Nobel Prize Laureate: Selma Lagerlöf

The Swedish writer Selma Lagerlöf was the first female writer to win the Nobel Prize in Literature (1909).

The SwedishAcademy awarded her the prize in appreciation of the lofty idealism, her vivid imagination and spiritual perception that characterize her writings.

Lagerlöf is most widely known for her children’s book The Wonderful Adventures of Nils.

The book, intended as a geography primer for elementary schools, became a classic in children’s literature and was translated in several languages.  You can click here for a comprehensive description of The Wonderful Adventures of Nils, written by  Elysa Faith Ng,  an eleven year old child.

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Nobel Prize Laureate: Nelly Sachs

In the unimaginable aftershock of the Second World War the German philosopher Theodor W. Adorno made the famous statement, ‘To write poetry after Auschwitz is impossible.’  It was Nelly Sachs, more than anyone else, who showed that it was not only possible, it was necessary.

Child

Child

With the burial of your head

seed capsule of dreams

grown heavy

with endless resignation

ready now to sow in another country.

With eyes

turned round to mother earth –

– Child

 

The Berlin-born Jewish poet (1891-1970) was arrested and interrogated by the Gestapo in 1938,  and in 1940, after being summoned to report to a “work camp,” she narrowly escaped to the neutral country of Sweden with her mother. Throughout the war they lived in poverty, occupying a one-room apartment in Stockholm. Sachs penned poetry that bears witness to the Holocaust and the tragedy of the Jewish people with words that were also universal, symbolic of the suffering and redemption of all humanity.

Nelly Sachs 1966.jpg

On the day of her seventy-fifth birthday, Nelly Sachs was awarded the 1966 Nobel Prize in Literature. She gave the money away, half of it to the needy, half to the friend who had arranged to get her out of Germany in 1940.

 At her Nobel reception, Ingvar Andersson of the Swedish Academy made the following comments to her:

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