Why J.R.R. Tolkien was denied the Nobel Prize in 1961 (07.01.12 by Pieter Collier) - Comments

J.R.R. Tolkien, whose The Lord of the Rings has sold over 200 thousand copies and has won over millions of devoted fans all over the world, was passed over for the 1961 Nobel literature prize after his books were described as second rate.

Newly released documents, declassified after 50 years, show that Tolkien was rejected because The Lord Of The Rings had 'not in any way measured up to storytelling of the highest quality'.

J.R.R. Tolkien was nominated by fellow author and friend C.S. Lewis,  along with luminaries like Rbt Frost, E. M. Forster, Grahame Green, and Lawrence Durrell.

It was Ivo Andric, Yugoslav writer, who won for the "epic force with which he has traced themes and depicted human destinies."

Andreas Ekstrom, a journalist who studied the documents last week, reported his findings in Swedish newspaper Sydsvenska Dagbladet.

They feature an original list of about 50 writers put forward for the award by academics, exerts and previous winners complete with commentary from the prize jury.

Notes relating to the final decision are never released.

The papers also show that British writer Graham Greene, who never won the Nobel, was the jury’s runner-up, followed by Karen Blixen, the Danish writer of Out of Africa.
J.R.R. Tolkien


It is not a disgrace to not receive the Nobel Prize, and it seems we can just add another author to the list that the Nobel commitee was wrong about. Reading their reaction about The Lord of the Rings clearly shows that time can proof you right. The most interesting part about the declassified documents is probably that Tolkien was nominated so early after publishing The Lord of the Rings and also that is was C.S. Lewis who passed on his name. We knew C.S. Lewis one stated in a letter that Tolkien's work was Nobel Prize worthy but I had never expected him to go so far as to submit him. Nice going!

One last thing that I like to mention is that the word used in the original Swedish article is diktning, which the online dictionaries tells me means "poetry." If someone who speaks Swedish could tell me the precise nuances of diktning, I would be quite grateful. But it seems the jury wrote "the result has not in any way measured up to poetry of the highest quality", which is a strange thing to say and could well be the answer to why Tolkien was denied the Nobel Prize. They had just not read the work.

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