Member Blogs > Books Tell You WhyGetting to Know Nobel Laureate Verner von Heidenstam

  • Thu, 06 Jul 2017 08:00:00    Permalink
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    The Nobel committee is known for its “prize motivation” citations when it awards its coveted Prizes each year. We hear these short snippets in articles and press releases about each winner, and they serve their purpose well: they are brief snapshots of why the winner won. While Nobel Prize in Literature winners are chosen based on the entire body of their work, in some cases, the committee cites a specific example. For example, in 1954 when Ernest Hemingway won, the committee said it was “for his mastery of the art of narrative, most recently demonstrated in The Old Man and the Sea…” On the opposite end of the spectrum, sometimes the prize motivation is much, much more over-arching. Case in point: when Carl Gustaf Verner von Heidenstam won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1916, the Nobel committee said he was awarded “in recognition of his significance as the leading representative of a new era in our literature.” This is certainly high praise, but also quite general. Who was Verner von Heidenstam? What did he write, and how did he lead us into a new era of literature?

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