Pierre-Gilles de Gennes

Banquet speech

Pierre-Gilles de Gennes’ speech at the Nobel Banquet, December 10, 1991

Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses, Ladies and Gentlemen,

This is the first, and probably the last, time in my life where I have dinner with queens and princesses. I am worried. I suspect that with the chimes of midnight I will be turned into a pumpkin.

I have come often to this beautiful city of Stockholm. As a matter of fact, once in 1974 I attended a banquet in this very same room. This was during a conference on liquid crystals. And I was asked to give a 3 minutes talk. But in those days I still had some common sense, I said: No, this is too hard. My friend Tony Arrott took over and did very well.

But now I finally understand why I have been given this fabulous prize, not because of some scientific achievement but because the Swedes are stubborn. They wanted me to give a 3 minute talk in this hall.

Now this is done, but what remains to be said is my admiration for this country.

I was in Lund and in Stockholm 2 months ago. I was in Göteborg last Friday. I can testify that our young science of soft matter has found some of its best men or women here in Sweden.

But my words go far beyond science: I am especially proud of being distinguished in this country, the home land of Carl von Linné and Alfred Nobel – but also the land of Ingmar Bergman and Ingrid Thulin – the land which, through them, became the dream land of the world.

Merci a la Suède, et tous mes voeux pour son avenir.

From Les Prix Nobel. The Nobel Prizes 1991, Editor Tore Frängsmyr, [Nobel Foundation], Stockholm, 1992

Copyright © The Nobel Foundation 1991

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