on Mount Everest for being the highest mountain." Writer and commentator Will Self wrote that the award "cheapened" Dylan whilst hoping the laureate would "follow Sartre in rejecting the award".
The prize's focus on European men, and Swedes in particular, has been the subject of criticism, even from Swedish newspapers. The majority of laureates have been European, with Sweden itself receiving more prizes (8) than all of Asia (7, if Turkish Orhan Pamuk is included), as well as all of Latin America (7, if Saint Lucian Derek Walcott is included). In 2009, Horace Engdahl, then the permanent secretary of the Academy, declared that "Europe still is the centre of the literary world" and that "the US is too isolated, too insular. They don't translate enough and don't really participate in the big dialogue of literature."
In 2009, Engdahl's replacement, Peter Englund, rejected this sentiment ("In most language areas ... there are authors that really deserve and could get the Nobel Prize and that goes for the United States and the Americas, as well") and acknowledged the Eurocentric nature of the award, saying that, "I think that is a problem. We tend to relate more easily to literature written in Europe and in the European tradition." American critics are known to object that those from their own country, like Philip Roth, Thomas Pynchon, and Cormac McCarthy, have been overlooked, as have Latin Americans such as Jorge Luis Borges, 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.
The 2010 prize was awarded to Mario Vargas Llosa, a native of Peru in South America, a generally well-regarded decision. When the 2011 prize was awarded to the 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". 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 recipient, the Academy's desire for literary quality and the impossibility of rewarding everyone who deserves the prize.
In the history of the Nobel Prize in Literature, many literary achievements were overlooked. The literary historian Kjell Espmark admitted that "as to the early prizes, the censure of bad choices and blatant omissions is often justified. Tolstoy, Ibsen, and Henry James should have been rewarded instead of, for instance, Sully Prudhomme, Eucken, and Heyse". There are omissions which are beyond the control of the Nobel Committee such as the early death of an author as was the case with Marcel Proust, Italo Calvino, and Roberto Bolaño. According to Kjell Espmark "the main works of Kafka, Cavafy, and Pessoa were not published until after their deaths and the true dimensions of Mandelstam's poetry were revealed above all in the unpublished poems that his wife saved from extinction and gave to the world long after he had perished in his Siberian exile". 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" 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?"
Membership in the 18-member committee, who select the recipients, is technically for life. Members are not allowed to leave, although they might refuse to participate. For members who do not participate their board seat is left vacant until they die. Twelve active/participating members are required for a quorum.
In April 2018, three members of the academy board resigned in response to a sexual-misconduct investigation involving author Jean-Claude Arnault who is married to board member Katarina Frostenson. Arnault was accused by at least 18 women of sexual assault and harassment. He and his wife were also accused of leaking the names of prize recipients on at least seven occasions so friends could profit from bets. He denied all accusations, although he would later be convicted of rape and sentenced to two years and six months in prison. The three members resigned in protest over the decision by Sara Danius, the board secretary, not to take what they felt was appropriate legal action against Arnault. Two former permanent secretaries, Sture Allén and Horace Engdahl, called Danius a weak leader.
On 10 April, Danius was asked to resign from her position by the Academy, bringing the number of empty seats to four.. Although the Academy voted against removing Katarina Frostenson from the committee, she voluntarily agreed to withdraw from participating in the academy, bringing the total of withdrawals to five. Because two other seats were still vacant from the Rushdie affair, this left only 11 active members, one short of the quorum needed to vote in replacements. On 4 May 2018, the Swedish Academy announced that the selection will be postponed until 2019, when two laureates will be chosen. It was still technically possible to choose a 2018 laureate, as only eight active members are required to choose a recipient. However, there were concerns that the academy was not in any condition to credibly present the award. The New Academy Prize in Literature was created as an alternative award for 2018 only.
The scandal was widely seen as damaging to the credibility of the prize and its authority. "With this scandal you cannot possibly say that this group of people has any kind of solid judgment," noted Swedish journalist Björn Wiman. As noted by Andrew Brown in The Guardian in a lengthy deconstruction of the scandal:
"The scandal has elements of a tragedy, in which people who set out to serve literature and culture discovered they were only pandering to writers and the people who hang around with them. The pursuit of excellence in art was entangled with the pursuit of social prestige. The academy behaved as if the meals in its clubhouse were as much an accomplishment as the work that got people elected there."
On 4 August, one of the most influential newspapers in Africa, Nairobi's Daily Nation released a fairly extensive article on the Nobel Prize for Literature, in which the author proposes to turn most often to the winners of other international literary awards, such as the Man Booker International Prize, the Neustadt International Prize for Literature, or the Grand Prix of Literary Associations.
