Nobel Prize in Literature: 10 writers (part 1)

Nobel Prize Laureates in Literature award author, but usually the Academy mentions specific work which gave particular recognition. Every year they announce candidates and in the end, they chose the winner. The first winner was a French poet and essayist Sully Prudhomme in 1901. This article is collected winners about 1 author per decade. It is the first part of the article. The second part is here.

Selma Lagerlöf

  • Style: books for children, folk, romanticism
  • Genre: fairytale, fiction

Briefly about the author, when she was awarded the Nobel Prize

She was a Swedish writer who was awarded the Nobel Prize for the children’s book “The Wonderful Adventures of Nils” in 1909. Selma was the first woman to be nominated and won the award.

She was born in Sweden in 1858, had 5 siblings, and worked as a teacher. She liked traveling and visited a lot of countries such as Palestina, Italy.

Interesting facts about Selma Lagerlöf:

She had a Jewish friend in Germany and, due to her efforts, her friend could escape from the Nazi Regime. She was an active suffragette. When she was born she had a hip injury, and because of this, she was limping all her life.

Selma Lagerlöf’s books that you can read:

  • “The Wonderful Adventures of Nils”;
  • “The Emperor of Portugalia”;
  • “Gösta Berling’s Saga”;
  • “Jerusalem”.

Quotes Selma Lagerlöf:

“Strange, when you ask anyone’s advice you see yourself what is right.”

“Nothing on earth can make up for the loss of one who has loved you.”

“Old butterflies should have the sense to die while the summer sun is shining.”

Romain Rolland

  • Style: romanticism, idealism
  • Genre: fiction

Briefly about the author, when he was awarded the Nobel Prize

Romain Rolland was a French writer who received the Nobel Prize in Literature for the fiction “Jean-Christophe” in 1915. He was born in 1866 in France to a family of notaries. His first studying was philosophy but later switched that and received a degree in History in 1889. Romain was an idealist and a lifelong pacifist.

Interesting facts about Romain Rolland:

  • He had a keen interest in Indian culture, therefore he wrote some books about some Indian philosophers.
  • Also, he had a strange admiration for the Soviet Union and believed in communism as a system. He also supported the revolution in 1917, but at the same time in his private notes, he rejected Stalinism.
  • He had two wives. His second wife was Marie Koudachev, who came from a noble Russian family, but several conspiracy theories suggest she was a Russian spy.

Wrote a lot of books, among them:

  • “Jean-Christophe”;
  • „Life of Beethoven“;
  • „Life of Ramakrishna“;
  • „Georges Danton“.

Quotes Romain Rolland:

“No one ever reads a book. He reads himself through books.”

“There is no joy other than the joy of creating. There is no man who is truly alive other than one who is creating. All others are just shadows on the earth with nothing to do with being alive. The joy of living, whether it is love or action, is the joy of creating.”

“I am Life fighting Nothingness. I am not Nothingness, I am the Fire which burns in the Night. I am not the Night. I am the eternal Light; I am not an eternal destiny soaring above the fight. I am free Will which struggles eternally. Struggle and burn with Me.”

Thomas Mann

  • Style:  conservative modernism, realism
  • Genre: fiction

Briefly about the author awarded by the Nobel Prize

Thomas Mann was a German writer who received the Nobel Prize in Literature for the fiction “Buddenbrooks” in 1929. He was born into a family of a senator and a merchant in Germany. He studied as a Journalist at the Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich, where he also learned the history of Arts, Literature, and economics. His first short story ‘Little Mr. Friedemann was published in 1898, and his first novella “Buddonbrooks” makes him popular.

Interesting facts about Thomas Mann:

  • He married a Jewish refugee from Germany – Katia Pringsheim. They had six children and lived together all their life together, supporting each other throughout their lives.
  • Thomas Mann was the first author to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature for a German language book.
  • He was a critic of the Nazi Regime. He published a lot of essays and articles against the Regime and due to this, he had to escape to Switzerland.
  • He is one of the most famous German authors in the World.

Wrote a lot of books, among them:

  • “Buddenbrooks”;
  • “Royal Highness”;
  • “The Magic Mountain”;
  • “Lotte in Weimar: The Beloved Returns”.

Quotes Thomas Mann:

Solitude gives birth to the original in us, to beauty unfamiliar and perilous – to poetry. But also, it gives birth to the opposite: to the perverse, the illicit, the absurd.”

“Tolerance becomes a crime when applied to evil.”

“There are so many different kinds of stupidity, and cleverness is one of the worst.”

Eugene O’Neill

  • Style:  psychological and social realism
  • Genre: playwright

Briefly about the author

Eugene O’Neill was the first American playwright to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1936.

