Nobel Prize for literature


October 20, 2021

The Nobel Prize for Literature is one of the five prizes established by Alfred Nobel's testament in 1895 and is attributed to the author in the field of world literature who "most distinguished himself for his works in an ideal direction": it was awarded for the first time in 1901, like the other prizes instituted by Nobel himself. Considered the most prestigious and most media award in the world, the Nobel Prize highlights an author and his work. It assures him a worldwide promotion, an international reputation and a certain financial peace of mind. It is not uncommon for the Nobel Prize to take on a political significance, sometimes with the value of disavowal in the face of authoritarian regimes. Indeed, several writers exiled, dissidents, protesters, persecuted or banned from publication in their country have been awarded, such as Miguel Ángel Asturias, Boris Pasternak, Pablo Neruda, Alexandre Soljenitsyne and Gao Xingjian.The Nobel Prize first honors novelists, essayists, poets and playwrights. However, the list of winners also includes four philosophers (Rudolf Christoph Eucken, Henri Bergson, Albert Camus and Bertrand Russell) including Jean-Paul Sartre who rejected it, a historian (Theodor Mommsen), a statesman (Winston Churchill, distinguished also for her autobiography and political speeches), a short story writer (Alice Munro) and a songwriter (Bob Dylan).

The prize

The Swedish Academy announces the recipient's name in a public lecture in early October. The award is subsequently presented in December during a public ceremony to the author or author of the most remarkable idealist-inspired literary work in the presence of the Swedish royal family. The prize consists of a sum of money (eight million Swedish crowns in 2013), a personalized diploma for each winner and a gold medal bearing the effigy of Alfred Nobel. This constitutes his nominations with the help of other members of national and foreign literary academies and societies, eminent university professors of literature, language and linguistics, former award winners or even presidents of writers' associations, representing the literary culture of the their countries. The Academy constitutes the Nobel Committee (annexed to the Nobel Foundation) with 5 of its members, appointed by co-optation for 3 years. These 5 academics verify the relevance and eligibility criteria of the writers secretly nominated for the award. During the autumn, a letter from the Committee is sent to almost 700 addresses to be returned for the choice of the following year. All the people or institutions contacted then propose a list of several names. It is strongly recommended that you detail, explain or justify your choices, although the rules of the Nobel Foundation do not require it. On the other hand, it is strictly forbidden for the personalities sent to vote for themselves if they are entitled to the prize. Nearly 350 names are proposed each year to Committee members who eliminate them from February 1 to keep only 15 to 20 candidates in April. This first selection is sent in advance to all Academy members who make recommendations. At the end of May, the Nobel Committee establishes a final list of 5 names, endorsed by all the academics who will then have to designate the recipient of the prize. If one of the proposed authors is not published in a language accessible to the majority of the jury, the Academy may request a special translation. Likewise, if a nominated writer is unknown to the Committee but appears legitimate for the award, the Nobel Foundation sends experts who enlighten the Academy on the scope of the potential candidate's work. After having studied the works of the competing authors during the summer, the jurors organize various debates. It often happens that the works

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