Nobel Prize for Literature

  Poetry & Prose    Books / People

The Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded almost annually since 1901. It is intended to go to an author who has produced outstanding work “in an ideal direction.” While individual works are sometimes cited as being particularly noteworthy, the award is primarily based on an author’s body of work as a whole.

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Sully Prudhomme

— French
— Poetry
René François Armand (Sully) Prudhomme (1839–1907) was a French poet and essayist. In giving the award the committee said, “in special recognition of his poetic composition, which gives evidence of lofty idealism, artistic perfection and a rare combination of the qualities of both heart and intellect.”

1902 / Theodor Mommsen
“the greatest living master of the art of historical writing, with special reference to his monumental work A History of Rome
— history, law

1903 / Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson
“as a tribute to his noble, magnificent and versatile poetry, which has always been distinguished by both the freshness of its inspiration and the rare purity of its spirit”
— poetry, novel, drama

1904 / Frédéric Mistral
“in recognition of the fresh originality and true inspiration of his poetic production, which faithfully reflects the natural scenery and native spirit of his people, and, in addition, his significant work as a Provençal philologist”
— poetry, philology

1905 / Henryk Sienkiewicz
“because of his outstanding merits as an epic writer”
— novel

1906 / Giosuè Carducci
“not only in consideration of his deep learning and critical research, but above all as a tribute to the creative energy, freshness of style, and lyrical force which characterize his poetic masterpieces”
— poetry

1907 / Rudyard Kipling
“in consideration of the power of observation, originality of imagination, virility of ideas and remarkable talent for narration that characterize the creations of this world-famous author”
— novel, short story, poetry

1908 / Rudolf Christoph Eucken
“in recognition of his earnest search for truth, his penetrating power of thought, his wide range of vision, and the warmth and strength in presentation with which in his numerous works he has vindicated and developed an idealistic philosophy of life”
— philosophy

1909 / Selma Lagerlöf
“in appreciation of the lofty idealism, vivid imagination and spiritual perception that characterize her writings”
— novel, short story

1910 / Paul von Heyse
“as a tribute to the consummate artistry, permeated with idealism, which he has demonstrated during his long productive career as a lyric poet, dramatist, novelist and writer of world-renowned short stories”
— poetry, drama, novel, short story

1911 / Maurice Maeterlinck
“in appreciation of his many-sided literary activities, and especially of his dramatic works, which are distinguished by a wealth of imagination and by a poetic fancy, which reveals, sometimes in the guise of a fairy tale, a deep inspiration, while in a mysterious way they appeal to the readers’ own feelings and stimulate their imaginations”
— drama, poetry, essay

1912 / Gerhart Hauptmann
“primarily in recognition of his fruitful, varied and outstanding production in the realm of dramatic art”
— drama, novel

1913 / Rabindranath Tagore
“because of his profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse, by which, with consummate skill, he has made his poetic thought, expressed in his own English words, a part of the literature of the West”
— poetry, novel, drama, short story, literary criticism

1915 / Romain Rolland
“as a tribute to the lofty idealism of his literary production and to the sympathy and love of truth with which he has described different types of human beings”
— novel

1916 / Verner von Heidenstam
“in recognition of his significance as the leading representative of a new era in our literature”
— poetry, novel

1917 / Karl Adolph Gjellerup
“for his varied and rich poetry, which is inspired by lofty ideals”
— poetry
/ Henrik Pontoppidan
“for his authentic descriptions of present-day life in Denmark”
— novel

1919 / Carl Spitteler
“in special appreciation of his epic, Olympian Spring
— poetry

1920 / Knut Hamsun
“for his monumental work, Growth of the Soil

19211 / Anatole France
“in recognition of his brilliant literary achievements, characterized as they are by a nobility of style, a profound human sympathy, grace, and a true Gallic temperament”
— novel, poetry

1922 / Jacinto Benavente
“for the happy manner in which he has continued the illustrious traditions of the Spanish drama”
— drama

1923 / William Butler Yeats
“for his always inspired poetry, which in a highly artistic form gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation”
— poetry

1924 / Władysław Reymont
“for his great national epic, The Peasants
— novel

1925 / George Bernard Shaw
“for his work which is marked by both idealism and humanity, its stimulating satire often being infused with a singular poetic beauty”
— drama, literary criticism<

