Nobel Prize in Literature
October 19, 2021
The Nobel Prize for Literature (in Swedish: Nobelpriset i litteratur) is a Swedish literary prize that has been awarded annually since 1901 to an author from any country who, in the words of the Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel, produced "in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction" (originally from the Swedish: den som inom litteraturen har producerat det utmärktaste i idealisk riktning). Although individual works are sometimes cited as particularly noteworthy, the award is based on the body of an author's work as a whole. The Swedish Academy is responsible for choosing the award winner and announcing the names of the laureates in early October. It is one of five Nobel Prizes established by the will of Alfred Nobel in 1895. On some occasions, the prize was postponed to the following year. It was not awarded in 2018, but two prizes were awarded in 2019. Although the Nobel Prize for Literature has become the most prestigious literary prize in the world, the Swedish Academy has attracted significant criticism for its treatment of the prize. Many authors who won the award have been ostracized, while others rejected by the jury remain widely studied and read. The award "has become widely seen as political - a peace award in literary guise," whose judges are prejudiced against authors with different political tastes to them. British literature professor Tim Parks expressed skepticism that it would be possible for "Swedish teachers to compare a poet from Indonesia, perhaps translated into English, with a novelist from Cameroon, perhaps only available in French, and another who writes in Afrikaans, but it is published in German and Dutch...". In 2016, 16 of the 113 laureates were of Scandinavian origin. The Academy has often been accused of being biased towards European authors, and Swedish authors in particular. Nobel's "vague" formulation of the prize criteria has led to recurrent controversies. In the original Swedish, the word "idealisk" is translated as "ideal". The Nobel Committee's interpretation has varied over the years. In recent years, this has meant a kind of idealism defending human rights on a large scale.