The Swedish Academy today awarded this year’s Nobel Prize in Literature to the 80-year-old Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer, with the citation that “through his condensed, translucent images, he gives us fresh access to reality”.
Tranströmer is the seventh Swede to be awarded the Literature Prize, following Selma Lagerlöf in 1909, Verner von Heidenstam in 1916, Erik Axel Karlfeldt in 1931, Pär Lagerkvist in 1951, and Eyvind Johnson and Harry Martinson jointly in 1974 (eighth if Nelly Sachs (1966) is counted as Swedish).
Thus Sweden may be said to be well represented among the laureates, but it is noteworthy that it is now 37 years since the last time a Swede received the Prize. The award of the 1974 prize to Johnson and Martinson caused controversy as both of them were members of the Swedish Academy and truth to be said they are not really outstanding figures in the history of literature.
But of the Swedish laureates through history Tranströmer is in fact only the second not to be a member of the Swedish Academy at the time of receiving the Prize, the only previous laureate being Selma Lagerlöf, who later became the first female member of the Academy.
This year’s recipient of the most prestigious of all the Nobel Prizes, the Peace Prize, will be announced in Oslo at 1 p.m. tomorrow. A record number of candidates have been nominated and speculation has centred on the Arab spring, but from the various hints dropped by the Norwegian Nobel Committee’s leader, Thorbjørn Jagland, I will not be surprised if the Peace Prize is awarded to the EU.