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, the Man Booker International Prize, and in the 1960s the Formentor Prix International. In contrast to the other prizes mentioned, the Neustadt International Prize is 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". The Man Booker International Prize "highlights one writer's overall contribution to fiction on the world stage" and "has literary excellence as its sole focus". 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. 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. 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.
Another award of note is the Spanish Princess of Asturias Award (formerly 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 writers in other languages have been awarded as well. Writers who have won both the Asturias Award in Letters and the Nobel Prize in Literature include Camilo José Cela, Günter Grass, Doris Lessing and Mario Vargas Llosa.
The America Award in Literature, which does not include a monetary prize, presents itself as an alternative to the Nobel Prize in Literature. To date, Harold Pinter and José Saramago are the only writers to have received both the America Award and the Nobel Prize in Literature.
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 Hans Christian Andersen Award is sometimes referred to as "the Little Nobel". The award has earned this appellation since, in a similar manner to the Nobel Prize in Literature, it recognizes the lifetime achievement of writers, though the Andersen Award focuses on a single category of literary works (children's literature).
Few people would deny Harold Pinter is a worthy recipient of the 2005 Nobel Prize in Literature. As a poet, screenwriter and author of more than 30 plays, he has dominated the English literary scene for half a century. However, his outspoken criticism of US foreign policy and opposition to the war in Iraq undoubtedly make him one of the more controversial figures to be awarded this prestigious honour. Indeed, the Nobel academy's decision could be read in some quarters as a selection with an inescapably political element. 'There is the view that the Nobel literature prize often goes to someone whose political stance is found to be sympathetic at a given moment,' said Alan Jenkins, deputy editor of the Times Literary Supplement. 'For the last 10 years he has been more angry and vituperative, and that cannot have failed to be noticed.' However, Mr Jenkins insists that, though Pinter's political views may have been a factor, the award is more than justified on artistic criteria alone. 'His dramatic and literary achievement is head and shoulders above any other British writer. He is far and away the most interesting, the best, the most powerful and most original of English playwrights.'
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.
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.
Not many women, a weakness for Anglo-Saxon literature and an ostrich-like ability to resist popular or political pressure. Alex Duval Smith reports from Stockholm on the strange and secret world of the Swedish Academy.
Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. () is a New York publishing house that was founded by Alfred A. Knopf Sr. and Blanche Knopf in 1915. Blanche and Alfred traveled abroad regularly and were known for publishing European, Asian, and Latin American writers in addition to leading American literary trends. It was acquired by Random House in 1960, which was later acquired by Bertelsmann in 1998, and is now part of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. The Knopf publishing house is associated with its borzoi colophon, which was designed by co-founder Blanche Knopf in 1925.Alice Munro
Alice Ann Munro (, née Laidlaw ; born 10 July 1931) is a Canadian short-story writer who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2013. Munro's work has been described as having revolutionized the architecture of short stories, especially in its tendency to move forward and backward in time. Her stories have been said to "embed more than announce, reveal more than parade."Munro's fiction is most often set in her native Huron County in southwestern Ontario. Her stories explore human complexities in an uncomplicated prose style. Munro's writing has established her as "one of our greatest contemporary writers of fiction", or, as Cynthia Ozick put it, "our Chekhov." Munro is the recipient of many literary accolades, including the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature for her work as "master of the contemporary short story", and the 2009 Man Booker International Prize for her lifetime body of work. She is also a three-time winner of Canada's Governor General's Award for fiction and was the recipient of the Writers' Trust of Canada's 1996 Marian Engel Award, as well as the 2004 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize for Runaway.French literature
This article is a general introduction to French literature. For detailed information on French literature in specific historic periods, see the separate historical articles in the template to the right.French literature is, generally speaking, literature written in the French language, particularly by citizens of France; it may also refer to literature written by people living in France who speak traditional languages of France other than French. Literature written in French language, by citizens of other nations such as Belgium, Switzerland, Canada, Senegal, Algeria, Morocco, etc. is referred to as Francophone literature. France itself ranks first in the list of Nobel Prizes in literature by country.
French literature has been for French people an object of national pride for centuries, and it has been one of the most influential components of the literature of Europe.The French language is a Romance language derived from Latin and heavily influenced principally by Celtic and Frankish. Beginning in the 11th century, literature written in medieval French was one of the oldest vernacular (non-Latin) literatures in western Europe and it became a key source of literary themes in the Middle Ages across the continent.
Although the European prominence of French literature was eclipsed in part by vernacular literature in Italy in the 14th century, literature in France in the 16th century underwent a major creative evolution, and through the political and artistic programs of the Ancien Régime, French literature came to dominate European letters in the 17th century.
In the 18th century, French became the literary lingua franca and diplomatic language of western Europe (and, to a certain degree, in America), and French letters have had a profound impact on all European and American literary traditions while at the same time being heavily influenced by these other national traditions Africa, and the far East have brought the French language to non-European cultures that are transforming and adding to the French literary experience today.
