A Humbling Honor: 14 Quotes From Women Authors Who Have Been Awarded The Nobel Prize In Literature

According to the will of Alfred Nobel, a famous Swedish inventor primarily known for thinking up the explosive dynamite, the Nobel Prize in Literature is a prestigious prize that is annually given to an author who “in the field of literature, [has] the most outstanding work in an ideal direction.” Sounds like a huge deal? Well, that’s because it is! The Nobel Prize is among the highest, (if not the highest, depends on your personal view) literary honor a writer can receive. The Prize for 2016 went to American musician, Bob Dylan which was met with some confusion, and controversy when the artist decided not to publicly comment on his receiving the distinguished award.

In light of what has been received as mixed news, I think it’s best to take a more positive look at the Prize and all that it entails and represents for authors, both known and aspiring alike. Below are 14 quotes from the only women to date who have had the honor of bestowing one of the literary world’s most humbling awards.


1. Svetlana Alexievich, 2015 Nobel Literature Prize Winner

“Death is the fairest thing in the world. No one’s ever gotten out of it. The earth takes everyone – the kind, the cruel, the sinners. Aside from that, there’s no fairness on earth.”

Notable Works: Secondhand Time: The Last of the SovietsVoices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster, and Zinky Boys: Soviet Voices from the Afghanistan War.

2.  Alice Munro, 2013 Nobel Literature Prize Winner

“I have never kept diaries. I just remember a lot and am more self-centered than most people.”

Notable Works: Family Furnishings: Selected Stories, 1995-2014, Runaway, Dear Life: Stories, and Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage: Stories.

3. Herta Müller, 2009 Nobel Literature Prize Winner

“Once upon a time they had some bad luck, and they blame everything on that.”

Notable Works: The Hunger Angel, Land of Green Plums, The Appointment, Nadirs, and The Passport.

4. Doris Lessing, 2007 Nobel Literature Prize Winner

“I don’t know much about creative writing programs. But they’re not telling the truth if they don’t teach, one, that writing is hard work, and, two, that you have to give up a great deal of life, your personal life, to be a writer.”

Notable Works: The Golden Notebook, The Grass is Singing, The Fifth Child, The Good Terrorist, and Shikasta.

5. Elfriede Jelinek, 2004 Nobel Literature Prize Winner

“I do not fight against men, but against the system that is sexist.”

Notable Works: The Piano Teacher, Women as Lovers, Wonderful, Wonderful Times, and Lust.

Die šsterreichische Schriftstellerin Elfriede Jelinek am 17.10.1998 vor der Auszeichnung mit dem Georg-BŸchner-Preis in Darmstadt. Elfriede Jelinek erhŠlt in diesem Jahr den Literatur-Nobelpreis. Jelinek habe den Preis "fŸr den musikalischen Fluss von Stimmen und Gegenstimmen in Romanen und Dramen" erhalten, hie§ es zur BegrŸndung. Gelobt wurde ihre "sprachliche Leidenschaft". Elfriede Jelinek hat die Verleihung des Literatur-Nobelpreises als ȟberraschende und gro§e EhreÇ bezeichnet. Im schwedischen Rundfunk sagte sie, sie werde zur Verleihung am 10. Dezember wegen Krankheit nicht nach Stockholm kommen. Die Autorin meinte weiter, sie betrachte den Nobelpreis nicht Èals Blume im Knopfloch fŸr …sterreichÇ. Foto: Stephanie Pilick

Source: Babelio

6. Wislawa Szymborska, 1996 Nobel Literature Prize Winner

“Any knowledge that doesn’t lead to new questions quickly dies out: it fails to maintain the temperature required for sustaining life.”

Notable Works: Poems, New and Collected, 1957-1997View with a Grain of SandNonrequired ReadingNothing Twice: Selected Poems, and Miracle Fair.


Source: Culture

7. Toni Morrison, 1993 Nobel Literature Prize Winner

“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”

Notable Works: Beloved, The Bluest Eye, Song of Solomon, Sula, A Mercy, God Help the Child, and Tar Baby.

8. Nadine Gordimer, 1991 Nobel Literature Prize Winner

“Responsibility is what awaits outside the Eden of Creativity.”

Notable Works: July’s People, Burger’s Daughter, The Pickup, The Lying Days, The House Gun, and No Time Like the Present.

9. Nelly Sachs, 1966 Nobel Literature Prize Winner

“We breathed the air of freedom without knowing the language or any person.”

Notable Works: Collected Poems I: (1944-1949)O the Chimneys: Selected Poems, Including the Verse Play, Eli, and Paul Celan, Nelly Sachs: Correspondence.


Source: QuotationOf

10. Gabriela Mistral, 1945 Nobel Literature Prize Winner

“Love that stammers, that stutters, is apt to be the love that loves best.”

Notable Works: Selected Prose and Prose-PoemsLecturas para MujeresThis America of Ours, and Motivos: The Life of St. Francis.

11. Pearl Buck, 1938 Nobel Literature Prize Winner

“You cannot make yourself feel something you do not feel, but you can make yourself do right in spite of your feelings.”

Notable Works: The Good Earth trilogy, Dragon Seed, Imperial Woman, and The Big Wave.

6th December 1962: American author Pearl S. Buck testifies before the Senate subcommittee on new uses for Ellis Island, New York City, in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Neal Boenzi/New York Times Co./Getty Images)

Source: Today

12. Sigrid Undset, 1928 Nobel Literature Prize Winner

“No one and nothing can harm us, child, except what we fear and love.”

Notable Works: Kristin LavransdatterGunnar’s DaughterIda ElisabethThe Son Avenger, and Jenny.

13. Grazia Deledda, 1926 Nobel Literature Prize Winner

“According to an ancient Sardinian legend, the bodies of those who are born on Christmas Eve will never dissolve into dust but are preserved until the end of time.”

Notable Works: Reeds in the WindElias PortoluCosimaMarianna Sirca, and After the Divorce.


Source: Quotesgram

14. Selma Lagerlöf, 1909 Nobel Literature Prize Winner

“If dead things love, if earth and water distinguish friends from enemies, I should like to possess their love. I should like the green earth not to feel my step as a heavy burden. I should like her to forgive that she for my sake is wounded by plough and harrow, and willingly to open for my dead body.”

Notable Works: The Wonderful Adventures of NilsGösta Berlings SagaThe Löwensköld RingCharlotte Löwensköld, and The Emperor of Portugallia.

Selma Lagerlšf 1923 Foto: Atelje Jaeger, Stockholm

Source: Wikiwand

Have you read any of these esteemed novels?

YouTube Channel: Wall Street Journal


Featured image via The Huffington Post

h/t Bustle

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