[NP] Nobel Prize for Literature

Nobel Prize for Literature [NP]

Awarded annually since 1901

“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look upon my works, ye Mighty, and despair!” That line from Shelley comes to mind when I think about the Nobel Prize for Literature. Not because the Nobel laureates rule supreme, but because in the context of the poem, a brief vision of a vast desert wasteland, this line is an arrogant boast etched in stone ruins that are all that remain of a once great kingdom. The braggadocio of Oxymandias didn’t stand up to the sweep of history. Likewise, Nobel laureates garner a lot of praise, but all too often they don’t live on in the canon. Of the 101 laureates to receive the Nobel since 1901, sixty didn’t get two votes for a specific work in my master list. (A work of literature has to appear on at least two of 24 different lists in order to make the Master.)

So much for the Nobel! Well, like most things, it is more complicated than that. Turns out that the master list is extremely preferential toward English language writers, specifically those from either America or the British Isles. The Nobel, throughout history, has fought against that bias. It awards English speakers begrudgingly. Less than a quarter of its recipients write in English. The Nobel, then, is a great way to broaden the spectrum of this list, adding lots of non-English speaking authors that are very worth reading. Right? The problem is that the Nobel doesn’t award works but rather it recognizes an author’s oeuvre. My solution at first was to give a vote to everything a laureate wrote and, if any work got a vote from another list, it was included in the master. But this would have made a very long list even longer. So no. I decided that if an author won the Nobel, he just got a mention beside his name and birthdate. [NP]. Kind of a gold star. Another problem arose. Some really great authors were left off through sheer bad luck. Specifically Jose Saramago, a man considered by Harold Bloom (bloviator though he is) to be one of the most gifted writers of recent decades. Saramago won the Nobel, and five of his works received a vote from various lists, but none got two. A flaw in the system. Great authors who write a lot of works – good works that get attention from other lists – but who are not writing in English, find it much harder to make the master list. My solution is to use the Nobel as a safety net. If an author wins the Nobel but he has no works that have received two votes, I select one to be included in the master list. Not perfect, but better. And better is a good thing.

Here are the laureates. Those with a work on the Master List appear in RED.

 

2010
Mario Vargas Llosa
2009
Herta Müller
2008
Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio
2007
Doris Lessing
2006
Orhan Pamuk
2005
Harold Pinter
2004
Elfriede Jelinek
2003
John M. Coetzee
2002
Imre Kertész
2001
Sir Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul
2000
Gao Xingjian
1999
Günter Grass
1998
José Saramago
1997
Dario Fo
1996
Wislawa Szymborska
1995
Seamus Heaney
1994
Kenzaburo Oe
1993
Toni Morrison
1992
Derek Walcott
1991
Nadine Gordimer
1990
Octavio Paz
1989
Camilo José Cela
1988
Naguib Mahfouz
1987
Joseph Brodsky
1986
Wole Soyinka
1985
Claude Simon
1984
Jaroslav Seifert
1983
William Golding
1982
Gabriel García Márquez
1981
Elias Canetti
1980
Czeslaw Milosz
1979
Odysseus Elytis
1978
Isaac Bashevis Singer
1977
Vicente Aleixandre
1976
Saul Bellow
1975
Eugenio Montale
1974
Eyvind Johnson, Harry Martinson
1973
Patrick White
1972
Heinrich Böll
1971
Pablo Neruda
1970
Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn
1969
Samuel Beckett
1968
Yasunari Kawabata
1967
Miguel Angel Asturias
1966
Shmuel Yosef Agnon, Nelly Sachs
1965
Mikhail Aleksandrovich Sholokhov
1964
Jean-Paul Sartre
1963
Giorgos Seferis
1962
John Steinbeck
1961
Ivo Andric
1960
Saint-John Perse
1959
Salvatore Quasimodo
1958
Boris Leonidovich Pasternak
1957
Albert Camus
1956
Juan Ramón Jiménez
1955
Halldór Kiljan Laxness
1954
Ernest Miller Hemingway
1953
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill
1952
François Mauriac
1951
Pär Fabian Lagerkvist
1950
Earl (Bertrand Arthur William) Russell
1949
William Faulkner
1948
Thomas Stearns Eliot
1947
André Paul Guillaume Gide
1946
Hermann Hesse
1945
Gabriela Mistral
1944
Johannes Vilhelm Jensen
1939
Frans Eemil Sillanpää
1938
Pearl Buck
1937
Roger Martin du Gard
1936
Eugene Gladstone O’Neill
1934
Luigi Pirandello
1933
Ivan Alekseyevich Bunin
1932
John Galsworthy
1931
Erik Axel Karlfeldt
1930
Sinclair Lewis
1929
Thomas Mann
1928
Sigrid Undset
1927
Henri Bergson
1926
Grazia Deledda
1925
George Bernard Shaw
1924
Wladyslaw Stanislaw Reymont
1923
William Butler Yeats
1922
Jacinto Benavente
1921
Anatole France
1920
Knut Pedersen Hamsun
1919
Carl Friedrich Georg Spitteler
1917
Karl Adolph Gjellerup, Henrik Pontoppidan
1916
Carl Gustaf Verner von Heidenstam
1915
Romain Rolland
1913
Rabindranath Tagore
1912
Gerhart Johann Robert Hauptmann
1911
Count Maurice (Mooris) Polidore Marie Bernhard Maeterlinck
1910
Paul Johann Ludwig Heyse
1909
Selma Ottilia Lovisa Lagerlöf
1908
Rudolf Christoph Eucken
1907
Rudyard Kipling
1906
Giosuè Carducci
1905
Henryk Sienkiewicz
1904
Frédéric Mistral, José Echegaray y Eizaguirre
1903
Bjørnstjerne Martinus Bjørnson
1902
Christian Matthias Theodor Mommsen
1901
Sully Prudhomme
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