It’s always an odd feeling when you learn that one of the greatest authors of our time maybe wasn’t as great as we thought he was. That’s what happened with John Steinbeck recently.
According to the L.A. Times, the 1962 Nobel Prize winning author of novels like The Grapes of Wrath, basically won the prize by default. Once a person wins the Nobel Prize, the deliberations of the Swedish committee have to be locked up for 50 years in Stockholm. They were recently released, and revealed a lot more about the selection process than people expected — and not in a good way, for Steinbeck anyway. Hector Tobar explains.
Graves was rejected, Schueler reveals, because as an English-language poet he couldn’t match up to the great Ezra Pound — and Pound’s record of anti-Semitism and support of fascism would forever disqualify him from winning […] Danish novelist Karen Blixen was also a finalist, but she died a few months before the selection committee’s final meeting. Anouilh was likely passed up because a French poet had won the award in 1960 and because the committee was seriously considering Jean-Paul Sartre, who would win the award two years later.
In fact, the papers even say there wasn’t any “obvious candidate.” Ultimately the committee nominated him, determining that his most recent books included some of the greatness of his earlier works.