Isn’t the Nobel Prize Wonderful?

Carol Reed and Graham Greene, photo by film director Larry Burrows
Carol Reed and Graham Greene, director and author of the movie «The Third Man», enjoy a refreshing glass of wine. Photo by film director Larry Burrows. What a lovely photo! What happened to Carol Reed's left ankle?

In 1974 Graham Greene, Vladimir Nabokov, and Saul Bellow were considered for the Nobel Prize in Literature, but all three were rejected in favor of a joint award for Swedish authors Eyvind Johnson and Harry Martinson, both Nobel judges themselves, and unknown outside their home country.

Bellow would win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1976; neither Greene nor Nabokov — two of the most brilliant writers the English language has seen — ever won the prize.

But Icelandic novelist Halldór Laxness did! See 2012-01-19, above.

5 Replies to “Isn’t the Nobel Prize Wonderful?”

  1. And how many non-English speaking films have won a Best Picture Oscar?

    Very few Swedes have been awarded a Nobel Prize for Literature, and yes down the years there have been a few dud recipients (Pearl Buck, Winston Churchill etc) but I am most glad that writers as (for example) the wonderful Halldor Laxness are known to me more likely than not because he had Nobel Prize Winner attached to his name.

    It’s a lottery run by the Swedes so good for them.

    One can imagine the far narrower range there would be if (God help us!) an Australian Academy tried something similar. Though even that isn’t likely. All we have is the Radio National and its ilk inspired forelock-tugging to the wretched Booker.

  2. True, I suppose Mr Nobel can do whatever he likes with his own money. And at least they don’t have an entry fee.

  3. While I’m here, you mention the “wonderful Halldor Laxness”. Apart from the marvellous name, I know nothing about him. What makes him wonderful?

  4. Yes Halldor Laxness indeed wrote the wonderful ‘Independent People’ that Don Watson has so tellingly, recently referred to. He also wrote the amazing ‘World Light’
    recommended to me by the equally amazing Martin Duwell. This novel is centred on a poet, but guess what he ain’t any ordinary ‘great’ poet, he’s a rather banal bad (if not baaaad) poet, trying to make a career out of such verse. But in spite of or because of the subject matter the novel dammit works!

    I’ve rarely read a work where with almost Shakespearian skill the author veers from lunatic high farce to deepest tragedy.

  5. Yes, isn’t it wonderful!
    When the Rolling Stone published its list of TOP 100 GUITAR PLAYERS OF ALL TIME the lacunae were obvious and upsetting to all concerned, and people got sad or mad. How wonderful that there is such a wealth of praiseworthy and prize worthy authors in the 193 countries that nobody finds his favourites on a list of laureates. We are lucky.

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