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Secrets behind the 1961 Nobel prize in Literature revealed

Secrets behind the 1961 Nobel prize in Literature revealed

Published: 03 Jan 2012 12:35 GMT+01:00
Updated: 03 Jan 2012 12:35 GMT+01:00

No outsider is privy to what goes on behind locked doors when the Nobel committee decides the winner of Sweden's prestigious literature prize - not until fifty years later when the documents become available to the public at the Nobel Library in Stockholm.

For some six years, Andreas Ekström, a reporter from the daily newspaper Sydsvenskan, has gone to the Nobel Library in January to dig up the secrets behind the choice each year.

And according to Ekström, he is always as thrilled to visit the esteemed chambers.

"As a literature 'geek' I'm always excited to read well written critique on literature, and one really gets to do that when studying expert statements about the long lost and forgotten authors," he told The Local.

"The Swedish Academy and the Nobel Library are indeed fine institutions with a certain aura to them.”

On January 2nd, the 50-year confidentiality expired for the documents pertaining the 1961 award, finally won by Ivo Andric, the Yugoslav novelist.

Ekström once again buried himself in the half-century old documents inside the beautiful Nobel Library in Stockholm to find out what the committee had to say on the different authors considered for the prize.

He found that the committee had issued some rather withering verdicts on some of the twentieth century's most celebrated writers, saying Lord of the Rings author J.R.R. Tolkien had failed to produce "first rate" prose and British writer Lawrence Durrell's work left a "questionable aftertaste".

It also accused Italian novelist Alberto Moravia's work of being "monotonous".

Other authors rejected that year included American poet Robert Frost, Swiss author Friedrich Dürrenmatt and Russian novelist Mikhail Sholokhov, who won the prize four years later.

Ekström picked out some choice comments - and tweeted them as he went.

Here is a list of some eye-catching quotes.

Joel Linde (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

22:10 January 20, 2012 by janeway
Never heard of Ivo Andric. But that's not surprising. The Swedish Academy usually award the Nobel Prize to unknown authors and bypass the more popular once. Last year's pick, Tranströmer, are maybe wellknown, but his poetry are not very different from or superior to anything written by a teenager. Tolkien, Lindgren and many others have written books read by millions. No candidates like these will ever receive the prize.
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