Under the aristocratic ideals of the Ancien Régime (the "honnête homme"), the nationalist spirit of post-revolutionary France, and the mass educational ideals of the Third Republic and modern France, the French have come to have a profound cultural attachment to their literary heritage. Today, French schools emphasize the study of novels, theater and poetry (often learnt by heart). The literary arts are heavily sponsored by the state and literary prizes are major news. The Académie française(which was established by CardinalRichelieu) and the Institut de France are important linguistic and artistic institutions in France, and French television features shows on writers and poets (one of the most watched shows on French television was Apostrophes, a weekly talk show on literature and the arts). Literature matters deeply to the people of France and plays an important role in their sense of identity.
As of 2006, French literary people have been awarded more Nobel Prizes in Literature than novelists, poets and essayists of any other country. (However, writers in English—USA, UK, India, Ireland, South Africa, Australia, Canada, Nigeria and Saint Lucia—have won twice as many Nobels as the French.) 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 winner. A writer must refuse to allow himself to be transformed into an institution, even if it takes place in the most honorable form."Gaomi
Gaomi (Chinese: 高密市; pinyin: Gāomì Shì) is a county-level city of eastern Shandong province, China, under the administration of Weifang City. It is the hometown of writer and 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature winner Mo Yan, who has set some of his stories in the region.Georg Büchner Prize
The Georg Büchner Prize (German: Georg-Büchner-Preis) is the most important literary prize for the German language, along with the Goethe Prize. The award is named after Georg Büchner, author of Woyzeck. The Georg Büchner Prize is awarded annually for authors "writing in the German language who have notably emerged through their oeuvre as essential contributors to the shaping of contemporary German cultural life".Humboldt's Gift
Humboldt's Gift is a 1975 novel by Canadian-American author Saul Bellow. It won the 1976 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and contributed to Bellow's winning the Nobel Prize in Literature the same year.Italian poetry
Italian poetry is a category of Italian literature.List of Christian Nobel laureates
65% of Nobel prize winners have been Christians. Here is a non exhaustive list of some of the prize winners who publicly identified themselves as Christians.List of Nobel laureates in Literature
The Nobel Prize in Literature (Swedish: Nobelpriset i litteratur) is awarded annually by the Swedish Academy to authors for outstanding contributions in the field of literature. It is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the 1895 will of Alfred Nobel, which are awarded for outstanding contributions in chemistry, physics, literature, peace, and physiology or medicine. As dictated by Nobel's will, the award is administered by the Nobel Foundation and awarded by a committee that consists of five members elected by the Swedish Academy. The first Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded in 1901 to Sully Prudhomme of France. Each recipient receives a medal, a diploma and a monetary award prize that has varied throughout the years. In 1901, Prudhomme received 150,782 SEK, which is equivalent to 8,823,637.78 SEK in January 2018. The award is presented in Stockholm at an annual ceremony on December 10, the anniversary of Nobel's death.As of 2017, the Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded to 114 individuals. When he received the award in 1958, Russian-born Boris Pasternak was forced to publicly reject the award under pressure from the government of the Soviet Union. In 1964, Jean-Paul Sartre made known that he did not wish to accept the Nobel Prize in Literature, as he had consistently refused all official honors in the past. However the Nobel committee does not acknowledge refusals, and includes Pasternak and Sartre in its list of Nobel laureates.Fourteen women have won the Nobel Prize in Literature, more than any other Nobel Prize with the exception of the Nobel Peace Prize. There have been four instances in which the award was given to two people (1904, 1917, 1966, 1974). There have been eight years in which the Nobel Prize in Literature was not awarded (1914, 1918, 1935, 1940–1943, 2018). The country with the most recipients of the Nobel Prize in Literature is France with 16, followed by the United States with 12 and the United Kingdom with 11.List of awards and nominations received by Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan has received many accolades throughout his long career as a songwriter and performing artist. Dylan's professional career began in 1961 when he signed with Columbia Records. Fifty-five years later, in 2016, Dylan continued to release new recordings and was the first musician to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature.List of female Nobel laureates
As of 2018, Nobel Prizes have been awarded to 853 men, 51 women (Marie Curie won it twice), and 24 unique organizations.The distribution of female Nobel Laureates is as follows:
seventeen women have won the Nobel Peace Prize,
fourteen have won the Nobel Prize in Literature,
twelve have won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine,
five have won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry,
three have won the Nobel Prize in Physics,
and one, Elinor Ostrom, has won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.The first woman to win a Nobel Prize was Marie Curie, who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1903 with her husband, Pierre Curie, and Henri Becquerel. Curie is also the only woman to have won multiple Nobel Prizes; in 1911, she won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Curie's daughter, Irène Joliot-Curie, won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1935, making the two the only mother-daughter pair to have won Nobel Prizes.The most Nobel Prizes awarded to women in a single year was in 2009, when five women became laureates in four categories.
The most recent women to be awarded a Nobel Prize were Donna Strickland in Physics, Frances Arnold in Chemistry, and Nadia Murad for Peace (2018).Miguel de Cervantes Prize
The Miguel de Cervantes Prize (Spanish: Premio de Literatura en Lengua Castellana Miguel de Cervantes) is awarded annually to honour the lifetime achievement of an outstanding writer in the Spanish language.Mo Yan
Guan Moye (simplified Chinese: 管谟业; traditional Chinese: 管謨業; pinyin: Guǎn Móyè; born 17 February 1955), better known by the pen name Mo Yan (, Chinese: 莫言; pinyin: Mò Yán), is a Chinese novelist and short story writer. Donald Morrison of U.S. news magazine TIME referred to him as "one of the most famous, oft-banned and widely pirated of all Chinese writers", and Jim Leach called him the Chinese answer to Franz Kafka or Joseph Heller.He is best known to Western readers for his 1987 novel Red Sorghum Clan, of which the Red Sorghum and Sorghum Wine volumes were later adapted for the film Red Sorghum. In 2012, Mo was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for his work as a writer "who with hallucinatory realism merges folk tales, history and the contemporary".Nigerian literature
Nigerian literature is the literature of Nigeria which is written by Nigerians, for Nigerians and addresses Nigerian issues. It is written in English, Igbo, Urhobo, Yoruba, Hausa, and the other languages of the country. The languages used by authors in Nigeria are based in part on geography, with authors in the northern part of the country writing in Hausa. Nigerian authors have won numerous accolades, including the Nobel Prize in Literature and the Man Booker.The Old Man and the Sea
The Old Man and the Sea is a short novel written by the American author Ernest Hemingway in 1951 in Cuba, and published in 1952. It was the last major work of fiction by Hemingway that was published during his lifetime. One of his most famous works, it tells the story of Santiago, an aging Cuban fisherman who struggles with a giant marlin far out in the Gulf Stream off the coast of Cuba.In 1953, The Old Man and the Sea was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and it was cited by the Nobel Committee as contributing to their awarding of the Nobel Prize in Literature to Hemingway in 1954.The Solitude of Latin America
"The Solitude of Latin America" is the title of the speech given by Gabriel García Márquez upon receiving his Nobel Prize in Literature on 8 December 1982. The Nobel Prize was presented to García Márquez by Professor Lars Gyllensten of the Swedish Academy.García Márquez gained fame for his novel One Hundred Years of Solitude, first published in 1967. According to the Nobel Foundation, García Márquez was awarded the 1982 Nobel Prize in Literature for “his novels and short stories, in which the fantastic and the realistic are combined in a richly composed world of imagination, reflecting a continent’s life and conflicts". The style of prose to which the Nobel Foundation refers is known as magic realism, a broadly descriptive term critics use to describe García Márquez's work.Tomas Tranströmer
Tomas Gösta Tranströmer (Swedish: [ˈtʊmːas ²jœsːta ²trɑːnˌstrœmːɛr]; 15 April 1931 – 26 March 2015) was a Swedish poet, psychologist and translator. His poems captured the long Swedish winters, the rhythm of the seasons and the palpable, atmospheric beauty of nature. Tranströmer's work is also characterized by a sense of mystery and wonder underlying the routine of everyday life, a quality which often gives his poems a religious dimension. He has been described as a Christian poet.Tranströmer is acclaimed as one of the most important Scandinavian writers since the Second World War. Critics praised his poetry for its accessibility, even in translation. His poetry has been translated into over 60 languages. He was the recipient of the 1990 Neustadt International Prize for Literature and the 2011 Nobel Prize in Literature.Wisława Szymborska
Maria Wisława Anna Szymborska [vʲiˈswava ʂɨmˈbɔrska] (2 July 1923 – 1 February 2012) was a Polish poet, essayist, translator and recipient of the 1996 Nobel Prize in Literature. Born in Prowent, which has since become part of Kórnik, she later resided in Kraków until the end of her life. In Poland, Szymborska's books have reached sales rivaling prominent prose authors: although she once remarked in a poem, "Some Like Poetry" ("Niektórzy lubią poezję"), that no more than two out of a thousand people care for the art.Szymborska was awarded the 1996 Nobel Prize in Literature "for poetry that with ironic precision allows the historical and biological context to come to light in fragments of human reality". She became better known internationally as a result of this. Her work has been translated into English and many European languages, as well as into Arabic, Hebrew, Japanese, Persian and Chinese.
1 Nobel Memorial Prize (not one of the original Nobel Prizes).
Laureates of the Nobel Prize in Literature