1926 / Grazia Deledda
“for her idealistically inspired writings, which with plastic clarity picture the life on her native island and with depth and sympathy deal with human problems in general
— poetry, novel

1927 / Henri Bergson
“in recognition of his rich and vitalizing ideas and the brilliant skill with which they have been presented”

1928 / Sigrid Undset
“principally for her powerful descriptions of Northern life during the Middle Ages”
— novel

1929 / Thomas Mann
“principally for his great novel, Buddenbrooks, which has won steadily increased recognition as one of the classic works of contemporary literature”
— novel, short story, essay

1930 / Sinclair Lewis
“for his vigorous and graphic art of description and his ability to create, with wit and humour, new types of characters”
— novel, short story, drama

1931 / Erik Axel Karlfeldt
“The poetry of Erik Axel Karlfeldt”
— poetry

1932 / John Galsworthy
“for his distinguished art of narration, which takes its highest form in The Forsyte Saga
— novel

1933 / Ivan Bunin
“for the strict artistry with which he has carried on the classical Russian traditions in prose writing”
— short story, poetry, novel

1934 / Luigi Pirandello
“for his bold and ingenious revival of dramatic and scenic art”
— drama, novel, short story

1936 / Eugene O’Neill
“for the power, honesty and deep-felt emotions of his dramatic works, which embody an original concept of tragedy”
— drama

1937 / Roger Martin du Gard
“for the artistic power and truth with which he has depicted human conflict as well as some fundamental aspects of contemporary life in his novel cycle Les Thibault
— novel

1938 / Pearl S. Buck
“for her rich and truly epic descriptions of peasant life in China and for her biographical masterpieces”
— novel, biography

1939 / Frans Eemil Sillanpää
“for his deep understanding of his country’s peasantry and the exquisite art with which he has portrayed their way of life and their relationship with Nature”
— novel

1944 / Johannes Vilhelm Jensen
“for the rare strength and fertility of his poetic imagination with which is combined an intellectual curiosity of wide scope and a bold, freshly creative style”
— novel, short story

1945 / Gabriela Mistral
“for her lyric poetry, which inspired by powerful emotions, has made her name a symbol of the idealistic aspirations of the entire Latin American world”
— poetry

1946 / Hermann Hesse
“for his inspired writings, which while growing in boldness and penetration, exemplify the classical humanitarian ideals and high qualities of style”
— novel, poetry

1947 / André Gide
“for his comprehensive and artistically significant writings, in which human problems and conditions have been presented with a fearless love of truth and keen psychological insight”
— novel, essay

1948 / T. S. Eliot
“for his outstanding, pioneer contribution to present-day poetry”
— poetry

1949 / William Faulkner
“for his powerful and artistically unique contribution to the modern American novel”
— novel, short story

1950 / Bertrand Russell
“in recognition of his varied and significant writings in which he champions humanitarian ideals and freedom of thought”
— philosophy

1951 / Pär Lagerkvist
“for the artistic vigour and true independence of mind with which he endeavours in his poetry to find answers to the eternal questions confronting mankind”
— poetry, novel, short story, drama

19521 / François Mauriac
“for the deep spiritual insight and the artistic intensity with which he has in his novels penetrated the drama of human life”
— novel, short story

19531 / Winston Churchill
“for his mastery of historical and biographical description as well as for brilliant oratory in defending exalted human values”
— history, essay

1954 / Ernest Hemingway
“for his mastery of the art of narrative, most recently demonstrated in The Old Man and the Sea, and for the influence that he has exerted on contemporary style”
— novel

1955 / Halldór Laxness
“for his vivid epic power, which has renewed the great narrative art of Iceland”
— novel, short story, drama, poetry

1956 / Juan Ramón Jiménez
“for his lyrical poetry, which in Spanish language constitutes an example of high spirit and artistical purity”
— poetry

1957 / Albert Camus
“for his important literary production, which with clear-sighted earnestness illuminates the problems of the human conscience in our times”
— novel, short story, drama, philosophy, essay

1958 / Boris Pasternak
“for his important achievement both in contemporary lyrical poetry and in the field of the great Russian epic tradition”
— novel, poetry, translation

