The Swedish Academy in Stockholm, Sweden.
4 January, 2017
All information concerning the nominations and selections of the Nobel Laureates is kept secret for 50 years.
For the 1966 Literature Prize, the Nobel Committee received 99 valid nominations for 72 candidates. Among the candidates were Jean Anouilh, Miguel Angel Asturias, Jorge Luis Borges, Graham Greene and Lawrence Durrell.
Of the 72 candidates, only 10 were new proposals. Among the new ones were the German author Günter Grass, the British dramatist Arnold Wesker and the Norwegian writer Johan Borgen.
Anders Österling, Chairman of the Nobel Committee for Literature, wrote in his report that every proposal this year had weighty reasons, but concerning Samuel Beckett, he thought that the bottomless nihilistic or pessimistic tendency in Samuel Beckett's work was contrary to the spirit of Alfred Nobel's will, which dictated that the Prize be awarded to a person who has produced "the most outstanding work in an ideal direction."
The Committee put Japanese author Yasunari Kawabata at the top of the list. Anders Österling described him as representing a national lifestyle and a moral-aesthetic consciousness of culture that coloured his description of humans and artistically asserted himself against Western influence. His latest novel "The Old Capital" could be called a masterpiece of tender and mysterious poetry.
The proposal that Agnon and Sachs should share the prize was, according to the Committee, motivated by the authors' spiritual friendship that carried forward the message of Israel in contemporary literature, and was meant to make justice to both writers' authorships.
Graham Greene had been nominated many years since the first time in 1950, and had been discussed often by the Nobel Committee. Österling specially praised Graham Greene's new novel "The Comedians", and suggested that it was an appropriate time to reconsider Greene.
The candidature of W.H. Auden the Committee still considered well-founded, but thought that the time in which Auden's poetry was considered pioneering had passed.
Finally, the Nobel Committee suggested the following candidates for the 1966 Nobel Prize in Literature to the Swedish Academy:
1. Yasunari Kawabata
2. Shmuel Joseph Agnon and Nelly Sachs
3. Graham Greene
4. W.H. Auden
The Swedish Academy did not follow the proposal from the Nobel Committee, and did not award Yasunari Kawabata the 1966 Literature Prize. Instead, they chose the second proposal, and the 1966 Nobel Prize in Literature was divided equally between Shmuel Yosef Agnon "for his profoundly characteristic narrative art with motifs from the life of the Jewish people" and Nelly Sachs "for her outstanding lyrical and dramatic writing, which interprets Israel's destiny with touching strength". There were no reservations from the committee members.
Nelly Sachs had been nominated every year since 1963 and Shmuel Yosef Agnon the years 1947-1949, 1951, 1965-1966.
Members of the Nobel Committee for Literature 1966:
Anders Österling, Chairman
Karl Ragnar Gierow, Permanent Secretary
Uno Willers, Secretary of the committee
Nominated for the first time in 1966:
Carlo Emilio Gadda
Pierre Henri Simon
Nominated by members of the Swedish Academy:
Anna Achmatova - nominated by Karl Ragnar Gierow
Samuel Joseph Agnon - nominated by Harry Martinson
Johan Borgen - nominated by Harry Martinson
Lawrence Durrell - nominated by Henry Olsson
Yasunari Kawabata - nominated by Karl Ragnar Gierow
Konstantin Paustovskij - nominated by Karl Ragnar Gierow
Nelly Sachs and Paul Celan - nominated by Henry Olsson
Arnold Øverland - nominated by Eyvind Johnson
Highest number of nominations for the 1966 Literature Prize:
Samuel Beckett - 4 nominations
André Malraux - 4 nominations
Pablo Neruda - 4 nominations
Anna Achmatova - 3 nominations
W.H. Auden - 3 nominations
José Maria Peman - 3 nominations
Nelly Sachs - 3 nominations (of which one together with Paul Celan)
Tarjei Vesaas - 3 nominations
Simon Vestdijk - 3 nominations