Nobel Prize in Literature

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Nobel Prize in Literature
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{{Short description|One of the five Nobel Prizes established in 1895 by Alfred Nobel}}{{Use dmy dates|date=October 2019}}

| website = nobelprize.orgNobel Prize in Literature 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").WEB,weblink The Nobel Prize in Literature, 13 October 2007,, NEWS, John Sutherland, Ink and Spit, The Guardian,weblink Guardian Unlimited Books, 13 October 2007, 13 October 2007, 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, most recently in 2018.


File:Sully-Prudhomme.jpg|thumb|In 1901, French poet and essayist Sully PrudhommeSully PrudhommeAlfred 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.WEB,weblink History – Historic Figures: Alfred Nobel (1833–1896), BBC, 15 January 2010, WEB,weblink Guide to Nobel Prize,, 15 January 2010, 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.Ragnar Sohlman: 1983, Page 7NEWS, von Euler, U.S., The Nobel Foundation and its Role for Modern Day Science,weblink PDF, Springer-Verlag, Die Naturwissenschaften, 6 June 1981, 21 January 2010, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 14 July 2011, dmy-all, 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."The Will of Alfred Nobel", Retrieved 6 November 2007. Due to the level of scepticism surrounding the will, it was not until 26 April 1897 that the Storting (Norwegian Parliament) approved it.WEB,weblink The Nobel Foundation – History,, 12 October 2010, Agneta Wallin Levinovitz: 2001, Page 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 7 June, the Swedish Academy on 9 June, and the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences on 11 June.WEB,weblink Nobel Prize History —,, 13 October 1999, 15 January 2010, WEB, Encyclopædia Britannica,weblink Nobel Foundation (Scandinavian organisation) – Britannica Online Encyclopedia,, 15 January 2010, 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.AFP, "Alfred Nobel's last will and testament" {{webarchive |url= |date=9 October 2009 }}, The Local(5 October 2009): accessed 20 January 2010."Nobel Prize" (2007), in Encyclopædia Britannica, accessed 15 January 2009, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online: According to Nobel's will, the prize in literature should be determined by “the Academy in Stockholm”, which was specified by the statutes of the Nobel Foundation to mean the Swedish Academy.Kjell Espmark: The Nobel Prize in Literature

Nomination and award procedure

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.WEB,weblink Nomination for the Nobel Prize in Literature, 13 October 2007,,weblink" title="">weblink 11 October 2007, Thousands of requests are sent out each year, and {{as of|2011|lc=y}} about 220 proposals are returned.Per Wästberg (President of The Nobel Committee for Literature), "Do We Need the Nobel?", The New York Review of Books, 22 December 2011. Last accessed December 2011. 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.WEB,weblink Nomination and Selection of the Nobel Laureates in Literature, 13 October 2007,,weblink" title="">weblink 11 October 2007, 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.NEWS, Holmgren, Mia, Kungen: Det är nu Akademiens ansvar att vidta nödvändiga åtgärder, The King: The Academy is now responsible for taking necessary action,weblink 4 May 2018, Dagens Nyheter, Dagens Nyheter, 2 May 2018, NEWS, Nilsson, Christoffer, Kungen ändrar Akademiens stadgar, The King alters Academy rules,weblink 4 May 2018, Aftonbladet, Aftonbladet, 18 April 2018, 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.WEB, Tom Rivers,weblink 2009 Nobel Laureates Receive Their Honors - Europe- English,, 10 December 2009, 15 January 2010, The amount of money awarded depends on the income of the Nobel Foundation that year.WEB,weblink The Nobel Prize Amounts,, 12 October 2011, 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."Nobel Prize – Prizes" (2007), in Encyclopædia Britannica, accessed 15 January 2009, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online: 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|lc=y}} it stood at {{currency|8,000,000|SEK}} (about {{currency|1,100,000|USD}}), previously it was {{currency|10,000,000|SEK|linked=no}}.WEB,weblink 11 June 2012, The Size of the Nobel Prize Is Being Reduced to Safeguard Long-Term Capital, 11 June 2012, Nobel official website., WEB,weblink The Nobel Prize Amount, 13 October 2007,, This was not the first time the prize-amount was decreased—beginning with a nominal value of {{currency|150,782|SEK|linked=no}} in 1901 (worth 8,123,951 in 2011 SEK) the nominal value has been as low as {{currency|121,333|SEK|linked=no}} (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.WEB,weblink Nobel Prize Amounts, Nobel website, 12 June 2012, 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.WEB,weblink The Nobel Prize Award Ceremonies, 13 October 2007,,weblink" title="">weblink 11 October 2007, It is the richest literary prize in the world by a large margin.


