Saturday, June 13, 2015

Noble Nobel Nominations

A lot of the early Nobel Laureates in Literature were lousy. I've read many of their works, and can personally attest to the legitimacy their continued unpopularity.

I have an English-language bias, of course, but some of the best never got the award. The Committee opens the nomination files older than 50 years, so all Literature nominees from 1901 to 1964 are now available. I am not saying these are the best authors, or that, in the specific years nominated they were most deserving. In the parenthesis following I've added the winners of that year, and many of them are quite deserving, great authors. It's just that they are still known, and popular, authors. The list could have been very different.

Here are some actual nominees who never got the prize. Some were nominated multiple times, in which case I tried to pick a year with no conflicting nominations (being unable to do so for 1930, 39 and 50).

1901 - Emile Zola (Sully Prudhomme)
1902 - Henrik Ibsen (Theodor Mommsen)
1903 - Leo Tolstoy (Bjornstjerne Bjornson)
1910 - Thomas Hardy (Paul Heyse)
1911 - Henry James (Maurice Maeterlinck)
1930 - Edith Wharton / Theodore Dreiser (Sinclair Lewis)
1931 - Paul Valery (Erik Axel Karlfeldt)
1932 - Upton Sinclair (John Galsworthy)
1933 - Max Beerbohm (Ivan Bunin)
1939 - Aldous Huxley / Hu Shih (Frans Emil Sillanpaa)
1940 - Carl Sandburg (None awarded)
1946 - EM Forster (Herman Hesse)
1949 - Thorton Wilder (William Faulkner)
1950 - Martin Buber / John Dewey (Bertrand Russell)
1952 - Graham Greene (Francois Mauriac)
1953 - Robert Frost (Winston Churchill)
1954 - Carl Jung (Ernest Hemingway)
1956 - Jorge Luis Borges (Juan Ramon Jimenez)
1963 - Jean Anouilh (Giorgos Seferis)
1964 - Vladimir Nabokov (Jean-Paul Sartre)

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