Monday, 9 April 2012

Top 5 Brilliant Writers Robbed of a Nobel Prize

5. Henrik Ibsen

Norway’s greatest author, and one of the finest modern dramatic writers in history. He had 6 chances to win, since the award was begun in 1901, but he lost due to arguments over Alfred Nobel’s eligibility requirements, as laid out in his will. He intended the winners to exhibit “lofty and sound idealism.” But from 1901 to 1912, the Committee believed that he meant “ideal direction.” Apparently Ibsen, the father of modern drama, was not leading the literary world in the ideal direction.

4. Marcel Proust

The author of the most monumental work of 20th-Century fiction, A la Recherche du Temps Perdu, In Search of Lost Time. It’s a 7-volume novel which exhibits one of the first, if not the first, example of stream of consciousness writing. And yet, the Committee awarded the 1920 prize to Knut Hamsun (Norwegian, which is closer to Swedish than French), for his monumental work, Growth of the Soil. Which one do more people read today? Yep, In Search of Lost Time.

3. James Joyce

The greatest Irish writer, besides W. B. Yeats who did win the prize. Joyce is also the greatest writer of stream of consciousness fiction in history. He practically invented the modern idea of speculative fiction, with his final work, Finnegans Wake, which is almost unreadable. He considered it his finest work, but is more famous for Ulysses, the Dubliners and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.

2. Leo Tolstoy

The greatest exemplar of literary realism in history, and possibly the greatest novelist in history. His two most titanic works, War and Peace and Anna Karenina, would have been more than sufficient to secure Knut Hamsun an award. If only Tolstoy had been born a little closer to Sweden, the Committee might have overlooked their arguable translation of Nobel’s will. Apparently, the Committee did not consider Tolstoy to be leading the modern literary world in “the ideal direction.”

1. Mark Twain

The inventor of the American Novel, with Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, and one of the all-time greatest novelists, humorists, essayists, critics and all-around authors. Like Tolstoy, he had 10 chances to win, and ten times was passed over, in favor of the following eleven authors:
Sully Prudhomme, Theodor Mommsen, Bjornstjern Bjornson, Frederic Mistral and Jose Echeragay (both in 1904), Henryk Sienkiewicz, Giosue Carducci, Rudyard Kipling, Rudolf Christoph Eucken, Selma Lagerlof, Paul Heyse.
I’m willing to bet you’ve only heard of one of those. I have three English degrees, and I’ve only heard of one of them. I have, however, heard of Mark Twain.

1 comment:

  1. Quo Vadis - written by Sienkiewicz. Translated to numerous languages - including English, so should be understood by someone with "three English degrees" ;-)