19591 / Salvatore Quasimodo
“for his lyrical poetry, which with classical fire expresses the tragic experience of life in our own times”
— poetry

19601 / Saint-John Perse
“for the soaring flight and the evocative imagery of his poetry, which in a visionary fashion reflects the conditions of our time”
— poetry

19611 / Ivo Andrić
“for the epic force with which he has traced themes and depicted human destinies drawn from the history of his country”
— novel, short story

19621 / John Steinbeck
“for his realistic and imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humour and keen social perception”
— novel, short story, screenplay

19631 / Giorgos Seferis
“for his eminent lyrical writing, inspired by a deep feeling for the Hellenic world of culture”
— poetry, essay, memoirs

1964 / Jean-Paul Sartre
“for his work, which rich in ideas and filled with the spirit of freedom and the quest for truth, has exerted a far-reaching influence on our age”
— novel, short story, philosophy, drama, literary criticism, screenplay

1965 / Mikhail Sholokhov
“for the artistic power and integrity with which, in his epic of the Don, he has given expression to a historic phase in the life of the Russian people”
— novel

1966 / Shmuel Yosef Agnon
“for his profoundly characteristic narrative art with motifs from the life of the Jewish people”
— novel, short story
/ Nelly Sachs
“for her outstanding lyrical and dramatic writing, which interprets Israel’s destiny with touching strength”
— poetry, drama

1967 / Miguel Ángel Asturias
“for his vivid literary achievement, deep-rooted in the national traits and traditions of Indian peoples of Latin America”
— novel, poetry

1968 / Yasunari Kawabata
“for his narrative mastery, which with great sensibility expresses the essence of the Japanese mind”
— novel, short story

1969 / Samuel Beckett
“for his writing, which – in new forms for the novel and drama – in the destitution of modern man acquires its elevation”
— novel, drama, poetry

1970 / Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
“for the ethical force with which he has pursued the indispensable traditions of Russian literature”
— novel

1971 / Pablo Neruda
“for a poetry that with the action of an elemental force brings alive a continent’s destiny and dreams”
— poetry

1972 / Heinrich Böll
“for his writing, which through its combination of a broad perspective on his time and a sensitive skill in characterization has contributed to a renewal of German literature”
— novel, short story

1973 / Patrick White
“for an epic and psychological narrative art, which has introduced a new continent into literature”
— novel, short story, drama

1974 / Eyvind Johnson
“for a narrative art, farseeing in lands and ages, in the service of freedom”
— novel
/ Harry Martinson
“for writings that catch the dewdrop and reflect the cosmos
— poetry, novel, drama

1975 / Eugenio Montale
“for his distinctive poetry, which, with great artistic sensitivity, has interpreted human values under the sign of an outlook on life with no illusions”
— poetry

1976 / Saul Bellow
“for the human understanding and subtle analysis of contemporary culture that are combined in his work”
— novel, short story

1977 / Vicente Aleixandre
“for a creative poetic writing, which illuminates man’s condition in the cosmos and in present-day society, at the same time representing the great renewal of the traditions of Spanish poetry between the wars”
— poetry

1978 / Isaac Bashevis Singer
“for his impassioned narrative art which, with roots in a Polish-Jewish cultural tradition, brings universal human conditions to life”
— novel, short story, memoirs

1979 / Odysseas Elytis
“for his poetry, which, against the background of Greek tradition, depicts with sensuous strength and intellectual clear-sightedness modern man’s struggle for freedom and creativeness”
— poetry, essay

1980 / Czesław Miłosz
“who with uncompromising clear-sightedness voices man’s exposed condition in a world of severe conflicts”
— poetry, essay

1981 / Elias Canetti
“for writings marked by a broad outlook, a wealth of ideas and artistic power”
— novel, drama, memoirs, essay

1982 / Gabriel García Márquez
“for his novels and short stories, in which the fantastic and the realistic are combined in a richly composed world of imagination, reflecting a continent’s life and conflicts”
— novel, short story, screenplay

1983 / William Golding
“for his novels, which with the perspicuity of realistic narrative art and the diversity and universality of myth, illuminate the human condition in the world of today”
— novel, poetry, drama

1984 / Jaroslav Seifert
“for his poetry, which endowed with freshness, and rich inventiveness provides a liberating image of the indomitable spirit and versatility of man”
— poetry

