I used to believe that the Nobel Prize Winner was the supreme award an author can aspire to receive.I was wrong.Nobel Prizes in Literature are not solely awarded on the basis of a glimmering career ; a wide range of criteria needs to be satisfied as well.If up to 1912,the juries were scrupulously following Alfred Nobel’s will that idealism should be rewarded,as of 1913,they were more open but more biased.
Articles enumerating the authors snubbed by the Nobel Prize aren’t that hard to find over the net; however I had to go in the realms of the web to find out why the authors below weren’t awarded the much-coveted Prize.I hope you will learn from this post as much as I did from writing it.
Notable Works: Anna Karenina,War and Peace,A Confession
Reasons : In his report to the Academy,the chairman of the Nobel Committee said that while he admired “immortal creations” like War and Peace and Anna Karenina, he could not condone Tolstoy’s social and political theories, nor his presumption in rewriting the New Testament “in a half mystical, half rationalistic spirit,” nor, finally, his denial to both nations and individuals of the right of self-defence.Still,Leo Tolstoy was the one who laid the foundation stone for many other authors; Woolf,Flaubert,Chekov,Joyce,Faulkner,Proust and Nabokov all regarded him as the greatest of all novelists.For that reason alone he deserved a Nobel Prize,but sadly,his recognition by those modern authors came well after his death.
2.William Somerset Maugham
Notable Works: The Painted Veil, Of Human Bondage, The Moon and Sixpence
Reasons: He was deemed ‘too popular and undistinguished’. Undistinguished? Not in my opinion.Maugham was an established short storyteller,playwright and novelist.I don’t know if he deserved the award,but he was definitely dismissed for the wrong reasons.
Notable Works: Homage to Catalonia,Animal Farm,1984
Reasons: Had he lived longer,he would surely have been awarded a Nobel Prize.He died a little less than 1 year after the publication of his – arguably – best work: 1984.Among the other authors whose death prevented them from being awarded a Nobel Prize are Virginia Woolf,Marcel Proust and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
4.Jorge Luis Borges
Notable Works: Ficciones, The Aleph, The Book of Sand
Reason: The first ever Pulitzer Prize winner lived long enough to be considered many times for the Nobel award,but was continually disregarded presumably because of his support for dictators Pinochet and Jorge Rafael Videla.Unlike Tolstoy,he was much distressed to have never been awarded the Nobel Prize.
Notable Works: A Boy’s Will, North of Boston,A Witness Tree
Reason: Widely regarded as the best poet of the 20th century,Robert Frost won the Pulitzer Prize four times,a record which he shares with Eugene O’Neill who did win the Nobel Prize in 1936.Frost was dismissed because of his “advanced age” in 1961– he was 86 at the time – with the jury deciding the American poet’s years were “a fundamental obstacle, which the committee regretfully found it necessary to state”. Forster wasn’t considered for the Nobel Prize for similar reasons.Over the years,age proved no longer an obstacle as Doris Lessing won the Nobel Prize at the age of 87 in 2007.
Notable Works: Ulysses, The Dubliners, Finnegan’s Wake
Reasons: When Sven Hedin,one of the Nobel Prize judges,was asked why James Joyce wasn’t even nominated,he said: ”Who?”
Notable Works: The Safety Match,The Duel,Ivanov
Reasons: Among the greatest short storytellers in history.In an attempt to defend his stand as a pro-Nazi, Sven Hedin made the bold claim that other Nobel Prize judges were as judgemental as he.A judge,he claimed,so hated Russians that he prevented Tolstoy,Chekhov and Gorky from winning the Nobel Prize.
Notable Works: Peer Gynt, A Doll’s House, Ghosts, An Enemy of the People, The Wild Duck, Hedda Gabler
Reasons: He is regarded as the most important playwright after Shakespeare.To get an idea of how great he actually was,know that he influenced quite a few eminent novelists and playwrights,namely Oscar Wilde,George Bernard Shaw,James Joyce,Arthur Miller and Eugene O’Neill.So why did so great a man never win a Nobel Prize? Because the judges deemed his works too realistic; they were looking for someone with more idealism.Another giant,Mark Twain,was dismissed for similar reasons.
Notable Works: Pale Fire,Lolita
Reasons: He was nominated numerous times,but for some reasons,was always dismissed in favour of a lesser known author.For instance,in 1974,when Jorge Luis Borges,Vladimir Nabokov,Graham Greene and Saul Bellow were favoured candidates,the Nobel Prize was shared between Eyvind Johnson and Harry Martinson, two Swedes who happened to be judges on the Nobel panel!
Notable Works: Death of a Salesman, The Crucible, All My Sons, After the Fall
Reasons: Pulitzer Prize Winner Arthur Miller was regarded as one of the greatest playwrights of the twentieth century and as the last titan of the American stage,with the other titans being Tennessee Williams and Eugene O’Neill.In 1997,Salman Rushdie and he were favoured to win the Nobel Prize,but both were dismissed on the account that they would have been ‘too predictable, too popular’.Since then he was never again considered for a Nobel Prize.