Nobel Prize Award for Literature 1928 to 1932

About the Nobel Prize Award for Literature 1928 to 1932 including the authors such as Thomas Mann and Sinclair Lewis, their works, and history.


1928 Sigrid Undset (1882-1949), Norwegian

Work: Kristin Lavransdatter

Nobel Laureate: "I have lived in this land for 2,000 years," declared the archaeologist's daughter who earned a Nobel Prize for her powerful description of Norwegian life in the Middle Ages. Scandinavia's most celebrated woman writer started as a secretary at 17. In 1909-10 years and two books later--a travel scholarship took her to Berlin, Munich, and Rome, where she met the Norwegian painter A. C. Svarstad, whom she married in 1912 in Antwerp. The "unhandy housewife" settled down to bring up children (three from Svarstad's previous marriage plus three she bore him) and bring forth weighty historical novels. When she converted to Catholicism in 1924, her marriage was annulled. With the invasion of Norway in 1940, this outspoken opponent of Nazism fled to the U.S., where people "wear their ideals boldly on their sleeve," and where she continued to support the resistance movement. She had little love for the Germans anyway, once remarking, "das Volk der Dichter und Denker both write and think damned badly." She collected rare old lace and (on her 65th birthday) Denmark's highest accolade, the Grand Cross of the Order of St. Olav.

1929 Thomas Mann (1875-1955), German

Work: Buddenbrooks

1930 Sinclair Lewis (1885-1951), American

Work: Main Street; Babbitt; Arrowsmith

1931 Erik A. Karlfeldt (1846-1931), Swedish

Work: Dalecarlian Frescoes in Rhyme

1932 John Galsworthy (1867-1933), British

Work: The Forsyte Saga

Nobel Laureate: He was a man of property, born into the privileged classes, which he dissected with deft detachment. Educated at Harrow and Oxford, he graduated from law school with honors but was spared the "beastly dull" grind of practicing. Instead, he went to sea and saw the world. He tried his hand at fiction--at the suggestion of his cousin's wife, Ada. One suggestion led to another. John and Ada fell in love and eventually went off together. They were married in 1905, on the day her divorce came through. Four books--published under a pseudonym--failed. But The Man of Property, completed in 1906, started The Forsyte Saga, which ended up netting him a Nobel Prize and (decades later) a vast television audience--on both sides of the Atlantic. He also wrote plays which were stagey but socially motivated and motivating. (Justice dramatized prison inequities and stimulated prison reforms.) He said no to a knighthood but yes to that exclusive British honor, the Order of Merit. Emotionally committed to the underdog, he loved dogs (and horses), hated hunting. He and Ada lived in style, sometimes with as many as eight full-time servants. "I do wish I had the gift of writing," he had written at age 27. "I really think that is the nicest way of making money. . . ."

Nobel Lore: 770 international celebrities--among them Bertrand Russell, Harold Laski, Edwin Markham, and Albert Einstein--signed a petition nominating Upton Sinclair. Within the Nobel committee, Prof. Fredrik Book urged the candidacy of Paul Ernst because this neglected, uncommercial poet desperately needed the kudos (and the cash). But the affluent and established Galsworthy was deemed most worthy.

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