• Inspiration

    • Some of the most inspiring speeches that benefit humanity have blossomed during the reception of this award.

    Can we understand literature (and life) through the Nobel Prize? / 

    Since 1901, each year the Swedish Academy has given the Nobel Prize to people that headed work in the best interest of humanity or a notable contribution to society during the course of the previous years. The awards were established to honour Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, whose will stated that all his fortune was to be distributed equally as awards to the fields of physics, chemistry, medicine, peace and literature. In the latter, and despite the fact that many great writers have been overlooked (such as Tolstoy, Virginia Woolf, Joyce, Joseph Conrad, W.H. Auden and Borges), over the years great men from the sphere of literature have been recognised, and the award has been able to throw light on their work, making it known to a vast extension of the world.

    The acceptance speeches have become a crucial part of the ceremony, which are to a great extent an opportunity for the laureates to express their stance on literature, life, or both things that in this case are one and the same. The following are some of the most memorable:

    In 1950, the philosopher Bertrand Russell received the Nobel Prize in recognition of his varied and significant writings in which he champions humanitarian ideals and freedom of thought". With his determinant and affable voice, he said this. It was Hemingway’s turn in 1954, he received the award because of “his mastery of the art of narrative, most recently demonstrated in The Old Man and the Sea, and for the influence that he has exerted on contemporary style.” He was unable to attend the event because of health issues, but this was what he recorded about writing, emphasising the imminent loneliness any good writer goes through. The 2010 Nobel Prize was awarded to the Spanish-Peruvian Mario Vargas Llosa, who, as any good storyteller, told his story as a writer since he learnt how to write at the age of five, until the moment he was informed that he had won a Nobel Prize for his “for his cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual’s resistance, revolt, and defeat.”

    However, many years before, when William Faulkner received his award in 1949, the world witnessed a speech that to this day echoes as a great proverb, not only for literature, but for life itself. The author’s words seem to be directed towards the manner in which we have led our existence, without much to lose, without much to gain.

    Our tragedy today is a general and universal physical fear so long sustained by now that we can even bear it. There are no longer problems of the spirit. […] He writes not of love but of lust, of defeats in which nobody loses anything of value, of victories without hope and, worst of all, without pity or compassion. His griefs grieve on no universal bones, leaving no scars. [The writer] must teach himself that the basest of all things is to be afraid; and, teaching himself that, forget it forever, leaving no room in his workshop for anything but the old verities and truths of the heart, the old universal truths lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed - love and honour and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice.

    Following this link, you’ll find his full speech. 

    Tagged: great writers, Nobel Prize, Agents of Change, inspiration, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner