Nobel Prize Award for Literature 1905 to 1912

About the Nobel Prize Award for Literature 1905 to 1912 including the authors such as Kipling and Maeterlinck, their works, and history.


1905 Henryk Sienkiewicz (1846-1916), Polish

Work: Quo Vadis?

Nobel Laureate: At the University of Warsaw, he studied law, medicine, history, and literature, then left without taking his finals. In 1876 he covered the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia for the Gazeta Polska and tried to set up a Polish commune in California. He returned home by way of London, Paris, and Rome. In the 1880s he edited the newspaper Slowo and produced a 13-volume series of novels set in 17th-century Poland that captivated the Polish masses. His greatest success, Quo Vadis?, a panoramic novel of Nero's Rome published in 1896, brought him far-reaching acclaim. Translated into dozens of different languages, it is one of the world's all-time best-sellers. And it's a safe bet that many who haven't read the book have seen the film. He was very prolific (the complete edition of his works runs to 60 volumes) and very popular. The Polish people celebrated his literary jubilee by presenting him with a country estate. Essentially apolitical, he became the unofficial spokesman of the Poles. He died in Switzerland while organizing relief for Polish war victims. Heraldry fascinated the youthful Sienkiewicz, partly because of his vaunted patrician antecedents. But his roots were quite close to the surface. His great-grandfather was a Lithuanian Tartar upon whom nobility was conferred in 1775.

Nobel Lore: Is half a laurel better than none? The Nobel committee members considered dividing the award between Sienkiewicz and his compatriot Eliza Orzeszkowa, but they concluded (1) that it was undesirable to split the prize two years in a row and (2) that Orzeszkowa, a feminist well ahead of her time, wasn't really a gold medalist.

1906 Giosue Carducci (1835-1907), Italian

Work: Barbarian Odes

1907 Rudyard Kipling (1856-1936), British

Work: The Jungle Book; Captains Courageous

1908 Rudolf C. Eucken (1846-1926), German

Work: Meaning and Value of Life

1909 Selma Lagerlof (1858-1940), Swedish

Work: Story of Gosta Berling

1910 Paul von Heyse (1830-1914), German

Work: Novellen

1911 Maurice Maeterlinck (1862-1949), Belgian

Work: The Blue Bird

1912 Gerhart Hauptmann (1862-1946), German

Work: The Weavers

Nobel Laureate: His father wanted him to be a farmer, but young Gerhart believed the pen was mightier than the plow. Expelled from art school, he went to Rome to study sculpture anyway. At 23 he married a wealthy German woman and turned his attention to the theater. With his first play, Before Dawn, produced in 1889, came overnight notoriety. It established him as the exponent of naturalistic drama. Three years later, he wrote his most important work, The Weavers, which chronicled the revolt of poverty-stricken peons in 1844 and drew international rave reviews. "He stands at life's zenith," noted his biographer in 1897. "We wait for what is to come." What came was a veritable landslide: tragedies, comedies, a travel book, novels, an epic poem, and what one critic called "a great deal of unmistakable tripe." The center of a literary cult, he lived in baronial splendor in the Silesian mountains. Yet the final curtain came down on an act that was less than edifying when the onetime social democrat paid allegiance to the Nazi regime.

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