Nobel Prize Award for Literature 1926 to 1927

About the Nobel Prize Award for Literature 1926 to 1927 including the authors such as Bergson and Deledda, their works, and history.


1926 Grazia Deledda (1875-1936), Italian

Work: The Mother

Nobel Laureate: Daughter of a wealthy land-owner, she led a sheltered and literally insular existence. She was 25 before she set foot outside her Sardinian birthplace. She had her first short story published, at 13, by a Roman fashion magazine, and by the time she was 21 she had published three novels with the Sardinian setting that was to be the backdrop for almost all her writings. In 1900 she married a civil servant, and they settled in Rome. She kept house, brought up children, did exquisite embroidery, and went right on writing--about Sardinia, of course, because "I know and love Sardinia. Its people are my people. Its mountains and valleys are part of me . . . . "The shy housewife who believed a woman's place was in the home proved that a woman's place was also in the (Italian) Academy. She became the second woman to receive the Nobel Prize for literature. Mussolini was one of her admirers.

Nobel Lore: The judges had decided to honor an Italian but had difficulty deciding which Italian. The choice was among minor historian Guglielmo Ferrero, the relatively unknown Grazia Deledda, and the flamboyant Gabriele D'Annunzio. The committee would probably have overlooked D'Annunzio's minor eccentricities (like packing 100 umbrellas when he visited London), but his philandering made Casanova look like an amateur. He had more mistresses than he could keep count of, and wrote "the most swinish novel ever written" about his affair with actress Eleonora Duse. The Swedish academicians agreed that his poetry was magnificent, but they also agreed that his not-so-private life was bizarre enough to disqualify him. Deledda won by default.

1927 Henri Bergson (1859-1941), French

Work: Creative Evolution

Nobel Laureate: Of Irish-Polish extraction, born into a cultured cosmopolitan home in Montmartre, Bergson began racking up academic honors at age nine. He became a professor of philosophy at the College de France in 1900. Fame came with Time and Free Will, 1889, Matter and Memory, 1896, and Creative Evolution, 1907, which won him the Nobel Prize 20 years later. He married a cousin of Marcel Proust and tried to live a quiet life, but celebrity seekers pursued him. Fashionable Parisians mobbed his lecture halls, and he was deluged with fan mail. In 1913 he visited the U.S., which he described as "a country of interrupted conversations," and lectured at Columbia University. He was elected to the Academie Francaise in 1914, and was president, from 1921 to 1925, of the League of Nations Committee on Intellectual Cooperation. The Vichy government benignly exempted him from decrees requiring Jews to resign from official posts, but Bergson (who had declared his "moral adherence" to Catholicism) scorned the loaded favor. He quit his honorary chair at the College de France and rose from what was virtually his deathbed to register publicly as a Jew. Only 20 mourners attended the funeral of the man whom Paul Valery eulogized as "the last great name of the European intellect."

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