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  • Sat, 07 Oct 2017 08:00:00    Permalink
    Notable Nobel Prize Firsts

    In 1895, Alfred Nobel—Swedish chemist, philanthropist, and inventor of dynamite—died. In his will, Nobel dedicated the bulk of his massive estate toward awarding five yearly prizes. This, then, is how the Nobel Prizes in Chemistry, Physical Science, Medicine, Peace, and Literature were born.

    The Nobel Prize in Literature is awarded annually to a writer whose body of work represents a standard of excellence and that moves literature as a whole into an “ideal” direction. Though every year the committee's interpretation of the word “ideal” has held different meanings, in most recent times it has seemed to mean work that focuses on humanitarianism. The Nobel Prize in Literature is the most prestigious literary award in the world, with the committee considering writers from any nation producing work in any language. The winner is chosen each year in October. Last year's winner, singer and songwriter Bob Dylan, was the first musician ever awarded literature's most famous prize. The announcement caused an uproar in the literary community and prompted discussion on the true meaning of the world “literature” and on the place of songs within the overall cannon. With the one year anniversary of that controversial choice and this year's winner soon to be announced, it's a perfect time to look back on other notable Nobel Prize in Literature firsts.

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