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Nobel Prize: Literature

Globally referred to as the foremost prestigious Prize, the Nobel Prize is a combination of five separate Prizes awarded to those that have achieved or done something that benefits mankind. Consistent with Alfred Nobel's will in 1895, this award is meant to be awarded to "those who have done the best for mankind during the preceding year." This Prize is awarded in Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature and Peace. The honor distribution ceremony is held every year. The recipient referred to as the "laureate" receives a ribbon, a diploma, and a monetary award. The Prize monetary award in 2020 was 10,000,000 SEK or US $1,145,000 or €968,000, or £880,000. The Prize isn't shared among over three individuals. At the same time, laurels for peace can be awarded to organizations of over just three people. At the will of the Nobel, the Prize is looked over by the Nobel Foundation and is presented by a committee of five people selected by the Swedish Academy.

Alfred Bernhard Nobel:

Alfred Bernhard Nobel was a well-known Swedish engineer, chemist, inventor, philanthropist, and businessman. He was the holder of 355 different patents, also developing safer explosive dynamite, being the foremost famous. He was multilingual, fluent in Russian, German, French, English, and his native language, Swedish.

Figure 1: Portrait of Alfred Bernhard Nobel (2021).

In his last will, he stated that his money should be used to produce a series of prizes for those that confer the "the greatest good for humankind" in physics, chemistry, peace, physiology or medicine, and Literature. He wrote many wills in his lifetime, but the last one was written almost a year and a half before he died. The Swedish-Norwegian Club signed it in Paris on 27th November 1895. To equip the five Nobel Prizes, Alfred entrusted 94% of his assets, 31 million Swedish Kronor equal to be the US $ 198 million, or €176 million as in 2016. With this raised skepticism surrounding the will, not until 26th April 1897 was that the (Storting) Norwegian Parliament approved it. The executors of Alfred's will were Ragnar Sohlman and Rudolf Lilljequist. They established the Nobel Foundation that took care of Nobel's fortune and arranged the Prizes.

Figure 2: Clos up of the will of Alfred Nobel (2021).
Honor in Literature:

The procedure for nomination within the category of Literature relies on the nominations given by the members of literature academies and societies, members of the Swedish Academy, Literature and language professors, formal Nobel laureates, and the presidents of writers' organizations. Nominating oneself isn't permitted. The Nobel committee examines these nominations after receiving the proposals by 1st February. Then by April, the list is narrowed right down to twenty candidates. By that point, in May, the list is short-listed to five candidates approved by the Committee. Until October, the writings of the candidates are read and reviewed. In October, there's voting between the Academy members, and the candidate who acquires the foremost votes is the next Laureate in Literature. The candidate's name should air the list a minimum of twice to have won the Prize; therefore, many authors reappear and are reviewed repeatedly for years. The accolade is awarded in October, although the award could also be announced the year after the nomination year.

The Academy works with thirteen languages. If so, it happens that a candidate is shortlisted from an unknown language, a translator is named who helps in providing sound samples of the candidate's work. Though the works of the individual are quoted as noteworthy, the award isn't just based upon this citation but the work of the author as an entire piece. The Swedish Academy is on the choice committee to determine if anyone shall receive the Prize. An annual ceremony takes place in Stockholm on 10th December, the anniversary of Nobel's death, where the award is presented.

The First award in Literature:

In 1901, the Committee began to present honor for Literature to authors from any nation, who, in words of the Swedish Engineer and philanthropist, "in the sphere of literature, produced the foremost outstanding add an idealistic direction" (original Swedish: den som inom litteraturen har producerat det utmärktaste i idealisk rigtning).

Figure 3: Photograph of the first Nobel Prize winner, Sully Prudhomme (n.d.)

The primary Nobel Prize was awarded to Sully Prudhomme from France. The recipient is awarded a medal, a diploma, and a monetary award prize. Sully received 150,782 SEK. The number that's received has been varied throughout the years. As in 2018, the number Prudhomme received was equivalent to 8,823,637.78 SEK.


Louise Glück received the 2020 Nobel Prize "for her unmistakable poetic voice that makes individual existence universal with a harsh beauty", as per Nobel

Figure 4: Image of Nobel Prize winner Louise Glück (2020).
Bibliographical references

Wikipedia. (2021, May 23). Nobel Prize in Literature. Retrieved from:

Wikipedia. (2021, May 22). List of Nobel laureates in Literature. Retrieved from: (2021, May 24). Nobel Prizes 2020. Retrieved from: (nd). Nobel Prize facts. Retrieved from:

B. (2021, March 26). Alfred Nobel. Retrieved from: (nd). Nobel Prizes 2020. Retrieved from:

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