The Nobel Prize medals, minted by MyntverketWEB, Medalj – ett traditionellt hantverk, Myntverket,weblink Swedish, 15 December 2007, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 18 December 2007, dmy-all, 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 Nobel Prize for Peace" {{webarchive|url= |date=16 September 2009 }}, "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. 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."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. The medal for the Nobel Prize in Literature was designed by Erik Lindberg.WEB, The Nobel Medal for Literature,weblink, The Nobel Foundation, 11 November 2014,


Nobel laureates receive a Diploma directly from the King of Sweden. Each Diploma is uniquely designed by the prize-awarding institutions for the laureate who receives it.WEB,weblink The Nobel Prize Diplomas,, 12 October 2011, The Diploma contains a picture and text that states the name of the laureate and normally a citation of why they received the prize.


The Nobel Prize in Literature have been awarded to acclaimed writers like Rudyard Kipling, Anatole France, William Butler Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, Thomas Mann, Luigi Pirandello, Eugene O'Neill, André Gide, T. S. Eliot, William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway and Samuel Beckett.

Potential candidates

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.WEB, The Nomination Database for the Nobel Prize in Literature, 1901–1965,weblink, 12 March 2016, ||source=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.BOOK, Jeffrey C. Kinkley, Selected Stories of Shen Congwen,weblink 2004, Chinese University Press, 978-9629961107, xiv, Similarly, the Swedish Academy intended to award the 1945 prize to Paul Valery, who died that year.Den svenska litteraturen IV, Albert Bonniers förlag 1989, page 150 (in swedish)


Although the Nobel Prize in Literature has become the world's most prestigious literature prize,WEB, Nobel Prize {{!, award|url=|website=Encyclopædia Britannica|accessdate=18 October 2016}} 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 political tastes different from theirs.BOOK, Feldman, Burton, The Nobel Prize: A History of Genius, Controversy, and Prestige, Arcade Publishing, 978-1-55970-592-9, 58,weblink 18 October 2016, en, 2000, 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...".NEWS, Parks, Tim, What's Wrong With the Nobel Prize in Literature,weblink 18 October 2016, The New York Review of Books, 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.NEWS, Altman, Anna, What Is a Nobel Prize Really Worth?,weblink 18 October 2016, Op-Talk, 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".NEWS, Kjell Espmark, The Nobel Prize in Literature,weblink, 3 December 1999, 14 August 2006, 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.

