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The Nobel Prize for literature is an annual international award granted through the Swedish Academy in Stockholm and financed by the Swedish National Bank. The prize is awarded by a committee of scholars who decide on the most eminent literary work of the year. The Nobel prize is named for Alfred Bernhard Nobel (1833-1896), a wealthy Swedish chemist and engineer who created dynamite, and who established the awards for literature and other areas such as chemistry and peace.

Since Rene F.A. Prudhomme was the first prize winner in 1901, I thought that I should study him. He was the son of a shopkeeper in France. His goal was to become an engineer, but unfortunately he caught an eye disease which stopped him from getting his degree. Instead, he began to study literature and to write poems. He wrote many books such as Croquis Italiens (1866-68), Solitudes (1869), Impressions de la guerre (1870), Les Destines (1872), La Revolte des Fleurs (1872) and many more which were eventually published in an edition of assorted poems in 1900-01.

Another award winner was an American named Eugene O’Neill (1888-1953). His father was an actor and an alcoholic who inspired some of O’Neill’s writings. He wrote many plays such as Beyond the Horizon (1920), Anna Christie (1922), Strange Interlude (1928), and Long Day’s Journey Into Night. I found a website with O’Neill’s play Beyond the Horizon, and I read some of it to see what his style of writing was like. It was WONDERFUL! The main plot line was about two men who loved the same woman and the sacrifices each of them made to have her. I had to force myself to stop reading the play to finish my paper!

One name that also caught my attention on the list of Nobel prize winners was Pablo Neruda (1904-1973). He was born in Chile, and he wrote many romantic poems in the 20th century. He won the Nobel prize for literature in 1971. When you read one of his poems, it’s only a glimpse of how hard you must work to be a great poet. His poems have been described as “a marvelous combination of description, heart, and intelligence”. My favorite poem by Neruda is “The Night We Shall Go In”.

There have been almost a hundred different Nobel prize winners in the past century, including Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Gunter Grass, Dario Fo, and my favorite, Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965). He is my favorite because I think he was one of the smartest, wittiest and certainly one of the most famous of the literature award winners. Not only did his writings win him a Nobel prize for literature, but also he became England’s best prime minister in 1951 and he outwitted Hitler in World War II. He said once in the book The Grand Alliance, “I have only one purpose, the destruction of Hitler, and my life is much simplified thereby. If Hitler invaded Hell, I would make at least a favourable reference to the Devil in the House of Commons.”

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