1985 / Claude Simon
“who in his novel combines the poet’s and the painter’s creativeness with a deepened awareness of time in the depiction of the human condition”
— novel

1986 / Wole Soyinka
“who in a wide cultural perspective and with poetic overtones fashions the drama of existence”
— drama, novel, poetry

1987 / Joseph Brodsky
“for an all-embracing authorship, imbued with clarity of thought and poetic intensity”
— poetry, essay

1988 / Naguib Mahfouz
“who, through works rich in nuance – now clear-sightedly realistic, now evocatively ambiguous – has formed an Arabian narrative art that applies to all mankind”
— novel, short story

1989 / Camilo José Cela
“for a rich and intensive prose, which with restrained compassion forms a challenging vision of man’s vulnerability”
— novel, short story

1990 / Octavio Paz
“for impassioned writing with wide horizons, characterized by sensuous intelligence and humanistic integrity”
— poetry, essay

1991 / Nadine Gordimer
“who through her magnificent epic writing has – in the words of Alfred Nobel – been of very great benefit to humanity”
— novel, short story, essay

1992 / Derek Walcott
“for a poetic oeuvre of great luminosity, sustained by a historical vision, the outcome of a multicultural commitment”
— poetry, drama

1993 / Toni Morrison
“who in novels characterised by visionary force and poetic import, gives life to an essential aspect of American reality”
— novel

1994 / Kenzaburō Ōe
“who with poetic force creates an imagined world, where life and myth condense to form a disconcerting picture of the human predicament today”
— novel, short story

1995 / Seamus Heaney
“for works of lyrical beauty and ethical depth, which exalt everyday miracles and the living past”
— poetry

1996 / Wisława Szymborska
“for poetry that with ironic precision allows the historical and biological context to come to light in fragments of human reality”
— poetry

1997 / Dario Fo
“who emulates the jesters of the Middle Ages in scourging authority and upholding the dignity of the downtrodden”
— drama

1998 / José Saramago
“who with parables sustained by imagination, compassion and irony continually enables us once again to apprehend an elusory reality”
— novel, drama, poetry

1999 / Günter Grass
“whose frolicsome black fables portray the forgotten face of history”
— novel, drama, poetry

2000 / Gao Xingjian
“for an oeuvre of universal validity, bitter insights and linguistic ingenuity, which has opened new paths for the Chinese novel and drama”
— novel, drama, literary criticism

2001 / V. S. Naipaul
“for having united perceptive narrative and incorruptible scrutiny in works that compel us to see the presence of suppressed histories”
— novel, essay

2002 / Imre Kertész
“for writing that upholds the fragile experience of the individual against the barbaric arbitrariness of history”
— novel

2003 / J. M. Coetzee
“who in innumerable guises portrays the surprising involvement of the outsider”
— novel, essay, translation

2004 / Elfriede Jelinek
“for her musical flow of voices and counter-voices in novels and plays that with extraordinary linguistic zeal reveal the absurdity of society’s clichés and their subjugating power”
— novel, drama

2005 / Harold Pinter
“who in his plays uncovers the precipice under everyday prattle and forces entry into oppression’s closed rooms”
— drama, screenplay

2006 / Orhan Pamuk
“who in the quest for the melancholic soul of his native city has discovered new symbols for the clash and interlacing of cultures”
— novel, screenplay, essay

2007 / Doris Lessing
“that epicist of the female experience, who with scepticism, fire and visionary power has subjected a divided civilisation to scrutiny”
— novel, drama, poetry, short story, memoirs

2008 / J. M. G. Le Clézio
“author of new departures, poetic adventure and sensual ecstasy, explorer of a humanity beyond and below the reigning civilization”
— novel, short story, essay, translation

2009 / Herta Müller
“who, with the concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose, depicts the landscape of the dispossessed”
— novel, short story, poetry

2010 / Mario Vargas Llosa
“for his cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual’s resistance, revolt, and defeat”
— novel, short story, essay, drama, memoirs

2011 / Tomas Tranströmer
“because, through his condensed, translucent images, he gives us fresh access to reality”
— poetry, translation

2012 / Mo Yan
“who with hallucinatory realism merges folk tales, history and the contemporary”
— novel, short story