Controversies about Nobel Laureate selections

File:Selma Lagerlof nobel prize illustration.png|right|thumb|Selma Lagerlöf, the first female writer to be awarded a Nobel Prize in literature, faced major controversies. Illustration from Svenska DagbladetSvenska DagbladetFrom 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'. Leo Tolstoy, Henrik Ibsen, Émile Zola, and Mark Twain were rejected in favor of authors little read today.BOOK, Eldridge, Richard, The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy and Literature, Oxford University Press, 978-0-19-972410-9, 288,weblink 18 October 2016, en, 27 March 2009, The first prize in 1901, awarded to the French poet Sully Prudhomme, was heavily criticised. Many believed that the acclaimed Russian author Tolstoy should have been awarded the first Nobel prize in literature.Helmer Lång 100 nobelpris i litteratur 1901-2001, Bokförlaget Symposium 2001 {{ISBN|91-7139-537-7}} (in swedish)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'BOOK, Guinness World Records 2011, Glenday, Craig, 2010, 978-1-904994-57-2, ) followed fierce debate because of her writing style and subject matter, which broke literary decorums of the time.WEB,weblink Article (in Swedish): "Violent debate in the Academy when Lagerlöf was elected". 25 September 2009, sv,, 3 February 2012, WEB,weblink Sebastian Nilsson, Lindberg, Writer Portrait: Selma Lagerlöf, The Literary Magazine of Swedish Books and Writers, 17 March 2017, During World War I and its immediate aftermath, the committee adopted a policy of neutrality, favouring writers from non-combatant countries. The pacifistic author Romain Rolland was awarded the prize for 1915. Other years during the war Scandinavian writers were favoured, or the award was postponed.Helmer Lång ''100 nobelpris i litteratur 1901-2001, Symposion 2001, page 78-92In 1931 the prize was awarded posthumously to the poet and former permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy Erik Axel Karlfeldt, who had died earlier that year. The prize was controversial not just because it was the first and only time the nobel prize in literature was awarded posthumously, but because the Academy had previously awarded two other Swedish writers of the same literary era, Selma Lagerlöf in 1909 and Verner von Heidenstam in 1916. Internationally it was heavily critizised as few had heard of Karlfeldt.Helmer Lång, 100 nobelpris i litteratur 1901-2001, Symposion 2001, page 131In 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.WEB,weblink Swedish Academy reopens controversy surrounding Steinbeck's Nobel prize, The Guardian, Alison Flood, 3 January 2013, 3 January 2013, 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."WEB, English, Jason, Odd facts about Nobel Prize winners,weblink CNN, 11 November 2014, Nevertheless he was awarded the prize.WEB,weblink All Nobel Prizes, 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).BOOK,weblink Samizdat and Political Dissent in the Soviet Union, Feldbrugge, F. J. M., 1975, A.W. Sijthoff, 9789028601758, Leyden, 24, 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.Stig Fredrikson, "How I Helped Alexandr Solzhenitsyn Smuggle His Nobel Lecture from the USSR",, 22 February 2006. Retrieved 12 October 2011.In 1974, Graham Greene, Vladimir Nabokov, and Saul Bellow were believed to be likely candidates for the prize but the Academy decided on a joint award for Swedish authors Eyvind Johnson and Harry Martinson, both members of the Swedish Academy at the time,WEB, Barkman, Clas, Tidigare val av svenska Nobelpristagare hårt kritiserade, Previous choices of Swedish Nobel Laureates severely criticized, 6 October 2011,weblink, Dagens Nyheter, 28 January 2016, and unknown outside their home country.WEB, Hansson, Anita, Martinson begick harakiri, Martinson committed hara-kiri,weblink, 31 August 2000, Aftonbladet, 29 January 2016, WEB, Shankar, Ravi, A Prize With a View,weblink, 12 October 2014, The New Indian Express, 28 January 2016, Bellow received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1976; neither Greene nor Nabokov was awarded it.NEWS, Alex Duval Smith, A Nobel Calling: 100 Years of Controversy, The Independent,,weblink 14 October 2005, 26 April 2008, 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., dead,weblink" title="">weblink 24 December 2007, The award to Italian performance artist Dario Fo in 1997 was initially considered "rather lightweight"NEWS, Rahim, Sameer, Who is Herta Müller, laureate of the Nobel Prize for literature 2009?,weblink 25 May 2012, The Telegraph, 9 October 2009, 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.WEB,weblink The Catholic Spirit: 'Pope and Witch' draws Catholic protests, 27 February 2007, Carroll, Julie, Catholic Online, 13 October 2007,weblink" title="">weblink 2 February 2008, 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."NEWS, Bohlen, Celestine, Italy's Barbed Political Jester, Dario Fo, Wins Nobel Prize,weblink 25 May 2012, The New York Times, 10 October 1997, 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.""Nobel Stuns Italy's Left-wing Jester", The Times, 10 October 1997, rpt. in Archives of a list at Retrieved 17 October 2007.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.Unearthing Franco's Legacy, p.17, University of Notre Dame Press.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.NEWS, Nobel Judge Steps Down in Protest, BBC,weblink BBC News Online, 11 October 2005, 13 October 2007, Associated Press, "Who Deserves Nobel Prize? Judges Don't Agree", MSNBC, 11 October 2005. Retrieved 13 October 2007.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.NEWS, Neil Smith,weblink 'Political element' to Pinter Prize, BBC News,, 13 October 2005, 26 April 2008, 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 United States, US foreign policy and opposition to 2003 invasion of Iraq, 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.', 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.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.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."Bob Dylan winning a Nobel in Literature is like Mrs Fields being awarded 3 Michelin stars, Rabih Alameddine's Twitter page, 13 October 2016. The French writer Pierre Assouline described the decision as "contemptuous of writers".Le bras d'honneur des Nobel à la littérature américaine, La Républic, Ocbtober 13, 2016. 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."Karl Ove Knausgaard webchat – your questions answered on self-loathing, love and Jürgen Klopp, The Guardian, 17 October 2016. 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."WEB,weblink Don't think twice, it's all right: Bob Dylan wins Nobel Lit, Associated Press, Yahoo! News, 13 October 2016, 13 October 2016, 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."Leonard Cohen: giving Nobel to Bob Dylan like 'pinning medal on Everest', Guardian, 13 October 2016. Writer and commentator Will Self wrote that the award "cheapened" Dylan whilst hoping the laureate would "follow Sartre in rejecting the award".WEB, 'Dylan towers over everyone' – Salman Rushdie, Kate Tempest and more pay tribute to Bob Dylan,weblink The Guardian, 14 October 2016,

