The Nobel Prize in Literature 1950
The Nobel Prize in Literature (Swedish: Nobelpriset i litteratur) is awarded annually, since 1901, to an author from any country who has, in the words from the will of Alfred Nobel, produced "the most outstanding work of an idealistic tendency" (original Swedish: den som inom litteraturen har producerat det utmärktaste i idealisk riktning). The "work" in this case refers to an author's work as a whole, though individual works are sometimes also cited. The Swedish Academy decides who, if anyone, will receive the prize in any given year and announces the name of the chosen laureate in early October.
Nobel's choice of emphasis on "idealistic" or "ideal" (in English translation) in his criteria for the Nobel Prize in Literature has led to recurrent controversy. (In the original Swedish, the word idealisk can be translated as either "idealistic" or "ideal".) In the early twentieth century, the Nobel Committee interpreted the intent of the will strictly and did not award certain world-renowned authors of the time such as Leo Tolstoy and Henrik Ibsen. More recently, the wording has been interpreted more liberally, and the Prize is awarded both for lasting literary merit and for evidence of consistent idealism on some significant level, most recently a kind of idealism championing human rights on a broad scale, and hence more political, some would argue.
"The highlight of the Nobel Prize Award Ceremony in Stockholm is when each Nobel Laureate steps forward to receive the prize from the hands of His Majesty the King of Sweden. ... Under the eyes of a watching world, the Nobel Laureate receives three things: a diploma, a medal and a document confirming the prize amount" ("What the Nobel Laureates Receive"). In 2007 the Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to Doris Lessing, an English citizen of the United Kingdom, cited as "that epicist of the female experience, who with scepticism, fire and visionary power has subjected a divided civilisation to scrutiny"; she receives a prize amount of 10,000,000 SEK (slightly more than €1 million, or US$1.4 million).
The Swedish Academy has attracted significant criticism in recent years. Some contend that many well-known writers have not been awarded the prize or even been nominated, whereas others contend that others, who are already well known, do not deserve it. There have also been controversies involving alleged political interests relating to the nomination process and ultimate selection of some of the recent literary Laureates.