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Forgotten Nobel Prize Laureates: A Glimpse into Literature’s Historical Overlook

(THE VOICE OF EU) | The Nobel Prize in Literature is often hailed as the pinnacle of literary achievement, but delving into its annals reveals a trove of overlooked laureates.

While names like Camus, García Márquez, Faulkner, Beckett, and Kawabata adorn the covers of cherished collections, there exists an array of unfamiliar laureates whose contributions have faded into obscurity.


In this exploration, we unearth the forgotten winners and scrutinize the evolving landscape of this esteemed literary honor.

The Shifting Tides of Nobel Laureates

Early Regional Emphasis

In its nascent years, the Nobel Prize in Literature exhibited a distinct regional bias. The first two decades saw laureates with relatively low profiles, punctuated only by notable exceptions like Kipling (1907), Tagore (1913), and Lagerlöf (1909).

This regional focus persisted until a gradual shift began in the 1920s.

The Influence of Time

As time advances, a natural sifting process occurs, relegating once-celebrated names to the recesses of memory. Each era curates its literary darlings, often relegating bestsellers to dusty shelves.

The Post-War Introspection

Post-World War II, the Nobel Prize for Literature turned introspective, notably following Jean-Paul Sartre’s refusal of the award in 1964.

A phase of globalization, catalyzed by Octavio Paz’s triumph in 1990, introduced writers from far-flung corners, challenging the ethnocentrism of Western literary circles.

Diverse Voices

The 20th century predominantly saw laureates from the U.S., Canada, and Europe, with Africa, Asia, and the rest of the Americas accounting for a mere 20%.

However, a perceptible transformation is underway. Diverse voices are now making their mark, ensuring a more inclusive representation.

In the last 15 years, Europeans and Americans have secured only 66% of the awards.

Selma Lagerlöf - Forgotten Nobel Prize Laureates: A Glimpse into Literature's Historical Overlook
The first woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, Selma Lagerlöf (1858-1940) of Sweden. Getty Images

Forgotten Spanish Nobel Laureates

Shining Stars and Fading Echoes

Within the realm of Spanish Nobel laureates, luminaries like Jiménez (1956), Aleixandre (1977), and Cela (1989) continue to cast a long shadow.

Yet, contemporaries such as Echegaray (1904) and Benavente (1922) have receded into relative anonymity.

Notable Omissions

Some revered authors, like Pérez Galdós and Valle-Inclán, never graced the list of laureates, leaving a void in the literary canon.

Wole Soyinka - Forgotten Nobel Prize Laureates: A Glimpse into Literature's Historical Overlook
Wole Soyinka of Nigeria, the 1986 winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Overlooked Giants: A Testament to Nobel’s Scope

The Unhonored Titans

The Nobel Prize has not been bestowed upon literary giants like Joyce, Nabokov, Roth, and Marías.

Marías, for instance, possesses all the hallmarks of a laureate, with a prolific multilingual body of work, yet the honor eluded him.

The Legacy Beyond Nobel

The absence of a Nobel does not diminish an author’s lasting legacy. The quintessential 20th-century novel canon, comprising Proust, Joyce, Kafka, Faulkner, and Woolf, features only one Nobel laureate, Faulkner (1949).

The Transience of Literary Success

Deciphering Literary Fame

Examining the impact of the Nobel Prize for Literature unravels the intricacies of literary renown and celebrity. It serves as a reminder that this accolade does not guarantee enduring recognition.


Authors may ascend to prominence in one era, only to fade in another. Conversely, forgotten voices can resurface, and canonical figures in one region may be marginalized elsewhere.

In the realm of literature, success is transient, a memento mori.

William Faulkner - Forgotten Nobel Prize Laureates: A Glimpse into Literature's Historical Overlook
American writer William Faulkner (1897-1962), one of the 20th century greats who received a Nobel Prize.

A Chronicle of Literary Resilience

The Nobel Prize in Literature, while a coveted acknowledgment, is not the sole arbiter of an author’s legacy.

The history of overlooked laureates bear witness to the ever-changing currents of literary acclaim.

In this journey through the corridors of literary history, we uncover the voices that time nearly erased and reflect on the impermanence of literary renown.

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Welcome back, Samuel Beckett | Culture

The 20th century brought us Stalin, Mao, two world wars, the Holocaust, atomic bombs and a couple more carnages that I would rather not recall. Several million people died as a result, according to the most conservative calculations. Logically, the soul of Europeans was shaken, and it is admirable that we have survived as a species. A Martian would have expected us to commit suicide once and for all with a big nuclear bash.

The battered world conscience led to several new outcomes in terms of human representation. Living with the constant threat of extinction affected artists, who are the ones that truly represent us and not politicians. So the artists began to represent us as they saw us: strange, deformed, shapeless, anomalous, invisible, crippled, stuttering, or simply mute.

We have been more temperate for several years now, and it seems that we are now able to analyze that past, which was called “the avant-garde,” with some calm. Not everywhere, of course, but it is possible in a West that is fading, but which is no longer massacring its slaves. And the effect that this awareness of destruction had on literature was the emergence of a group of immense writers who could no longer represent humans in a luminous and heroic way, so to speak. However, it would be a very bad idea to leave them for dead. Joyce, Proust, Kafka, Faulkner, Bernhard, Manganelli, Benet, Rulfo — throughout the West, a literature took shape during the 20th century in which only the bare form remained with a capacity to simply be. And one of its main writers was Samuel Beckett.

It is a source of joy that this difficult, harsh, dark, but wise literature’s ability to fascinate, moralize and illuminate us has not run dry. And reading these artists is a very convenient way to understand that everything could go dark at any moment. I am currently celebrating the release of a new Spanish translation of Watt, Beckett’s last novel in English, by an affordable publishing house that can reach many students (Cátedra).

