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Thread: Nobel Prize 1966

  1. #1

    Default Nobel Prize 1966

    In 1966 the Nobel Prize was shared between Nelly Sachs and Shmuel Yosef Agnon.

    Like they do at the beginning of every year the Swedish Academy has now made the list of those nominated 50 years ago available, in 1966 they were 72 individuals.

    And likewise Kaj Schueler at Svenska Dagbladet has been reading the reports:

    Apparently the Nobel Committee seems to have presented this short-list to the rest of the Academy (without reservations from any NC-member):

    1. Yasunari Kawabata (would become the winner in 1968)
    2. Sachs/Agnon (winners)
    3. Graham Greene
    4. W. H. Auden
    5. Samuel Beckett (would become the winner in 1969)

    This means that the full SA overruled the NC, which is very unusual. I haven't read any of the winners or Kawabata so I can't give any opinion, but I guess that some of you can?

    Some other facts:

    Nominees who would win later:

    • Miguel Ángel Asturias (1967 winner)
    • Yasunari Kawabata (1968 winner)
    • Samuel Beckett (1969 winner)
    • Pablo Neruda (1971 winner)
    • Heinrich Böll (1972 winner)
    • Harry Martinson (1974 winner)
    • Eugenio Montale (1975 winner)
    • Günter Grass (1999 winner)

    Most nominations:

    • Samuel Beckett (4)
    • André Malraux (4)
    • Pablo Neruda (4)
    • Anna Akhmatova (3)
    • W. H. Auden (3)
    • Tarjei Vesaas (3)
    • Simon Vestdijk (3)

    First-time nominees:

    • Alexandre Arnoux
    • Johan Borgen
    • Carlo Emilio Gadda
    • Witold Gombrowicz
    • Günter Grass (winner in 1999)
    • Thierry Maulnier
    • Henry Muller
    • Walter Pabst
    • Pierre-Henri Simon
    • Arnold Wesker

    Nominations from members of the SA:

    • Shmuel Yosef Agnon (by Eyvind Johnson)
    • Anna Akhmatova (by Karl Ragnar Gierow)
    • Johan Borgen (by Harry Martinson)
    • Paul Celan (by Henry Olsson)
    • Lawrence Durrell (by Henry Olsson)
    • Yasunari Kawabata (by Karl Ragnar Gierow)
    • Konstantin Paustovsky (by Karl Ragnar Gierow)
    • Nelly Sachs (by Henry Olsson)
    • Arnulf Øverland (by Eyvind Johnson)

    Nominated women:
    • Anna Akhmatova
    • Katherine Anne Porter
    • Nelly Sachs

    Nominations from former winners:

    • None (!) (just like in 1965, 1964, 1963 and 1962 (!!!)) Last time a former winner used his/her right to nominate was in 1961 when 1938 winner Pearl S. Buck nominated Robert Frost and 1948 winner T. S. Eliot nominated Giorgos Seferis (who would then go on to win in 1963)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008

    Default Re: Nobel Prize 1966

    Since 1965 the SA committee were firmly exploring the possibility to share the prize. In that year there were three duos proposed:

    • Russian poet Anna Akhmatova and Michail Sholokhov; motivated by their writing in the same language,
    • Miguel Angel Asturias and Jorge Luis Borges; motivated by their writing in the same language, or
    • Shmuel Joseph Agnon and Nelly Sachs, both representing the fate of the Jewish people.

    Price went to Sholokhov that year but in 1966 they insisted and gave it to Agnon/Sachs

  3. #3

    Default Re: Nobel Prize 1966

    Yes Agnon/Sachs were the only ones left on the short-list from the previous year, so maybe it isn't too surprising that they won the voting in the full SA. (Even though it seems that Auden was included in the vote after they decided to not split the prize)

    Akhmatova passed away in March of 1966, so it's no surprise that she wasn't on the short-list (and the fact that there was a Russian-language winner the year before).

    But I find it a bit interesting that Miguel Ángel Asturias had left the short-list in 1966 and then won the prize in 1967.

    From what I understand all the short-listed writers had been on the short-list before, except for Kawabata.

    I also find it a bit surprising that the number of individuals who were nominated shrunk from 89 in 1965 to 72 in 1966

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008

    Default Re: Nobel Prize 1966

    If I remember correctly Auden was also in the shortlist when the prize was awarded to Sartre in 1964. After being absent one year he came back to the shortlist in 1966, a situation that clearly happened to Asturias as well.
    It will be very interesting to see the shortlist for next year and see if Borges was also shortlisted and ditched for Asturias instead as the Winner. The idea of Asturias and Borges sharing the prize was no good. Besides the language I don't see any more similarities among them. Now it is clear that the prize should have gone to Borges instead of Asturias if we need to pick one.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2016

    Default Re: Nobel Prize 1966

    Quote Originally Posted by Marba View Post
    From what I understand all the short-listed writers had been on the short-list before, except for Kawabata.
    When Mishima was on the shortlist he was dismissed as being too young and not as important as the other Japanese authors who were nominated (Tanizaki, Kawabata, and Nishiwaki). Tanizaki likely would have won the prize instead of Kawabata had he not died in 1965. Nishiwaki was little known outside of Japan and given the expertise needed it was probably hard for the Academy to accurately judge Japanese poetry at the time. Kawabata's judgement required them to bring in 7 outside experts to provide insight and translate (somewhere on the Nobel website this is discussed).

    So given that they wanted an Asian writer and that Kawabata had been previously nominated and quickly discussed, it doesn't surprise me that he was recommended by the Committee. Kawabata is a very "Japanese" author. He writes in concise Japanese prose and aesthetically is similar to other Japanese authors like Akutagawa and Ueda Akinari. His subject matter was mostly all focused on traditional "Japanese" topics and events. He didn't delve into more modernist subject matter like Oe, religious themes like Endo, or the more surrealist types of fiction represents with authors like Kobo Abe, Murakami, or Soseki. So in terms of picking a widely known Asian author writing on "Asian' things, he was an easy choice.

    There's really nothing new in any of the news this year. A lot of later winners were nominated, Auden was shortlisted but had been for years at that point, a lot of the other nominees remain little known and don't outwardly seem to have had a significant impact on literature. No massive snubs no surprising nominations, no dismissals of genre fiction.

    Nelly Sachs obviously won based on her Swedish citizenship and her reputation amongst other Swedish poets. Agnon wrote lengthy epics in a mostly underutilized language. It's similar to Singer's win (Singer wrote in Yiddish). They both wrote in rarer languages and the Academy was recognizing this (they specifically discuss this with now of the Greek poets who won).

    Considering the subject matter it's easy to see why the win was split between them.

    So yeah, nothing really new here.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    New Jersey, USA

    Default Re: Nobel Prize 1966

    I once read in a bio of Mishima that either one of the academy members or someone close to them thought that because of Mishima's age he was a leftist and urged the others to pass him over. Ironically, Mishima was actually incredibly right wing. Not sure how true that is, but I thought it was a funny anecdote.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2016

    Default Re: Nobel Prize 1966

    That sounds questionable to me. A few years ago they explicitly stated in the released Academy notes that he wasn't more deserving than the other three Japanese authors that had been nominated, he was also much younger than all of them and very young in general. That seems a more likely reason for him being passed over. He also petitioned them to award him the Prize to an annoying extant.

    Interestingly, Kawabata coerced him into writing a recommendation to the Academy over some unsettled legal matter. And later on it was reveled that Mishima may have written portions of Kawabata's work for him (this was from an article in The Japan Times).

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