NEW FEATURE: VOTE & EARN NEATOPOINTS!
Submit your own Neatorama post and vote for others' posts to earn NeatoPoints that you can redeem for T-shirts, hoodies and more over at the NeatoShop!


Why Didn't Tolkien Win the Nobel Prize?

I'm not a fan of The Lord of the Rings, but I have wondered how such a monumentally influential author was overlooked for a Nobel Prize in literature. C.S. Lewis nominated J.R.R. Tolkien in 1961. The governing committee considered him, but ultimately awarded the prize to the Yugoslavian writer Ivo Andric. Why? Recently declassified documents explain the committee's reasoning:
Swedish reporter Andreas Ekström delved into 1961's previously classified documents on their release this week, to find the jury passed over names including Lawrence Durrell, Robert Frost, Graham Greene, EM Forster and Tolkien to come up with their eventual winner, Yugoslavian writer Ivo Andri?. [...]

The prose of Tolkien – who was nominated by his friend and fellow fantasy author CS Lewis – "has not in any way measured up to storytelling of the highest quality", wrote jury member Anders Österling. Frost, on the other hand, was dismissed because of his "advanced age" – he was 86 at the time – with the jury deciding the American poet's years were "a fundamental obstacle, which the committee regretfully found it necessary to state". Forster was also ruled out for his age – a consideration that no longer bothers the jury, which awarded the prize to the 87-year-old Doris Lessing in 2007 – with Österling calling the author "a shadow of his former self, with long lost spiritual health".

Durrell, meanwhile, "gives a dubious aftertaste … because of [his] monomaniacal preoccupation with erotic complications", while Italian novelist Alberto Moravia "suffers from … a general monotony".

Greene, who never won the Nobel, was 1961's runner-up, with Danish writer Karen Blixen, author of Out of Africa, coming in third.

Do you agree with the Nobel committee?

Link -via blastr | Photo: Biography Channel

Tolkien told stories for the sake of telling stories--the ancient tradition of venerating those who make sacrifices on behalf of others. He hated anything preachy or political, especially allegory. He probably cost himself the prize by admitting as much.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
If he didnt qualify for a legit reason thats fine. Why did Frost get cut for being old? How does being old make his writing not excelent? I dont understand that.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
That's "Andric" (not Andri), but with an accent mark over the c, to represent a "ch" sound. I suppose it was that special character that was mis-rendered as a ? in your source material.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Hugely biased award. Llosa's win in 2010 ended a run of 14 European winners in 15 years. 2011 reverted to type with a win for a Swedish poet. The panel had no less than 5 Swedish poets on it and others were Swedish critics specialising in poetry, so no conflict of interest there then. Sweden now has 8 wins which is more than the whole of South America and more than Asia and Africa combined.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
"Advanced age" is a pretty cruel reason to ignore someone's works. I know they were trying to avoid the awardee dying before getting the prize, but someone who makes it to 88 shows they can beat the odds...
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Isn't the prize meant to assist someone with their work? If they're of an advanced age, they may not write much more.

As for Tolkien, the Hobbit was a way better story as far as books go. I read LOTR years ago, and it's a hu-uge disappointment to read. I doubt I could wade through it again today.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
I got through Fellowship and halfway through Two Towers before getting too bored to continue. But I could definitely recognize the clever composition of his work. It just wasn't for me.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
I never had much time for Tolkien. Not only was Lord of the rings boring in the extreme the guy was totally arrogant. He claimed he wrote the books because England needed a mythology. Two problems in this respect, one being that England already has some pretty good mythology. I can't believe for exaple that he'd never heard of King Arthur. The second problem being that if he thought he was creating a new mythology for England why did he rip so much of it off from other countries myths?

So his reasons for his "great" work were specious and his story telling dull. Getting bogged down in pointless detail may appeal to geeks, but it isn't great story telling. The guy was totally overrated and did not deserve a Nobel prize.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
I dont think that epic fantasy, no matter how good (i'm a Tolkien fan) is a Nobel Prize material. Yes, Nobel prize is very biased (Gandhi wasn't awarded!!!!!), but I think that they made the right choice. Andri? is a very good writer. Awarding someone just becouse he is popular is pure ignorance.

There are many writers who deserved the Nobel, Joyce, Virginia Wolf, Tolstoy, Rushdie, Emile Zola, but never recieved it, and Tolkien is definitely not one of them.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Damn it, I'm about to lose my geek membership-card:

They didn't award it for the same reason WarHammer novelizations don't win. It's turgid power-fantasy nonsense aimed at 13-year old boys. Give it for LOTR, you might as well give it for Noddy books and Marvel comic story arcs. The reason for Robert Frost not getting the nod was vile.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Jolly, you show exactly why England did need a mythology, from Tolkien's point of view: namely, the Arthurian legends were French in origin. Courtesy of repeated invasion, whatever original mythology England had was long-since replaced by French sources.

Philboyd, way to go! You've now demonstrated that you didn't understand the books at all, if you ever read them. (If you're just making this comment based on the movies, you're even more to blame for being so absurdly silly.)

Whether Tolkien deserved a Nobel is another question, but some of the comments on this thread are just silly.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Login to comment.
Click here to access all of this post's 15 comments




Email This Post to a Friend
"Why Didn't Tolkien Win the Nobel Prize?"

Separate multiple emails with a comma. Limit 5.

 

Success! Your email has been sent!

close window
X

This website uses cookies.

This website uses cookies to improve user experience. By using this website you consent to all cookies in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

I agree
 
Learn More