He was born in 1888 in New York. His parents were immigrants from Ireland, the father was a popular actor, as a result young Eugene spent much of his childhood in trains and hotel rooms. These obstacles make his father sent small son to a Catholic school, where he learned from 7 to 13 years. After that, he studied at a non-sectarian preparatory school and spent 1 year at Princeton University.

Interesting facts about Eugene O’Neill:

  • He was born in a Hotel room and…died in a Hotel room.
  • His parents were both addicted, his mother had a morphine addiction, and his father was an alcoholic.
  • He was awarded also the Pulitzer Prize during the 1920s.
  • Geraldine Chaplin is his granddaughter.
  • He was married 3 times; his last marriage lasted from 1929 to 1953.
  • His last words were: “I knew it. I knew it. Born in a hotel room and died in a hotel room.”

Wrote a lot of books, among them:

  1. “Beyond the Horizon”;
  2. “Anna Christie”;
  3. “The Hairy Ape”;
  4. “Long Day’s Journey into Night”.
  1. “Beyond the Horizon”;
  2. “Anna Christie”;
  3. “The Hairy Ape”;
  4. “Long Day’s Journey into Night”.

Quotes Eugene O’Neill:

“Why am I afraid to dance, I who love music and rhythm and grace and song and laughter? Why am I afraid to live, I who love life and the beauty of flesh and the living colors of the earth and sky and sea? Why am I afraid to love, I who love love?”

“There is no present or future-only the past, happening over and over again-now.”

“Obsessed by a fairy tale, we spend our lives searching for a magic door and a lost kingdom of peace.”

Hermann Hesse

  • Style: symbolism, philosophical fiction
  • Genre: fiction

Briefly about the author awarded by the Nobel Prize

Hermann Hesse received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1946 for “The Glass Bead Game”. He was a German-Swiss poet, novelist, and painter.

Hermann Hesse was born on 2 July 1877 in Calm, German. His father worked in a publishing house that specialized in theological texts and schoolbooks. As we can see, he grew up in a religious family, which inspired him to future books.

Interesting facts about Hermann Hesse:

  • Hermann’s grandfather served in India on a mission of Protestant Christian missionary society and this experience influenced his works.
  • He left Evangelical Theological Seminary, which caused a crisis with his parents. He described this crisis in “Narcissus and Goldmund”, that you can find by reading the book.
  • He attempted suicide in 1892, after this he was placed in a mental hospital.
  • He worked in a bookshop, where he read a lot of works by famous writers.
  • He declared that Western philosophers, for example, Nietzsche, Spinoza, Plato, and Schopenhauer were his main inspiration.
  • He was interested in Buddhism, which you can see in his book “Siddhartha”

Wrote a lot of books, among them:

  1. “The Glass Bead Game”;
  2. “Narcissus and Goldmund”;
  3. “Steppenwolf”;
  4. “Siddhartha”;
  5. “Gertrud”.

Quotes Hermann Hesse:

“It is not for me to judge another man’s life. I must judge, I must choose, I must spurn, purely for myself. For myself, alone.”

“I have always believed, and I still believe, that whatever good or bad fortune may come our way we can always give it meaning and transform it into something of value.”

“Solitude is independence. It had been my wish and with the years I had attained it. It was cold. Oh, cold enough! But it was also still, wonderfully still and vast like the cold stillness of space in which the stars revolve.”

Albert Camus

  • Style: absurd
  • Genre: fiction

About the author awarded by the Nobel Prize

Albert Camus was born in Algeria in 1913. He was a French author, novelist, and playwright, well-known for the novel “The Stranger”. He received a Nobel Prize in 1957 for this book. Albert Camus was the second child. His father was a military veteran, who died during WWI, and his mother worked in a factory and as a housekeeper to support her family. His difficult childhood influenced his future work.

Interesting facts about Albert Camus:

  • Despite being born and growing up in Algeria he was a French novelist and had French citizenship.
  • He suffered from tuberculosis from 17 ages, which prevented him from joining the French army during WWII.
  • He helped the French Resistance movement during WWII as an author and journalist.
  • He was one the youngest person who was awarded Nobel Prize.
  • He had 2 wives. His first wife had an addiction to morphine. The second marriage was not successful either, he had a lot of mistress throughout his life.
  • He died in a tragic car incident when he was 46.
  • His two works were published posthumously.

Wrote a lot of books, among them:

  1. “A Happy Death”;
  2. “The Stranger”;
  3. “The Plague”;
  4. “Jonas, or the Artist at Work” (short story).
  5. “You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.”

Quotes Albert Camus:

  • “Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal.”
  • I may not have been sure about what really did interest me, but I was absolutely sure about what didn’t.”
  • “The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.”
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