Nobel Prize for Literature 1931 - 1935

About the winners of the Nobel Prize for literature from 1931 to 1935 including Galsworthy, Bunin, and Pirandello as well as behind the scenes information on the decision.

1931 Erik A. Karlfeldt (1846-1931), Swedish. Work: Dalecarlian Frescoes in Rhyme. Behind the Award--Karlfeldt was a poet and librarian, secretary of the Swedish Academy, and a friend of all the judges. He had turned down the prize once. This time, because he needed the money, he agreed to accept it. Karlfeldt won over Maxim Gorki of Russia, among others, despite the fact that he died 6 months before the voting. The judges ignored the rules in order to honor him posthumously and give security to his widow and daughters.

1932 John Galsworthy (1867-1933), British. Work: The Forsyte Saga.

Behind the Award--The popular favorite was muckraker Upton Sinclair, who had been nominated by an international petition signed by 770 prominent persons including Bertrand Russell, Harold Laski, Edwin Markham, Albert Einstein--but in the final voting he was defeated.

1933 Ivan A. Bunin (1870-1953), French. Work: Gentleman from San Francisco; Well of Days.

Behind the Award--Bunin was the only Russian to win the prize 1st 33 years of the awards. Actually he was an anticommunist expatriate who had not seen Russia in 15 years. A minor novelist who had translated Hiawatha into Russian, Bunin lived in a Paris attic. Explained the secretary of the Swedish Academy privately, "We voted for Bunin to pay off our consciences on Chekhov and Tolstoi."

1934 Luigi Pirandello (1867-1936), Italian. Work: Six Characters in Search of an Author.

Behind the Award--Said Malcolm Cowley, "The Italian Ambassador in Stockholm had to engage in backstairs intrigue to keep the prize from going to Benedetto Croce, the one Italian who clearly deserved it. Pirandello, the successful candidate, was a politically harmless man on whom the dictator [Mussolini] could rely." So the fascist-hating Croce was passed over, and Pirandello won the $41,318.

1935 No Award

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