2013 / Alice Munro
“master of the contemporary short story”
— short story

2014 / Patrick Modiano
“for the art of memory with which he has evoked the most ungraspable human destinies and uncovered the life-world of the occupation”
— novel

2015 / Svetlana Alexievich
“for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time”
— history, essay

2016 / Bob Dylan
“for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”
— poetry, songwriting

2017 / Kazuo Ishiguro
“who, in novels of great emotional force, has uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world”
— novel

2018 / Olga Tokarczuk
“for a narrative imagination that with encyclopedic passion represents the crossing of boundaries as a form of life”
— novel, short story, poetry, essay

2019 / Peter Handke
“For an influential work that with linguistic ingenuity has explored the periphery and the specificity of human experience.”
— novel, short story, drama


English style guide
The English language
Booker / “Nobel” / Pulitzer
Elizabethan era / “Love letters”
“Definitive List of Literary Works”
French in English / Latin in English
Anthology / Chronology / Terminology
Phrases & idioms with their etymologies
Literary criticism: analysing poetry & prose
Glossary of works, writers and literary devices:
📙 Books       📕 Poets       📗 Thinkers       📘 Writers

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Paradise Lost
Paradise Lost
Simone de Beauvoir (1908–1986) was a French writer, philosopher and political activist. She is known for her 1949 treatise The Second Sex, a detailed analysis of women's oppression and a foundational tract of contemporary feminism.
The Second Sex
Delta of Venus
Delta of Venus
A Room of one's own
A Room of One’s Own
War and Peace is the 1869 novel by Russian author Leo Tolstoy. It is regarded as a classic of world literature. (The novel chronicles the French invasion of Russia and the impact of the Napoleonic era on Tsarist society through the stories of five Russian aristocratic families.) Tolstoy said War and Peace is "not a novel, even less is it a poem, and still less a historical chronicle." Tolstoy regarded Anna Karenina as his first true novel.
War and Peace
The Trial, by Franz Kafka (1914 [1925]) -- A terrifying psychological trip into the life of one Joseph K., an ordinary man who wakes up one day to find himself accused of a crime he did not commit, a crime whose nature is never revealed to him. Once arrested, he is released, but must report to court on a regular basis--an event that proves maddening, as nothing is ever resolved. As he grows more uncertain of his fate, his personal life--including work at a bank and his relations with his landlady and a young woman who lives next door--becomes increasingly unpredictable. As K. tries to gain control, he succeeds only in accelerating his own excruciating downward spiral.
The Trial
Brave New World (1932) is a dystopian novel by English author Aldous Huxley. Set in a futuristic World State, whose citizens are environmentally engineered into an intelligence-based social hierarchy, the novel anticipates huge scientific advancements in reproductive technology, sleep-learning, psychological manipulation and classical conditioning that are combined to make a dystopian society which is challenged by only a single individual: the story's protagonist (one Bernard Marx). In 1999, the Modern Library ranked Brave New World at number five on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th c.
Brave New World
Beloved is a 1987 novel by the late American writer Toni Morrison. The novel won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1988 and, in a survey of writers and literary critics compiled by The New York Times, it was ranked the best work of American fiction from 1981 to 2006. The work, set after the American Civil War of 1861 to 1865, was inspired by the life of Margaret Garner, an African American who escaped slavery by crossing the Ohio River to Ohio, a free state. Garner was subsequently captured and decided to kill her infant daughter rather than have her taken into slavery.
The Grapes of Wrath

The Prophet is a book of 26 prose poetry fables written in English by the Lebanese-American poet and writer Kahlil Gibran. The Prophet has been translated into over 100 different languages, making it one of the most translated books in history. Moreover, it has never been out of print.The Prophet
“If you love somebody, let them go, if they don’t return, they were never yours.”
The Essential Rumi, by Rumi ~ e.g. ~ 'Lovers don't finally meet somewhere. They're in each other all along.'The Essential Rumi
“Lovers do not finally meet somewhere. They are in each other all along.”
Ways of Escape, a journey of sorts -- 'I was dead, deader than dead because, I was still alive.'Ways of Escape:
a journey of sorts

A short excerpt from the book: “I was dead, deader than dead because, I was still alive.”
The Significance of Literature, the podcast series.The Significance of

A podcast series that chronologically charts the key works of poetry and prose.
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