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January 07, 2017


Richard Kostelanetz

from a Swedish colleague, Kaj Schueler, original line and then Google translation:

/Users/richard/Library/Containers/com.apple.mail/Data/Library/Mail Downloads/4652D4FF-7174-4F6A-B484-1031FE244DE1/KS Nobelpris 66.docx

The Swedish Academy voted against the Nobel Committee's proposal at the 1966 election of literature laureate. Nobel Committee advocated the Japanese author Yasunari Kawabata, but the prize was awarded to the two authors, Samuel Josef Agnon and Nelly Sachs.
It is - at least of the historical material to be believed - very unusual for the Academy in the voting goes on a different line than its Nobel Committee.
The statement which was presented to the members of the decision on the 1966 laureate was written by the chairman Anders Osterling. It ranks S J Agnon and Nelly Sachs in second place, Graham Greene at third and W H Auden in fourth. Apparently seems the whole committee have been agreed on the proposal when no reservations are available in the documents published yesterday by the Academy. It is strange, when at least two of the members, Karl Ragnar Gierow and Erik Lindegren previously expressed strong support for Nelly Sachs Prize winners.
As the Academy's discussions, minutes and votes are secret for outsiders it is impossible to say what caused the votes for Agnon and Sachs the balance. It can only be speculation.
Of the 1965 discussions of the Nobel Committee shows that Anders Osterling long been skeptical of Nelly Sachs' affordability. He certainly believe that her poetry should be highly valued, but doubt that it is of a higher class than other German poets. "Even before the Nelly Sachs, I feel finally the same question, whether her poetry, humanly touching in itself, can alone defend a Nobel Prize," he wrote in 1965. It is clear that Österlings words, as a senior member and one of the most influential in the Academy during more than three decades, weighed heavily. At the same time, it was Karl Ragnar Gierow, newly appointed permanent secretary, who in 1963 first proposed the Sachsenring for the Nobel Prize. In addition, the members Erik Lindegren and Gunnar Ekelöf long since developed a close and meaningful cooperation with Sachs when it came to the translation of each other's poems into German and Swedish.
Interesting in this context is that the fourth member of the committee, Henry Olsson, to 1966 had proposed a shared prize between the two poets Nelly Sachs and Paul Celan. But it was rejected by the Committee with the words: "Sharing The proposal seeks to distinguish two individually significant efforts in the German lyric poetry. Regarding Celan, the Committee has not, however, able to convince himself that his work would justify the investment. "
Even when Celan was first proposed in 1964, he was considered as not meeting "the claims of a high international award." With historical perspective, it can be stated that the Academy has made a fatal miscalculation. Among literary connoisseurs and experts Celan considered today to be one of the top 1900s poets and one of the poets who influenced the poetic development in the West most. Often it has been said that the price in 1966 should rather have been divided between the right Sachs and Celan than between Sachs and Agnon.
The two poets were friends and soul mates, they had met a few times and had at times an intense correspondence. But when Sachs invited Celan and his family to the Nobel festivities he turned them down "because of his service, which probably was not quite true," as Mikael van Reis writes in his great essay on Celan's poetry "The last poet".
Nelly Sachs was undeniably a poet in Germany and Sweden until the mid-1960s had attracted increasing attention. She came on the run from the Nazis to Sweden at the beginning of 1940. Here, she lived in the doldrums with his aging mother. Soon, however, she contacts the Swedish modernist poetry: Ekelöf Thoursie, Lindengren, Edfelt others. She translated their poems into German and it is probably not wrong to say that this strongly contributed to release her own poetic ability that led to her "second" debut in 1947 with the poetry collection "In den Wohnungen des Todes". As a youngster, she had written romantic and naive poems and stories, but now, while knowing what is going on in Nazi Germany became apparent, she found his address. Her poetic force with depressions in religious mysticism and the Jewish people's suffering and the Holocaust at a short distance was tumultuous for contemporary readers and culture writers.
In autumn 1966, ie before the Nobel Prize announcement, Olof Lagercrantz wrote in Dagens Nyheter, five major articles about Sachs poetry. Earlier, Erwin Leiser, Bengt Holmqvist, Johannes Edfelt, Bjorn Julén and many others wrote extensively about her poetry. She was thus far unknown, and today she is mentioned as the little bird-like creature with the powerful words and expressions.
The Nelly Sachs was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature probably came as no great surprise to the literary Sweden. However, it was more surprising that it was shared with the Israeli and hebreiskspråkige prose writer Samuel Josef Agnon (see below the line).
Osterling justifies sharing proposal with the words that "compiles two authors from different language regions, but united by a spiritual affinity carrying out Israel's message in contemporary literature. The summary is intended to do justice to both their individual efforts. "From previous statements shows that Österling value Agnons authorship higher than Sachs. He stresses Agnons wisdom and humor as part of the Hebrew language tradition as he emphasizes how Sachs interpreted the Jewish people of the tribal tragedy with "profound insight and inspiration." But towards the end of his text prepares his academy of any political uproar if the price goes to these authors. He writes: "If a Nobel Prize to these two would be perceived as a zionistisk gesture and provoke political commentary, probably Academy of calm to defend a humane honor, also may be deemed to fully meet the testator object."
To share the Nobel Prize in literature between the two writers is a delicate problem discussed in the Academy on many occasions. The times the price has been there has always led to discussions. Questions have been raised about why these two and the Academy has also held that a shared prize reduces the importance of both authors Community. In retrospect, it has also said that the premise of sharing between Agnon and Sachs were incorrect. The literary affinity between the award winners must be clearer with regard to genre, language and literary community. For that price should be assigned two conditions must be met, according to a statement by the Nobel Committee in 1976. "a) of two, thus winning must either alone be worth the price, b) between their works must be a peer community that clearly justifies the cost shared between just them . "
This was written two years after Johnson and Martinson shared the price and then the price has never been shared between two authors.

Yasunari Kawabata was awarded the prize in 1968 and Samuel Beckett, another of the authors on the short list in 1966 praised 1969. Although this was Österling long opponents and it illustrates an undeniable part of the Academy's problems with the Nobel Prize; namely, that in the current situation to see which authors who have historical buoyancy and which is more of mayflies (if also talented). Therefore, it may be of value to once again quote Österling: "Only in the case of the proposal Samuel Beckett, I have continued concerns about the bottomless nihilistic or pessimistic tendency in his work as contrary to the spirit of the Nobel regulations, insofar Academy now considers itself obliged to apply this. "
However, type Österling with great enthusiasm about the first-designate Günter Grass, the Committee calls on the Academy to follow closely. It would make for more than 30 years.
For Nelly Sachs was of course the Nobel Prize overwhelming recognition and it has certainly contributed to her poetry still touches new readers and is the subject for everything from exhibitions, dramas to theses. The price interview Marianne Höök made for the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet in 1966, she replies to a question about the exile:
- No, she says, I feel that neither Swedish or German or Israeli. I feel like a human being. Nationality can not I stick with. Yes, of course, formally, I am a Swedish citizen. And my German is my anchor.

Richard Kostelanetz

should say: original linK....

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