Nationality-based criticism

File:Albert Camus, gagnant de prix Nobel, portrait en buste, posé au bureau, faisant face à gauche, cigarette de tabagisme.jpg|thumb|upright|French author Albert CamusAlbert CamusThe prize's focus on European men, and Swedes in particular, has been the subject of criticism, even from Swedish newspapers.Dagens Nyheter Akademien väljer helst en europé (The Academy prefers to pick a European) 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."WEB, Kirsch, Adam,weblink The Nobel Committee has no clue about American literature,, 3 October 2008, 16 June 2010, 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."WEB,weblink Judge: Nobel literature prizes 'too Eurocentric' - World news -, Guardian, 6 October 2009, 5 February 2010, 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.WEB,weblink Herta Mueller Wins Nobel Prize in Literature, 9 October 2009, Jordan, Mary, Washington Post, 6 October 2017, 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".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"." 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.NEWS, Sven, Grundberg, Jens, Hansegard,weblink So no American this year, yet again. Why is that?, The Wall Street Journal, 9 October 2014, 9 October 2014,

Overlooked literary achievements

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".WEB, Espmark, Kjell, Nobel's Will and the Literature Prize,weblink, 6 May 2012, 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"WEB, Parks, Tim, What's Wrong With the Nobel Prize in Literature,weblink New York Review of Books, 28 May 2012, 6 October 2011, 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?"Although several Scandinavians were awarded, the celebrated Swedish author 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.BOOK, Innes, edited by Frederick J. Marker, Christopher, Modernism in European drama : Ibsen, Strindberg, Pirandello, Beckett : essays from Modern drama, 1998, University of Toronto Press, Toronto, 978-0-8020-8206-0,weblink xi, BOOK, Steene, selected, translated, and edited by Egil Törnqvist and Birgitta, Strindberg on drama and theatre : a source book, 2007, Amsterdam University Press, Amsterdam, 978-90-5356-020-4,weblink 189, BOOK, Warme, edited by Lars G., A history of Scandinavian literatures., 1996, Univ. of Nebraska Press in cooperation with the American-Scandinavian Foundation, Lincoln, Neb., 978-0-8032-4750-5,weblink 271, 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 always was just out of Joyce's reach."Gordon Bowker. James Joyce: A New Biography. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2011. p. 537Argentine 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.NEWS, Colm Tóibín,weblink Don't Abandon Me, The London Review of Books, 11 May 2006, 13 October 2007, 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.New studies agree that Beauvoir is eclipsing Sartre as a philosopher and writer The Independent 25 May 2008. Retrieved on 4 January 2009.Textos escondidos de Pablo Neruda Libros 14 April 2005. Retrieved on 4 January 2009. Also controversially, Gabriel García Márquez supported the Cuban Revolutionary and President Fidel Castro.WEB, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Fidel Castro: A controversial friendship,weblink The Economic Times, 18 April 2014, 18 April 2014, 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.Olivier Truc, "Et Camus obtint enfin le prix Nobel". Le Monde, 28 December 2008.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)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,, accessed 26 April 2008: "Swedish dismay at the mangled translation may have cost Auden the Nobel prize in literature." and to statements that Auden made during a Scandinavian lecture tour suggesting that Hammarskjöld was, like Auden, homosexual.Alex Hunnicutt, "Dag Hammarskjöld" {{webarchive|url= |date=19 October 2006 }}, glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Culture (Heldref Publications, 2004),, 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."

Controversies about Swedish Academy board members

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.WEB,weblink In Nobel Scandal, a Man Is Accused of Sexual Misconduct. A Woman Takes the Fall., The New York Times, Christina Anderson, 12 April 2018, 13 April 2018, Twelve active/participating members are required for a quorum.In 1989, three members resigned in protest after the academy refused to denounce Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini for calling for the death of Salman Rushdie, author of The Satanic Verses.WEB,weblink 3 judges quit Nobel literature prize committee, The Washington Times, Associated Press, David Keyton, 6 April 2018, 6 May 2018,

2018 controversy and award cancellation

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.WEB,weblink The Nobel Prize for Literature Is a Scandal All by Itself, New York Times, Tim Parks, 4 May 2018, 5 May 2018, He denied all accusations, although he was later convicted of rape and sentenced to two years and six months in prison.NEWS, Tougher sentence for Jean-Claude Arnault after appeals trial,weblink 3 December 2018, The Local, 3 December 2018, The Local, NEWS, Malmgren, Kim, Wikström, Mattis, Jean-Claude Arnault döms till två års fängelse, Jean-Claude Arnault sentenced to two years in prison,weblink 1 October 2018, Expressen, 1 October 2018, NEWS, Andersson, Christina, Nobel Panel Admits Inquiry Found Sexual Misconduct, but Nothing Illegal,weblink The New York Times, 20 April 2018, 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.WEB,weblink Sexual Misconduct Claim Spurs Nobel Members to Step Aside in Protest, The New York Times, Reuters, 6 April 2018, 7 April 2018, 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.NEWS, Åkerman, Felicia, Sara Danius lämnar Svenska Akademien, Sara Danius leaves the Swedeish Academy,weblink 4 May 2018, Dagens Industri, 12 April 2018, Although the Academy voted against removing Katarina Frostenson from the committee,WEB, Christopher Hooton,weblink Nobel Prize in Literature will not be awarded this year after sex abuse allegations, en, The Independent,weblink 4 May 2018, live, 4 May 2018, 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 would be postponed until 2019, when two laureates would 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.NEWS, Nobel Prize for Literature postponed amid Swedish Academy turmoil,weblink 4 May 2018, 4 May 2018, BBC, WEB, Press release, Svenska Akademien skjuter upp 2018 års Nobelpris i litteratur,weblink Svenska Akademin, Swedish Academy, 4 May 2018, NEWS, Wixe, Susanne, Detta har hänt: Krisen i Svenska Akademien – på 3 minuter, Previously: The crisis in the Swedish Academy in 3 minutes,weblink 4 May 2018, Aftonbladet, 10 April 2018, NEWS,weblink Why There Won't Be a Nobel Prize in Literature This Year, Christina Anderson, Palko Karasz, The New York Times, 2 May 2018, The New Academy Prize in Literature was created as an alternative award for 2018 only.WEB,weblink Four writers shortlisted for 'the new Nobel Literature Prize', Emma, Löfgren, The Local, 29 August 2018, 11 September 2018, 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:}}King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden said a reform of the rules may be evaluated, including the introduction of the right to resign in respect of the current lifelong membership of the committee.WEB,weblink Nobel Prize-awarding Swedish Academy weighs reforms after controversy,, 13 April 2018, Stockholm,weblink 13 April 2018, live, On 5 March 2019, it was announced that the Nobel Prize in Literature would once again be awarded, and laureates for both 2018 and 2019 would be announced together. The decision came after several changes were made to the structure of the Swedish Academy as well as to the Nobel Committee members selection, in order to "[restore] trust in the Academy as a prize-awarding institution".WEB,weblink Nobel Prize in Literature to be awarded again, The Nobel Prize, 5 March 2019, 16 July 2019,

Similar international prizes

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 International Booker Prize when it was previously awarded for a writer's entire body of work, 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 International Booker Prize "is fast becoming the more significant award, appearing an ever more competent alternative to the Nobel".NEWS, Anderson, Hephzibah, Alice Munro: The mistress of all she surveys,weblink 28 May 2012, The Guardian, 31 May 2009, However since 2016 the International Booker Prize now awards an annual book of fiction translated into English.WEB, Orthofor, Michael, Man Booker Independent International Foreign Fiction Prize,weblink Complete Review, 12 October 2019, Previous winners of the International Booker Prize who have gone on to win the Nobel Prize in Literature includes Alice Munro and Olga Tokarczuk. 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.WEB, Clark, David Draper, World Literature Today,weblink Oklahoma Historical Society, 28 May 2012, Maori writer this year's Neustadt International Prize winner – The Norman Transcript Like the Nobel 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).WEB,weblink Hans Christian Andersen Award, Central Connecticut State University,

See also

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External links

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