The story behind this novel is another novel in itself, well told by the translator José Francisco Fernández in his extensive foreword to the new Spanish version. Beckett wrote it while fleeing from one hideout to another as a member of the Resistance, pursued by the Nazis who were occupying France. In those absurd conditions, Beckett carried his notebooks, in which he was writing and annotating what would finally become the novel Watt, which is the name of the main character, who is as non-existent as Godot, the most famous of Beckett’s characters. Watt has a partner, Mr. Knott, whom he serves in a parody of the old novels of masters and servants that have been immortalized thanks to television series like Upstairs, Downstairs.

Rejected by the publishing world

Although he finished it in 1945, Watt was not published until 1953 after being rejected by almost all English and American publishers, who were very reluctant to recognize that this convulsive and sarcastic prose was a faithful portrait of 20th-century civilization. And once it was published it barely made an impact. It was not until 1968 (what a year!), when it was published in French by the Minuit publishing house, in the author’s version and with the help of the Janvier couple, that enthusiasm for the novel would begin to get some traction. The French powers-that-be recognized themselves in the portrait of the warped, disintegrated human race, described with a lacerating irony that the Irishman created out of nothing.

There were other effects that fascinated those who dominated literary opinion at the time. One of them was the obvious caricature of Descartes, a philosopher whom Beckett always counted among his favorites, and the reference to whom was immediately picked up by the masters of structuralism and deconstruction.

Welcome back, then, to our Beckett, a precise portraitist of terrifying years that could return at any moment.

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The Hat Worn By Napoleon Bonaparte Sold For $2.1 Million At The Auction

A faded felt bicorne hat worn by Napoleon Bonaparte sold for $2.1 million at an auction on of the French emperor’s belongings.

Yes, that’s $2.1 million!!

The signature broad, black hat, one of a handful still in existence that Napoleon wore when he ruled 19th-century France and waged war in Europe, was initially valued at 600,000 to 800,000 euros ($650,000-870,000). It was the centerpiece of Sunday’s auction collected by a French industrialist who died last year.

The Hat Worn By Napoleon Bonaparte Sold For $2.1 Million At The Auction

But the bidding quickly jumped higher and higher until Jean Pierre Osenat, president of the Osenat auction house, designated the winner.

‘’We are at 1.5 million (Euros) for Napoleon’s hat … for this major symbol of the Napoleonic epoch,” he said, as applause rang out in the auction hall. The buyer, whose identity was not released, must pay 28.8% in commissions according to Osenat, bringing the overall cost to 1.9 million euros ($2.1 million).

While other officers customarily wore their bicorne hats with the wings facing front to back, Napoleon wore his with the ends pointing toward his shoulders. The style, known as “en bataille,” or in battle, made it easier for his troops to spot their leader in combat.

The hat on sale was first recovered by Col. Pierre Baillon, a quartermaster under Napoleon, according to the auctioneers. The hat then passed through many hands before industrialist Jean-Louis Noisiez acquired it.

The entrepreneur spent more than a half-century assembling his collection of Napoleonic memorabilia, firearms, swords and coins before his death in 2022.

The sale came days before the release of Ridley Scott’s film Napoleon with Joaquin Phoenix, which is rekindling interest in the controversial French ruler.

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The Call for AI Regulation in Creative Industries

THE VOICE OF EU | Widespread concerns have surged among artists and creatives in various domains – country singers, authors, television showrunners, and musicians – voicing apprehension about the disruptive impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on their professions.

These worries have prompted an urgent plea to the U.S. government for regulatory action to protect their livelihoods from the encroaching threat posed by AI technology.

The Artists’ Plea

A notable rise in appeals to regulate AI has emerged, drawing attention to the potential risks AI poses to creative industries.

Thousands of letters, including those from renowned personalities like Justine Bateman and Lilla Zuckerman, underscore the peril AI models represent to the traditional structure of entertainment businesses.

The alarm extends to the music industry, expressed by acclaimed songwriter Marc Beeson, highlighting AI’s potential to both enhance and jeopardize an essential facet of American artistry.

The Call for AI Regulation in Creative Industries

Copyright Infringement Concerns

The primary contention arises from the unsanctioned use of copyrighted human works as fodder to train AI systems. The concerns about AI ingesting content from the internet without permission or compensation have sparked significant distress among artists and their representative entities.

While copyright laws explicitly protect works of human authorship, the influx of AI-generated content questions the boundaries of human contribution and authorship in an AI-influenced creative process.

The Fair Use Debate

Leading technology entities like Google, Microsoft, and Meta Platforms argue that their utilization of copyrighted materials in AI training aligns with the “fair use” doctrine—a limited use of copyrighted material for transformative purposes.

They claim that AI training isn’t aimed at reproducing individual works but rather discerning patterns across a vast corpus of content, citing precedents like Google’s legal victories in the digitization of books.

The Conflict and Seeking Resolution

Despite court rulings favoring tech companies in interpreting copyright laws regarding AI, voices like Heidi Bond, a former law professor and author, critique this comparison, emphasizing that AI developers often obtain content through unauthorized means.

Shira Perlmutter, the U.S. Register of Copyrights, acknowledges the Copyright Office’s pivotal role in navigating this complex landscape and determining the legitimacy of the fair use defense in the AI context.

The Road Ahead

The outpouring of concern from creative professionals and industry stakeholders emphasizes the urgency for regulatory frameworks to safeguard creative works while acknowledging the evolving role of AI in content creation.

The Copyright Office’s meticulous review of over 9,700 public comments seeks to strike a balance between innovation and the protection of creative rights in an AI-driven era. As the discussion continues, the convergence of legal precedents and ethical considerations remains a focal point for shaping the future landscape of AI in creative industries.

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